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Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Cirkva’

Rick Fox, Arianna Huffington and a Real Housewife of New York City

1003_mockup.gif— DIANE CLEHANE

It was SRO at Michael’s today with movers and shakers jammed into every corner. I was so glad I got there early and was able to chat with Rick Fox and his girlfriend Eliza Dushku (who we loved on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) when they arrived at the stroke of noon. Having watched the former LA Laker morph into a serious ballroom dancer during his stint on Dancing With the Stars, I just had to ask him if he’d kept up with his smooth moves. “No I haven’t,” he told me with a laugh. “I guess I need to call [professional partner Cheryl Burke] if I ever need to do that again.”

Rick said he was in town for Internet Week to promote Off Season, a podcast production he is working on with Michael Eisner as producer. “It’s great and that’s where the future seems to be. I’m having a lot of fun with it.” As for Eliza, who is truly stunning in person, she’s in town to film an episode of  White Collar. When asked if she is playing a good girl or femme fatale on the USA Network series, she demurred. “A little of both, I think.” With that, the dazzling couple sailed off to take their place at their table in the center of the room.

I was lunching today with Myrna Blyth, editor-in-chief of thirdage.com, the longest-running site devoted to female baby boomers. Ever since Web entrepreneur Josh Speyer bought the site in 2010 and brought Myrna, who was once the guiding force of Ladies Home Journal and More, on board, over two million visitors have been flocking to the site for everything from boomer celebrity news to the latest health breakthroughs. While magazines seem to shun the 50-plus crowd, which Myrna thinks is a “big mistake,” thirdage is welcoming ‘women of a certain age’ who have have real buying power and who want talk  — and talk — about what matters to them online. “I think it’s wonderful to give such a powerful group the voice they deserve,” says Myrna. “Thirdage is for the woman who wasn’t born yesterday and wants to make the most of today.”

Here’s the rundown on todays’ crowd:

1.  Fidelis Global’s Gerry Byrne and Hollywoodlife.com‘s Bonnie Fuller, presiding over their second monthly “Influencers” lunch. The table was so jam packed that we could barely make out all the attendees, but we were able to spot Cosmo editrix Kate White; Neil Vogel, co-founder of the Webby Awards; Cablevision’s Tad Smith; Real Housewife LuAnn de Lesseps (that’s Countess de Lesseps to you!); Veronika Ward of MediaCom Interaction; Estee Lauder’s Marisa Thalberg; MMC’s chief revenue officer Aly Racer; and WNBC-TV’s Jane Hanson.

2. Michael Holtzman

3. Alan Grubman and NBC’s Richard Engel

4. Michael Fuchs and producer Jean Doumanian

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David Hockney, Lawrence O’Donnell And The Scandal-Scarred Manhattanite

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— DIANE CLEHANE

When I arrived at Michael’s today and found myself engulfed in a sea of suits, I chalked up the relatively quiet dining room to the usual January doldrums. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the reason things seemed a bit quieter than usual was that there were more than a few folks present who preferred to fly a bit under the radar considering what they might be talking about.  (Just a thought: This isn’t the place if you’re looking to have a low-profile lunch). An acquisitive media mogul dining with one of the city’s most respected media columnists?  A scandal plagued Manhattanite dishing with the Times’ financial columnist? The last thing on the minds of these guys was table hopping. I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned to see what they cooked up over lunch.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Artist David Hockney holding court with a table full of ‘suits’

2. Allyn Magrino and pals

3. Abernathy & MacGregor’s Jim Abernathy and some pretty preppy looking folks.

4. Uber literary agent Esther Newberg and a bookish bloke we didn’t recognize

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Doris Kearns Goodwin, Bo Dietl and The Post-Election Posse

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The votes are in and this week’s big winner is Michael McCarty whose dining room has been packed every day with A-list celebs  and politicos of every stripe in town this week to dissect every nuance of election night. The star of Monday’s lunch was none other than Jessica Lange, and on Tuesday James Carville, Cokie Roberts and Tina Brown made the scene. Kirk Douglas was also spotted accepting well wishes for son Michael Douglas, who is keeping a low profile having just finished his treatment for throat cancer.

Today, politics were the topic and I overheard plenty as I made my rounds in the dining room. “Who the hell knows what this all means?” said one shell shocked Obama supporter of the midterm election results. His friend wearily replied, “It’s over. The president is in for it now.” An interested party across the room offered this assessment: “The Republican Party may think this is their time, but they’ll shoot themselves in the foot. You’ll see. ” Another friend told me, “Until we stop thinking of ourselves as a red nation or blue nation and figure out this is a red, white and blue country, we’re screwed.”

At my table, we avoided politics and stuck to dissecting the latest moves in media. My good friend Andy Amill, who this summer got a much deserved promotion and is now Vice President of Weight Watchers Media Group overseeing all print and digital media, is feeling pretty optimistic these days. And he’s got reason to be. It seems celebrity pitch woman Jennifer Hudson, who sensibly shrunk down from a size 16 to a svelte size six on the tried and true program, has been a home run for the brand. “The impact of Jennifer Hudson has been phenomenal,” Andy told me. “We’ve seen an increase in membership at meetings and on-line and an increase in magazine sales.” And, unlike the usual blink-and-you miss-’em celeb endorsement deals, Andy reports that the divine Ms. Hudson will be sticking around to spearhead some top secret programs the company will unveil in 2011.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Early Show: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer. Second seating: My pal, attorney Suzanne Bracker, and Dan Wassong.

2. Peter Brown and Michael Holtzman

3. Fortune‘s Patricia Sellers — whose cover story last month on Oprah‘s next act still has people buzzing – and, we’re told, John Needham.

4. Felicia Taylor with another chic blonde gal we didn’t recognize.

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Cindi Leive, Larry Hackett & David Zinczenko: Editors Unleashed!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It must be all that good news about ad pages for the September issues being way up from last year that brought out the media mavens today at Michael’s. The place was packed with editors and journos all doing their best to boost Gotham’s perilous economy. The expense account returns!

I was lunching today with my good friend Miriam Driot, who recently opened her own marketing consultancy, and fashionista extraordinaire Susan Tabak, who I met in this very dining room a few years ago. Susan spent over a decade providing well-heeled international clients with customized shopping excursions in Paris and later had a big hit with her self-published tome Chic in Paris: Style Secrets & Best Addresses and its accompanying blog, chicinparis.com.

“I’m not Vogue, but I have my own perspective and people have responded to my authenticity.” I’ll say. The Times of London rated her the top fashion commentator on Twitter for her insights from the front row of the haute couture shows. Last November, Susan reinvented her site as susantabak.com and has added plenty of eye-catching features like her behind-the-scenes look at the New York and Paris runway shows and video interviews with fashion gods like Karl Lagerfeld (“a fascinating character”) and John Galliano (“just extraordinary”).

Susan has parlayed her online success into a full-fledged media company and has plans for more books and some online and television projects. She’s also tapped Mark Grischke, formerly of Vogueand ForbesLife, to be her editorial director. “I’ve got so many plans to extend my brand beyond the website, and I’m taking my time so I can hire the best team possible. Fashion is international, and to succeed, you need a global presence.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Christopher Simon of CBS with a table full of pals

2. Peter Brown

3. Law & Order SVU‘s Richard Belzer (with his beloved pooch who seemed a bit skittish while dodging the wait staff) and a fellow we didn’t recognize

4. Men’s Health honcho David Zinczenko (in jeans!) and Eric Sacks

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Does Sopranos Creator David Chase Ever Smile?

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We missed Michael Douglas by a day. Oh well, there was enough going on with the usual suspects in the Michael’s dining room that we barely had time to eat. After making the rounds to check in with the regulars, I saw that Sopranos creator David Chase had slipped in practically unnoticed. What really caught my eye was the downright miserable expression on Chase’s face. Does this guy ever smile? Apparently not. One insider told me, “Chase is a guy that has a pretty dark view of life. How else could he have come up with Tony Soprano?” We’ve heard of method acting, but method living? Whatever works, I guess.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The ‘Gang’ is all here: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer.

2. Kris Fuchs and Joan Tisch

3. Gerry Byrne (who treated me to the latest pics of his new granddaughter on his iPhone) with The Ito Partnership’s president and CEO David Melancon and partner Joseph Sutherland.

4. Kathy Lacey — making the scene two days in a row!

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Lunch: Tina Brown & Barbara Walters Break Bread; Jonathan Wald Works The Room

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It’s a little disconcerting these days when no matter where you go in the city, the streets seem quieter than usual, and there are 10 cabs lined up outside Grand Central any time we need one. But we’ve observed an interesting phenomenon: The worse the economic news, the busier the scene at Michael’s during our weekly Wednesday visits. The dining room was abuzz with plenty of glad handing and table-hopping, and the mood, despite all the gloom and doom out there, was downright jovial. “It’s a bit of escapism,” one regular confided to me. “There’s no doubt things are bad, but people have to be out there now more than ever, so you might as well enjoy yourself for a couple of hours.” I certainly did today as I was joined at the bay by my friend and former boss Susan Malinowski, brand ‘incubator’ and licensing/marketing guru who has some big deals brewing. (I’m sworn to secrecy.) We practically got whiplash keeping track of all the goings-on. So come out from under your desk and get out there and network. You never know who you’re going to meet over a Cobb salad.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Bonnie Timmerman presiding over a full table of guests including Claudia Peltz

2. Peter Brown and Shirley Lord

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Quest‘s Chris Meigher

4. Michael J. Wolfe

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Lunch: Special Post-Inauguration Edition

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The mood was festive at Michael’s today, with plenty of Obama buttons on display and lots of talk about the president’s stirring inaugural address. Jack Kliger told me, “I thought the whole thing was inspiring. His speech was terrific.” Jack had a good laugh about Barack Obama‘s heartfelt thanks to George W. Bush for his “years of service,” only to then turn around and basically rip the departing administration to shreds — in the nicest possible way. A speech for the ages, indeed.

While everyone agreed the president was near perfection in every possible way, the verdict was somewhat mixed on the First Lady’s fashion sense. A few media mavens told me they were less than thrilled with Michelle Obama‘s Isabel Toledo dress and coat (“A little dowdy,” sniped one stylista), but gave her higher marks for her Jason Wu ivory gown. I admit, I didn’t love the “lemongrass” lace daytime look at first, but by day’s end it had grown on me. I will say that Sasha and Malia looked darling in their custom J.Crew Crewcuts coats. When my good pal Fern Mallis, looking sleek and chic in her Tracy Reese Obama shirt, stopped at the bar for a chat, I asked her what she thought about Michelle’s fashion choices for the big day. “I’d give her a 10,” said Fern. “I could not think of a better ambassador for the fashion industry right now. She looked great.”

Today I was lunching with Lisa Silhanek and Justin Brown, CEO of First Global Xpress. Lisa, who knows everyone in the fashion biz, is working with Justin as his relationship manager, helping to broaden the business within the industry. Justin, whose clients include HBO, ICM and Conde Nast, has built an impressive business (that will be profiled in next month’s Business Week and the March issue of Inc.) by catering to companies that care about reducing their carbon footprint with smart shipping that lops off miles using direct flights. And, perhaps just as important, Justin says: “We deal with divas very well.” He’s shipped everything from a helicopter (New York to Eastern Europe) to Marilyn Monroe’s velvet headboard bought at auction by an adoring fan, so chances are he can handle whatever daunting task Seventh Avenue can serve up.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Imber Gang: Dr. Gerry Imber, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman and Jerry Della Femina. I asked Jerry about the awful news about the demise of Full Frontal Fashion. His wife, the tireless Judy Licht, made the show a must-see for fashionistas and civilians alike with its wall-to-wall coverage of Fashion Week. (Truth be told, I’ve skipped a show or two knowing that I could watch the whole shebang from my living room without having to battle the crowds). “It’s true,” reports Jerry. “But Judy has a lot of things going and will be covering Fashion Week for The Huffington Post.” You heard it here first, folks. Smart move, Arianna.

2. Peggy Siegal dining with a mystery gal. Clever Peggy ordered her lunch in advance so as not to waste a minute.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and uber-agent Ed Victor

4. Jack Kliger, Tom Donahue and a gent named Nick, so we’re told.

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Lunch: Musical Chairs With Sir Paul McCartney

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— DIANE CLEHANE

So you think you’ve got problems? Paul McCartney (that’s Sir Paul to you) arrived at Michael’s today shortly before noon to scope out a table for a quiet lunch with Barbara Walters. When he was ushered to Table One, situated in the bay window, he passed on perching at the power spot and asked to check out the room before settling on a primo corner table. Babs arrived shortly thereafter, as did a dark-haired beauty that some thought might be Paul’s gal pal Nancy Shevell (but we think not) and a distinguished mystery gent. But alas, the happy foursome couldn’t enjoy their lunch because the eagle-eyed former Beatle spied a pesky video cameraman taking it all in from the sidewalk, shooting through the window. We’re guessing it was those intrepid folks from TMZ who regularly stake out the joint. Well, Paul wasn’t about to give up on his quest for some privacy, so the gang moved once again to the back of the dining room and finally settled in for some good dish. Whew!

The rest of the room was buzzing, with tables shoehorned in all over the place to deal with the overflow of media A-listers. When I made my rounds, I stopped by my good pal Fern Mallis‘ table to say hello. She was nice enough to introduce me to her charming niece, Brooke Lampley, an assistant vice president at Christie’s, and internationally acclaimed museum designer Stuart Silver. The always-optimistic Fern wanted to talk about how well things are going as she prepares for next month’s Fashion Week. (We can’t wait for the Barbie show!) Contrary to published reports, says Fern, there are plenty of exciting designers and companies that are spending money to show at the tents — some for the first time. “I don’t understand why people want to focus on so much negativity,” says Fern. “Why not write about what new things people are doing to help their businesses?” It’s a good question. Many folks that I’ve talked to in the fashion biz say the reporting in this area is far too much gloom and doom, and it’s becoming something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. So come on, people! How about some industry cheerleading? It certainly couldn’t hurt.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Imber Gang: Dr. Gerry Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman. We’re guessing Jeff Greenfield is a bit busy for lunch this week…

2. John Sykes (who was overheard telling Paul McCartney that he had dinner with Clint Eastwood last night and was singing the praises of his latest film, Gran Torino. ‘It’s great,’ enthused John!) and Frederic Fekkai

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong with Glamour editrix Cindi Leive

4. Fox 5′s Rosanna Scotto with her former colleague, newly-minted real estate mogul Penny Crone

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Lunch: Carl Bernstein: Bush ‘Straight Talk’ Book Would Sell

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Reports of the death of the power lunch are, by the looks of things at Michael’s today, most definitely premature. It will be a sure sign of the apocalypse when the regulars at 55th & Fifth stop showing up to cook up their next big move over burgers and Cobb salads. By the looks of today’s crowd, there was plenty of business being done between bites as media machers, fashion mavens and a few authors of note were deep in conversation. And, reports Michael McCarty, the joint is also jumping after dark. Leonard Lauder took over the Garden Room for a chic soiree last night, and the place is booked with plenty of parties throughout the month. “We’re very fortunate,” says Michael. “We have a very diverse and loyal clientele.” Indeed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Police commissioner Ray Kelly and Tom Kelly. No one was quite sure if these two imposing looking fellows were related, but I’m guessing not since I spotted Tom scribbling furiously in his notebook during lunch…

2. Men’s Health honcho Dave Zinczenko and Glamour editrix Cindi Leive. With all the gloom and doom that abounds and the scarcity of holiday fetes around town, I asked them what they were planning to do for their staffs to brighten spirits. Both said they were planning “very low key” get-togethers somewhere in town. “There’s going to be a pool table and bottles of beer involved,” promises Cindi. Dave also reports that Rodale will be hosting two parties — one here at the New York offices and the other at the company’s Emmaus, Pa. headquarters. No Scrooges here! I just had to ask Cindi what she thought of this morning’s item in The New York Post that she (and Linda Wells) might be in line for the top spot at Vogue should those pesky rumors (denied by Si Newhouse) that Anna Wintour is on the way out. Or, maybe her pal Dave has lured her away for the top spot at Women’s Health. (An announcement about the job is expected any day.) “I’m perfectly happy where I am,” Cindi told me.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Carl Bernstein. I told Carl that I caught All the President’s Men (which he co-wrote with Bob Woodward on the heels of their game-changing coverage of Watergate for The Washington Post all those many years ago) on TMC the other night. “How does it hold up?” he asked me. Pretty well, I told him. “It’s been years since I’ve seen it,” says Carl. I had to ask him what he thought of the reports that the soon to be ex-president wouldn’t exactly incite a bidding war for his memoirs in the months following him leaving office. Carl dismisses the notion that their would be no takers for the book. “Presidents never have difficulty getting their memoirs published,” he told me. Earlier this week, Bush told ABC News’ Charles Gibson that he was “unprepared for war” and said his “biggest regret” was the mistaken claims regarding weapons of mass that lead to the war in Iraq. So does that mean that Bush’s prospective tome might offer some introspection? “Forget introspection,” says Carl. “If he was more forthcoming about his presidency given the amount of withholding of information and level of mendacity, a little straight talk would be good.”

4. Tommy Mottola and an unidentified older gentleman

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Lunch at Michael’s: Joan Rivers, Deepak Chopra & The Today Gang

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The scene at 55th & Fifth was more subdued than usual today with most of the regulars nowhere to be seen. With an unusually high number of “civilians” milling about, it seemed unlikely we’d get our weekly boldfaced name fix this go round. Imagine our delight when Joan Rivers arrived — party hats and Payard cake in hand — and told us she was hosting a surprise party for Today show producer Amy Rosenblum (she gave the birthday girl her first job in television) and was expecting Matt, Ann and the gang at any minute. While Ms. Curry, Mr. Lauer, Marc Victor and Jonathan Tisch exchanged hellos, I chatted with Today‘s executive producer Jim Bell to get his take on why Katie Couric decided to tell all to New York Magazine for this week’s explosive cover story. “It’s fascinating,” said Jim. “I think it was an honest assessment of what’s going on — but very interesting given the sensitive nature of it all.” Jim says he and his former colleague have a lunch date on the calendar which left us wondering exactly what Katie’s next move in this intriguing saga will be. Stay tuned …

Here’s the rundown on the rest of the crowd:

1. Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina and another gentleman we didn’t recognize. The newly installed CBS newsman, who left CNN earlier this year, had his first piece for the network air this weekend. “I’m glad to be busy!” he enthused. Greenfield’s take on the Couric saga: “It’s a hard road back. Everybody here is just trying to do the best newscast we can.” The always affable newsman then offered this telling bon mot before dashing back to his table: “I don’t know — it’s above my pay grade!”

2. Rubenstein & Associates’ Caroline Mirenbeger, so we’re told.

3. Joely Hunt (loved the shoes!) and a very stylish gal pal.

4. Radical Thinking’s Bob Friedman with Deepak Chopra (in red Nikes!) and, we’re told, his son.

5. Peter Price and guest.

6. The Today gang and guests (who also took over tables 12 & 16).

7. Not sure …

8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia — looking summery in seersucker — with Alice Mason.

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