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Posts Tagged ‘Bob Friedman’

Mogul Mania with Jack Welch & David Geffen

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was SRO at Michael’s today with moguls Jack Welch and David Geffen holding court at their respective tables while the celebrity du jour, none other than George Hamilton, caused more than his fair share of double takes. We overheard one fan gush, “I loved you on Dancing With the Stars!” (So did we, but we’re too cool to say so.) Meanwhile, the rest of the crowd was so busy air kissing and table hopping between bites it’s a miracle anyone actually got to eat anything. We’re glad we did, because the new fall menu is fabulous!

I was joined today by Debbie Phillips, life coach and founder of Women On Fire, and Sophfronia Scott, author and founder of The Done For You Writing & Publishing Company. Debbie is busier than ever with her Women on Fire tea parties that have been helping women from all walks of life ignite their true passions since 2004. She’s hosting one at Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon in Gramercy Park on Friday, and there are others scheduled for Columbus, Ohio, Boston, Santa Fe and Naples this fall. Debbie is on track to reaching her important goal of “connecting 50,000 women to each other” through Women on Fire this year. You go, girl!

Sophfronia, who I first met when we worked at People together another life ago, got to know Debbie after she attended one of her tea parties. She is really on a roll. This mom of an adorable six year-old boy has been regularly cranking out books since she published her first novel All I Need to Get By in 2004. She recently published How The Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times (Two Harbors) in which she compiles words of wisdom from high rollers, including Donald Trump and Jack Canfield. Just how does she juggle it all? “I can write for about four hours at a time; then I have to get up and do something else,” Sophfronia tells me. See, it’s just that simple.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The “Imber Gang”: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer

2. Peter Brown and Grace Hightower (That’s Mrs. Robert De Niro to you.)

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong

4. Alan Grubman, David Geffen and Bob Daley

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John Sykes, Jared Kushner & Moguls on the Make

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Sometimes it’s the random celebrity sighting like recent visitors Michael Douglas and Glenn Close that gives Michael’s that jolt of adrenaline during our weekly Wednesday visits. And sometimes it’s the sheer power quotient of the dining room that gets our attention. As one regular told me: “I can always tell who is looking for money and who is writing the checks when I come here. It’s the best business scorecard around.”

Today I was joined by power publicist Catherine Saxton, who knows just about everybody but never spins and tells, and Richard Smullen, co-founder and CEO of Beezag and AdGenesis. We had a fascinating chat about the ‘wild west’ of Internet advertising and how absolutely maddening those unwanted pop-up ads are. When Richard launched Beezag last November with Laurent Alhadeff, they created a different kind of online advertising environment which they’ve cleverly coined as ‘Me-commerce.’ Richard explains beezag’s consumer-centric marketing concept this way: “It’s about relevancy and reward. Consumers watch entertaining branded content and video ads they love and get discounts they deserve because they’re thanked with special offers and incentives from advertisers.”

By matching brands to the consumers who want to hear about them, Richard reports that beezag delivers clients an average of 25 percent click-through rates. The members-only, opt-in multi-platform community has some pretty serious brainpower behind it. Richard tells me his ‘executive council’ of advisors includes Gerry Byrne, Wenda Millard, Michael Kassan and Bob Friedman. For someone who just landed in New York from South Africa in January of last year, Richard seems to have figured out pretty quickly how to make things happen in Manhattan. We’re impressed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Boy wonder Jared Kushner with his dad Charles, presiding over a table full of movers and shakers. The New York Observer owner must have had some big deal brewing, because he stepped outside several times to take a very important call. Or perhaps it was just the missus, Ivanka Trump, asking what to make for dinner.

2. My friend and PR maven extraordinaire Lisa Linden and former Bush administration advisor Charles Millard, celebrating the launch of Charles’ new venture specializing in pension funds and financial services, Cardinal Advisors.

3. Catherine Saxton, Richard Smullen and yours truly

4. LVMH’s David Anton

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Lunch: James Cameron’s Oscar Campaign Comes to Michael’s

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was Hollywood on the Hudson at Michael’s today as Peggy Siegal hosted one of her legendary lunches right smack in the middle of the dining room. Today’s guest of honor was James Cameron. Looks like Peggy pulled out all the stops, rounding up quite an eclectic collection of actors, directors, and entertainment A-listers to celebrate the Avatar auteur’s nine Oscar nominations and, no doubt, drum up a few votes. Ballots are due March 2! In case you haven’t heard, Cameron is up against some stiff competition in the best picture and director categories. His ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, has been nabbing plenty of statuettes this award season for helming The Hurt Locker, and everyone in Hollywood is waiting to see who comes out on top on Oscar night.

I was squeezed into the bar with Redbook‘s editor-in-chief Stacy Morrison and Hearst’s director of public relations Alexandra Carlin. Stacy is about to publish her first book, Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the Hell of Divorce (Simon & Schuster) next month and it’s a real page turner. After spending a year “trying not to write the book,” Stacy decided to chronicle her painful but ultimately life-affirming journey from jilted wife of a year-old baby to happy single mother. The memoir, which seems destined for the big screen, took two years of writing and rewriting on weekends to finish. “I wanted to make people think differently about divorce,” Stacy told me. After tiring of deflecting people’s inappropriate questions about the split, Stacy says she ultimately thought: ‘If you want to see the real story, here it is.’ And she doesn’t hold anything back. From the nights spent sobbing on her kitchen floor to the painful conversations with her soon-to-be ex, it’s all there.

I asked Stacy if she had any misgivings about exposing so much about her personal life in the book, given her high-profile position as a relationship ‘expert.’ (She got her boss Cathie Black‘s blessing to write it.) On the contrary, she told me. “The book is a resilience road map,” says Stacy. Miraculously, she and her ex-husband have managed to remain friends (really!) and have a co-parenting strategy that works for the couple and their young son. Stacy even dedicated the book to the man who left her because, she says, “I couldn’t have written it without him in more ways than one.”

The book is getting plenty of good buzz and even earned high praise from none other than Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote of her own reawakening after divorce in Eat, Pray, Love. Gilbert “loved the tone” of the book, calling it “real, without the slightest hint of self-pity.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Just an intimate lunch for 38 including James Cameron and pals Bob Balaban, Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn (looking absolutely ageless), Avatar villain Stephen Lang, indie It girl Parker Posey, documentarian Ken Burns and director Julie Taymor, Jean Doumanian and Warner Music’s Lyor Cohen. Also in attendance: Les Moonves, John Stossel, Felicia Taylor, and “Mayor” Joe Armstrong. Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar odds-maker Dave Karger was also on hand taking it all in.

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Lunch: Politics As Usual

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Timing is everything. Just ask Hillary Clinton. If we’d come a day earlier we would have dined with Karl Rove. (Well, okay, we’d have been in the same room.) Our spy says the sight of ‘Bush’s brain’-turned-Fox commentator at table five had the joint buzzing (or was it hissing?). In any event, politics were still very much front and center today. My pal producer Beverly Camhe introduced me to Patricia Duff who had just yesterday hosted a lunch at the Friar’s Club with Paul Begala for her political think tank, The Common Good. According to Beverly, who says joining Patricia’s group has been “life-changing,” Paul told the crowd that he’s all but certain Barack Obama will win the Democratic nomination. Since Paul is a Hillary supporter his prediction carries some heft. Patricia, who has also hosted Henry Kissinger and economic advisor Robert Hormats, is sure to have more heavy hitters hold forth on all things presidential in the coming months. Check it out yourself. After all, you can’t spend all your free time watching Gossip Girl no matter what New York says

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, Eduardo Verastegui, Sean Wolfington and his lovely wife Ana, Kathie Lee’s right-hand gal Christine Gardiner and my new pal Today show producer Brian Balthazar. Seems those new BFFs Kathie Lee and Hoda have a regular Wednesday date to take in a matinee and then talk about it on Today the next morning. Today the girls were off to see Crybaby. Tune in tomorrow to catch their review.

2. Nick Simunek

3. Ron Delsener and John Eastman

4. Stan Shuman with a fellow we didn’t recognize …

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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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Lunch at Michael’s: Blood! Explosions! Dueling Weathermen!

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgPerhaps it was the nice weather. Or maybe a hangover from the Time 100 party last night. Today’s media lunch at 55th & Fifth was relatively full, but lacked the star power of lunches past (no heads of state nor Penelope Cruzes to report). There was, however, some excitement near our perch at the bar, as a bottle of Pellegrino spontaneously exploded, bloodying the bartender’s hand. After returning from a brief trip to the DL, a lawyer at the bar quipped, “Michael, say hello to your new owner.”

The lineup card:

Table 1. Peter Brown and four guests, including a stunner of a blonde.

2. John Tisch.

3. Webby Award chairman Gerry Byrne in a Webby-ready casual suit, and Katherine Oliver.

4. Allen & Co. fortune heit Terry Kramer and Margo McNabb. Stilettos!

5. Bob Friedman and Stanley Jaffe.

6. Steve Cohen and CBS weather dude Dave Price, who wore sunglasses (hopefully prescription) for the majority of the meal and dropped a purple pen that was quickly returned by Michael’s staff. Sitting at the adjacent table? Al Roker, Price’s nemesis.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Wesley Clark & A Model Mystery

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgWe missed Jane Fonda by a day. Today’s lunch crowd was lacking the star power we’ve come to expect on our weekly visits so while we were disappointed our usual perch at the bar had been usurped by an unidentified exec, we didn’t miss much from our less than stellar seat a few stools down. We were, though, happy to spot our pal Jack Kliger. Lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane chatted up the Hachette honcho about the latest celebrity implosion that’s got everyone buzzing — the Rosie O’Donnell trainwreck that left the station at Monday’s Matrix Awards and crashed and burned with today’s surprise announcement that she is leaving The View in mid-June due to a reported contract dispute.

Kliger was among the stunned crowd of media elite that had to suffer through O’Donnell’s profane performance as emcee of the event that had her soon to be ex-boss Barbara Walters laying her face in her hands from her seat on the dais alongside such luminaries as Hillary Clinton and Arianna Huffington. “It was absolutely disgusting,” he said, adding that the editors from Woman’s Day and other Hachette books at his table were equally sickened by the comedian’s performance. The veteran magazine executive, who knows a thing or two about working with celebrities (remember George?), says it was O’Donnell’s ill-fated stint helming her own magazine was the “turning point” against launching further titles with stars moonlighting as editors. “We’ve learned that you can cover celebrities without giving celebrities their own magazine.” For every Oprah, says Kliger, there are scores of over-inflated egos and Hollywood headcases that are deluded into thinking they can run a magazine. “I was getting at least a proposal week,” he recalls of those days when O’Donnell was still masquerading as “The Queen of Nice.” Everyone from Jennifer Lopez to Jane Pauley(“she was talking to everyone”) was interested in adding the title of editor-in-chief to their resumes — with no personal investment, of course, he recalls. Long before the 2,000 attendees of Matrix witnessed what seemed like O’Donnell’s latest effort at career suicide, Kliger told fellow publishing bigwigs they were crazy to tie their bottom line to the star. “She’s a time bomb.” No kidding.

The rest of the crowd:

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Lunch at Michael’s: ‘We’re Off To Prison’

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgFor the boldface names and media mavens who flock to 55th & Fifth on a regular basis, the dining room is like a high school cafeteria without the adolescent angst. The richest and coolest kids in the class spend lots of time table hopping and there’s plenty of gossip on the menu. Today we got a heaping helping. Thanks to Mayor Joe Armstrong, we made the acquaintance of Worth magazine founder W. Randall Jones, who told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane and her pal, Hallmark’s corporate communications VP Jennifer Geisser, that he and Bob Friedman were enjoying today’s meal because “we’re off to prison on Friday.”

Randy, who is credited with turning Esquire around in the 80s (no wonder he was the best dressed man in the room), then explained he and Bob weren’t pulling a Martha. They’re headed for the boonies of Pennsylvania at week’s end to visit an unnamed pal “who got a little creative with accounting and a little something about corporate jets” and wound up in the slammer. A timely and cautionary tax season tale for all of you moguls out there …

Here’s a rundown on the rest of the ‘in’ crowd:

1. Hallmark Channel honcho Henry Schleiff (Happy Birthday!)and Kerry Kennedy.

2. Peter Brown.

3. Joe Armstrong and W. Randall Jones.

4. Quest’s Chris Meigher with Dominick Dunne who told us he’s headed out to Los Angeles to cover the Phil Spector trial for Vanity Fair. We’ve missed his reporting of late and eagerly await his dispatches from the left coast …

5. CBS’ Gil Schwartz with his agent Kris Dahl. The master spinmeister tells us his new book Crazy Bosses (Harper Collins) is due out May 8. One Hundred Bullshit Jobs, his last effort, is soon to be released on paperback. Next time you’re looking for material on these subjects, Gil, be sure to give us a call.

6. Paul Wilmot, Time Inc.’s Kate Betts and a few unidentified fashionistas.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Is Dave Zinczenko Ready For Prime Time?

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Magazine moguls kept things interesting today at 55th and Fifth. Without the usual intriguing mix of celebrities (who were, undoubtedly still recovering from Oscar overload) to observe, we spent the afternoon wondering what the editors and behind-the-scenes execs were plotting over their cobb salads. Our good friend, Men’s Health honcho Dave Zinczenko, told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane that he’s “close” to inking a television deal with Al Roker‘s production company. The program would be a showcase for the burgeoning Men’s Health brand and might even feature the always camera-ready Dave who has been refining his telegenic talents on Today‘s couch for some time now.

Here’s the rundown on the rest of the crowd who dined & dished:

1. Nightline’s Cynthia McFadden, Ruth Friendly and an unidentified gentleman. We caught Cynthia’s broadcast the other night where she reported on the on-going Anna Nicole Smith saga. Kudos for striking just the right tone of dispassionate distaste while filling us in (we want to, but we can’t look away) on the latest details of this train wreck that won’t go away.

2. Michael Lewittes and an unidentified blonde gal.

3. Wayne Tabach.

4. Today’s Al Roker and Jim Bell.

5. Gerry Byrne and guest.

6. Liz Finkel, with we hear, her fiancé. Congrats!

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Lunch at Michael’s: Teddy, Liz & The Gang

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgThe dining room at Michael’s was buzzing today with moguls and media mavens who did more than the usual amount of table-hopping between bites — standing-room only in the bustling lounge as the regulars and requisite movers and shakers were out in force. (Liz! Lesley! The “Mayor”!) Even the bar was a power perch: captain of industry Teddy Forstmann and a mysterious dark-haired beauty were deep in coversation tucked away in the corner. They may not have been checking out the scene from their stools but we were:

1. Gotham’s greatest local line-up — anchorwomen and reporters Peri Peltz, Jane Hansen (love the longer chic ‘do!), Rosanna Scotto, Penny Crone and Lynn White. We’d love to know what the headlines from this afternoon were after this crowd was through dishing and dining …

2. Producer Jonathan Hart and guest.

3. “Mayor” Joe Armstrong and Men’s Health honcho Dave Zinczenko. The always dashing duo chatted with today’s lunchtime chronicler, Diane Clehane, about their jam-packed itineraries. Joe is just back from his third trip with Habitat for Humanity where he was building houses (literally) in the still devastated areas of New Orleans. Says Joe: “It’s incredible. Thirty-thousand homes were lost where we were. People need to know there is still so much that needs to be done. It’s devastating.” The inexhaustible Dave is busy preparing for his first trip to the Oscars where he’ll hobnob with A-list agents and talent at the hot parties around town. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it … His Oscar pick? “I’m rooting for Scorsese.”

4. Power blondes Liz Smith and Lesley Stahl lunching with Christine Quinn (whose two discreet but imposing-looking bodyguards kept watch at the door). Could there be a 60 Minutes piece on the city council speaker in the works? We’ll have to ask Mayor Armstrong — — Liz pulled up a chair and joined Joe and Dave after her guests left and “closed the place” long after the rest of the lunch crowd departed

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