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Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Zarem’

Lunch: Power Blondes Rule! Katie Couric, Tina Brown and Barbara Walters Hold Court

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Today at Michael’s, they were dishing like it was 2007. As if the head-spinning assortment of media alpha gals (Katie! Tina! Barbara!) wasn’t enough to keep us busy, the dining room, bar and lounge was jam-packed with mavens and moguls of all stripes who barely made time to peck at their Cobb salads between all the table-hopping. It was hard to keep up! I made my rounds in the dining room to check in with the regulars, and all anyone wanted to know was ‘Who else is here today?’ (I’ve always thought this place was just like a high school cafeteria, but with better clothes.) Plenty of heads turned when Katie Couric breezed in sporting a chic, shorter ‘do and a pretty polka dot summer dress. The woman sitting next to me whispered, “She looks 35!” We have to agree. I caught Katie on her way to her table just long enough to ask what she has planned for her summer vacation next month. No trips to Wasilla for the CBS News’ anchor: “I’m going to the beach with my daughters to enjoy my time with them before Ellie goes off to college!”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Katie Couric, Lifetime’s CEO Andrea Wong, Deborah Roberts, Sherrie Westin and Cynthia McFadden

2. Jeanine Pirro with publicist Adam Schiff and an unidentified bespectacled gal. I hadn’t talked to Jeanine since I profiled her for Westchester magazine last fall on the eve of the premiere of her show, Judge Jeanine. With one season under her robe, Jeanine is thrilled — “We’re in syndication now!” Life must be pretty good for the former Westchester DA — she was tan and dressed to the nines, toting a gorgeous alligator bag.

3. The ladies who lunch: Somers Farkas (in Pucci) with three other social swans

4. Barbara Walters and Diana Taylor

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Lunch: Kerry Kennedy, Monica Crowley & Barbara Walters

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Maybe it was the gorgeous pre-Memorial Day weather, but the mood in the dining room at Michael’s today was noticeably upbeat. The usual suspects were out in force, and it seems everyone has caught a whiff of the optimism in the air. A welcome change, to say the least.

I was lunching today with Linda Gaunt, who I first met during her days as EVP of communications for Giorgio Armani: She was nice enough to provide me with an original sketch of a dress Mr. Armani had designed for Princess Diana that she never got to wear. I used it in the forward of my book, Diana: The Secrets of Her Style, and it is one of my favorite images from its pages. Since launching her own firm on Madison Avenue five years ago, Linda Gaunt Communications, Linda has amassed an impressive roster of clients, including Donna Karan’s Urban Zen, Versace, and The Whitney — and she just signed Hanro and Chantelle. Her results-oriented approach to PR has done wonders for her luxury fashion and lifestyle clients. Rather than sit back and wait for what happens next, says Linda, it is a critical time for companies to get smart about public relations and go after market share with “a targeted approach that really understands what the consumer wants and give them a reason to buy.” Sounds like good advice to us…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Leslee Dart, Vanity Fair scribe Leslie Bennetts and Mary Alice Williams

2. The always dashing Henry Schleiff and Kerry Kennedy, who told me she is so excited about the online auction that’s going on now through May 28 for The RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights. Kerry has assembled a stellar list of lots for bidding, including a meet-and-greet with Oprah Winfrey and a day during Fashion Week with Vogue‘s man about town Andre Leon Talley. The money raised goes to aid the work being done on behalf of those in need in many areas including the Gulf Coast and in Darfur.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, George Farias and Fox News’ Monica Crowley (loved the necklace!) Seems the Mayor felt like he needed some fortification since he was lunching with two staunch Republicans, so he brought along an Obama bobblehead doll (which was a dead ringer for the president, by the way) and placed him squarely on the table for support. It definitely got our attention! I was glad I stopped by to say hello to the talkative trio who was dining early because Monica had to be back at the studio and on air this afternoon. Did you know that she is a team member of the Council on Foreign Relations? Now you do … George, who is always such a gentleman, had some good dish to share: He told me Nancy Reagan will be making a rare appearance at the Capitol on June 3 for the unveiling of a statue of President Reagan. Mark your calendars!

4. Barbara Walters (all in red!) and ABC Daytime head Brian Frons dishing about one ‘hot topic’ or another, I’m sure…

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Lunch: Barbara Walters, Barry Diller & Dana Perino

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I’m glad I got to Michael’s early today because by 12:30 they were literally lining up outside the front door to get in the joint. Even the Garden Room (Siberia to the uninitiated) was SRO. The groups of wannabe diners at the bar and in the lounge were enviously eyeing the tables occupied by the famous and fabulous in the front room as they dined and dished without notice. Who says there’s no class system in America?

Ah, but you know better, and so do the regulars who, despite hurricane winds and the worst traffic we’ve seen all year, found their way to their power perches to see and be seen by Gotham’s glitterati. Perception is reality these days and from where I sat, it’s business as usual for these folks. We spotted Michael Fuchs working the room like nobody’s business, shaking hands with Matt Blank, Jon Tisch and an assortment of moguls who crossed his path. Others, such as Barry Diller, were riveted to the conversation at their own table. Working on some killer deal, no doubt.

I made my way around the jam-packed dining room to check in with my pals. I needed the breathing room since it was elbow to elbow at the bar, and I was seated across from a gleeful foursome who were celebrating something over a few beers. (See, despite what you’ve been reading not everything is gloom and doom). I was happy to stop and chat with Men’s Health honcho David Zinczenko and his former public relations man (and brand new dad to seven-week-old son Benjamin!) Jon Hammond. Jon, who also worked for Conde Nast Traveler, now works for the NBA as senior director of community and player programs communications. Somehow, the three of us got into a lively discussion about the merits of Twitter. “All my guys are doing it,” says Jon of the NBA players he’s working with. I shared that in working on an upcoming story for Variety, I’ve discovered that some pretty high-level folks are saying it’s an effective way “to build a brand.” David, who never misses a thing, had a brainstorm within seconds of hearing our cases for using Twitter professionally. Look for Men’s Health to have its own Twitter feed in the not-too-distant future where readers can join in the conversation about things like the magazine’s highly popular “Eat This, Not That” franchise. Dave also gave me some scoop about some changes afoot in the next issue of Men’s Health: Fans of recently shuttered Best Life (we loved it!) will be happy to hear that, according to Dave, “the best elements of Best Life are being incorporated” into Men’s Health. Makes sense to us. And, Best Life‘s former editor, Stephen Perrine, is now heading up the newly created position of overseeing books from Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines. Congrats!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. A smiling Barry Diller and a bespectacled gent we didn’t recognize…

2. Jonathan Tisch and a dark-haired beauty. Jon had a big hello for Hoda Kotb when he spotted her across the room.

3. Showtime’s main man Matt Blank

4. Barbara Walters deep in conversation with Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s gal pal Diana Taylor

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Lunch: Valerie Bertinelli Weighs In

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— DIANE CLEHANE

As much as we love our bird’s eye perch from the bar, it’s always a treat when we’re invited to dine in the grown up section — especially when the scene is as head-spinning as it was today. Hallmark Channel’s senior vice president Jen Geisser and her power publicist Jaime Saberito made room for me at the table at a luncheon hosted by their fearless leader the consummate showman Henry Schleiff and attended by a tasty stew of bold-faced names and top executives from UNICEF that made for one interesting afternoon of Cobb salads and conversation. Henry, newly ensconced on UNICEF’s board, brought the group to together to kick off the TAP project during ‘World Water Week’ (March 16-22). The initiative was created to raise funds and awareness by asking NYC diners at select eateries around town to forego their Fiji water for good old NYC tap water and donate what they would have spent on it to help fund clean water for kids around the world. And, yes, Michael’s is participating.

The reigning queen of the celebrity diet wars Valerie Bertinelli (A 40-pound weight loss thanks to Jenny Craig!) was the guest of honor (arriving with her boyfriend Tom Vitale) having made one movie for the network with another one in the works — Mrs. Washington Goes to Smith (Catchy title!). The still adorable actress and newly minted best-selling author was busy signing books for everyone (Henry thinks of everything!) but still made time to chat with me. Her big news — her book, Losing It — And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at Time will debut at No. 1 on this week’s New York Times‘ list. “I’m so thrilled — it’s on my son’s 17th birthday and I dedicated the book to him,” she says. “I couldn’t be more blessed.” Val (we’re on a first name basis now) also confided that she’s hot on starting another book and already has an idea that’s bound to strike a chord. “I’d like to write something like Divorce & Children: Love Your Child More Than You Hate Your Ex. The list is long when one considers who might benefit from such a tome. For now, at least, it appears Silda Spitzer won’t be needing it but we’re not closing the book on that one just yet.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The white wine was flowing in celebration of Linda Fairstein‘s latest book, Killer Heat with a table full of gals that know a little something about the subject. In attendance: Cosmo editrix Kate White, super agent Esther Newberg, former Law & Order SVU star Stephanie March, Lesley Stahl (I promise to keep my eye out for that 60 Minutes watch!) and Cynthia Lufkin (Congrats on being named The American Cancer Society’s Mother of the Year!)

2. Bobby Zarem and a Jake Gyllenhaal doppelganger.

3. Mayor Joe Armstrong who has been traveling far and wide hard at work on his upcoming book with some lovely looking ladies. Welcome back Joe, we missed you!

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Lunch at Michael’s: Ken Sunshine: Lindsay’s Woes Are ‘Beyond PR Issues’

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We’ve truly hit the dog days of summer when there isn’t one Fiji water sipping-celeb in sight come high noon at 55th & Fifth. Luckily, that didn’t mean there was a shortage of Tinseltown talk in the dining room. The topic du jour — what else? — Lindsay Lohan’s latest arrest on suspicion of DUI. (For those two people who’ve been on the moon, it’s the starlet’s second bust in three months and comes on the heels of her recent 45-day stay at Promises and her big show of wearing an ankle bracelet that was supposedly programmed to detect any alcohol in her system). “If I were her publicist,” sighed one media maven, “I’d have my head in the oven.” Uber publicist Ken Sunshine, who represents one-time rehabber Ben Affleck, told me he’d received “tons of calls” from outlets near and far to weigh in on Lohan’s dire straits and said, “Her problems are beyond PR issues.” The Today Show‘s Marc Victor says Lohan’s relapse is sure to focus attention on the country club-like atmosphere of facilities that cater to coddled celebs: “That’s certainly something that will be looked at now.” The general consensus among today’s crowd is that this story has gone from tabloid train wreck to a truly tragic tale. “She needs compassion,” said Lisa Sharkey, Harper Collins’ senior vice president and director of creative development who, together with the house’s executive editor, Maureen O’Brien, was lunching with Sunshine. No doubt that’s exactly what the editors of Us Weekly, In Touch and TMZ.com are thinking …

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

1. Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina, Gerald Imber and another gentleman we didn’t recognize.

2. Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, Today‘s Marc Victor and Men’s Health editor Dave Zinczenko. Our pal Dave was overheard thanking Esquire‘s David Granger for putting a call into none other than George Clooney inviting him to speak at the upcoming American Magazine Conference about his work in Darfur. (Politicians are so last year!) To entice the Oscar winner, seems plans are in the works to see if there’s a way to “incentive-ize” publishers into offering ad space to help promote Clooney’s off-screen endeavor.

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Lunch at Michael’s: All Hail George Hamilton!

lunch_at_michaels_logo3.jpgIt seems only fitting that on the first truly sweltering day of the summer, today’s celebrity sighting du jour was none other than George (“They’re toasted!”) Hamilton. Looking slightly less well done than we’ve seen him on Dancing with the Stars and those clever Ritz crackers commercials, the ageless entertainer caused quite a stir among today’s lunchtime set when he sauntered in with Allen Grubman. Looking dapper in blue pinstripes, Hamilton chatted with lots of folks including actor Ron Livington and Barbara Walters. Lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane caught up with Barbara on her way out to ask what she thought of Larry King’s decision to interview Paris Hilton. “I think it’s fine,” she said. “He should do it. I’m glad it’s not me.” Opting to stay mum on what her first question would have been if she had done her sitdown with the heirhead as she’d originally planned she demurred, “I’m not thinking about it at all.” On a (slightly) less controversial note Ms. Walters offered this reply when we inquired about when we can expect to find out who will fill Rosie O’Donnell‘s spot on The View: “We have to decide by the end of the month because we’re off in August, so soon.” We can’t wait.

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

1. GCI’s Marc Rosen and a table full of guests.

2. CBS spinmeister Gil Schwartz.

3. Joe Armstrong, fresh off his latest visit to Paul Newman‘s Hole in the Wall Gang camp in Ashford, Connecticut for children with cancer. Said the mayor of his stint as a ‘camp counselor’: “It was so wonderful to see all these kids battling these terrible diseases having the time of their lives. It makes you realize how insignificant your problems are.” (Hear that, Paris?) Joe introduced us to his good friend, Harper Collins’ Jonathan Burnham, whose latest bestseller The Regan Diaries is selling like mad. Jonathan told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane that he’d love to sign up Princes William and Harry to a book deal. Considering the through the roof ratings Matt Lauer scored with his sitdown for Dateline with Diana‘s sons, we’d say it’s a fabulous idea. The verdict is in on the hotter than hot heir and the spare: They’ve clearly got the same star quality that their mother was blessed — and cursed — with.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Forget Michael Caine — It’s Star Jones!

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgImagine our disappointment when we heard that had we chosen to come by on Monday, we’d have been sipping Bloody Marys at the bar with Claire Danes and Natasha Richardson. Luckily, there were enough faces in today’s crowd from filmdom, fashion and, of course, publishing to satisfy our appetite for observing bold face names in action.

While we were intrigued to spot Michael Caine and Vernon Jordan at opposite ends of the dining room, we were most interested to catch up with Star Jones who slipped in after most of the crowd had begun tucking into their Cobb salads. The svelte and smiling Star told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane that she’s thrilled about her yet to be titled Court TV show set to debut on August 20th. “They’re calling it The Star Jones Project for now,” she said over her lunch of soft-shelled crab. “I think they want to announce the name at TCA.” Was it really just a little under a year ago that Star’s tumultuous departure from The View was Barbara Walters‘ biggest problem? No matter. That’s all ancient history now anyway, says this fall’s comeback kid who plans to spend her summer vacation jetting between Europe and the Hamptons: “This is a joyous time in my life.” See, there really are happy endings.

Here’s a rundown of the crowd:

Table 1. Howard Rubenstein and Betsy Perry presiding over a table full of gents in suits and grand dames in pearls.

2. Star Jones and her friend David (whose last name we didn’t quite catch).

3. Jonathan Tisch, Wayne Tabach and a bespectacled gentleman we didn’t recognize …

4. Two-time Oscar winner Michael Caine (That’s Sir Michael to you) and, we’re told, Bobby Zarem‘s brother (?). Quick: For which films did this tireless thespian nab his little gold men? Answer: Cider House Rules in 1999 and Hannah And Her Sisters in 1986. According to Michael (McCarty, who owns the joint), Caine and his wife have dined here “hundreds of times” (we’ve just never seen them on our weekly Wednesday visits) and “usually prefer the Garden Room.” So take that all you wannabes — it’s not Siberia, it’s chic!

5. Peter Brown and guest.

6. Terry Allen Kramer, who passed the time waiting for fellow diners Margo McNabb and Claire Mercuri by checking her cell phone.

7. Dave Zinczenko with The Waverly Inn’s chef John DeLucie. The Men’s Health honcho, who has become something of a cheerleader for Graydon Carter‘s downtown hotspot, introduced John to Michael and general manager Steve Millington. The culinary confab kicked off a nonstop food fest that left DeLucie and Zinczenko begging for mercy. After sampling everything from salmon carpaccio to foie gras to duck, the duo joked that today’s meal was a marked departure from The Abs Diet. “It’s more like the three hour workout meal,” said Dave.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Al & Meredith Talk Skateboarding

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpg On the menu today: a tasty stew of media moguls and television titans with a dash of talking heads to spice things up. After making the rounds and checking in with some of our favorite regulars, we were thrilled to chat with our good pals Today’s Meredith Vieira and Al Roker. The always affable Ms. Vieira (who we’ve not seen at Michael’s before) and Mr. Roker told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane that plans are in the works for the show to travel to China this summer to do some segments as a walk up to next year’s blowout Olympic coverage in Beijing. “Meredith is going to be skateboarding on the Great Wall,” joked Al. Somehow, we wouldn’t put it past Today.

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

1. The Early shift: Charlie Rose and Neal Shapiro; late shift: Cheri Kaufman of Kaufman Astoria Studios.

2. Nightline‘s Cynthia McFadden (sporting a great tan), Silda Wall Spitzer (wife of Governor Spitzer) and her director of Children for Children Margo Jones.

3. Mayor Joe Armstrong (who was happy to show us that Jimmy Buffett signed his “boot” — which doubles as a vase — on his last visit while Joe was away). Joe was dining with two lovely ladies: Dr. Sarah Simms Rosenthal and Jane Hartley. When we complimented Dr. Simms Rosenthal, an Ali McGraw lookalike, on her stunning summer ensemble, she told us she’s actually turned last year’s dress into a fabulous white embroidered skirt which she was wearing with a classic black T-shirt. Tres chic!

4. Time Inc.’s John Huey.

5. Gerald Schoenfeld, chairman of the Schubert Organization.

6. Fashion central: Cece Cord, Cameron Silver, owner of Decades, the haute Los Angeles boutique, Becca Cason Thrash and IMG’s The Daily Jim Shi. (Thanks for filling us in, Jim!)

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Lunch at Michael’s: All Hail Tina Brown!

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When a little birdie told us to switch our weekly reservation from Wednesday to Thursday so as not to miss the confab of publishing powerhouses that were expected today, we did so in a heartbeat. We’re happy to report today’s crowd didn’t disappoint. Where else could you see Newsweek honcho Jon Meacham bow down to Tina Brown at Mayor Joe Armstrong‘s table, or watch a gaggle of social swans fawn over Project Runway breakout star Tim Gunn while cooling their Jimmy Choos in the lounge? The worlds of substance and style collided today at 55th & Fifth.

The results kept us so busy gawking that we barely finished our salad nicoise:

1. Mayor Joe Armstrong presiding over one of his legendary lunches with a host of truly impressive guests. Tina Brown arrived looking every inch the power blonde in black leather and was greeted with great fanfare by all including an enthusiastic hug from neighboring diner and former Condé Nast colleague Shirley Lord. We can’t wait for Tina’s new book, The Diana Chronicles, due out in June from Doubleday with an excerpt to run in Vanity Fair. Word is she breaks big news about the People’s Princess. We can’t imagine what’s left to reveal, but we’re all ears! Joe kept the conversation flowing among pals Liz Smith, Newsweek‘s Jon Meacham, ABC News producer Kathy O’Hearn, Random House’s Susan Mercandetti (who edited Bob Woodruff‘s new book, In An Instant. The ABC newsman’s tale of recovery following his near-death experience in Iraq as written mainly by his wife will debut at number one on the Times bestseller list Sunday, March 16. Couldn’t happen to nicer guy!).

Always the gentleman, Joe took time out from keeping things lively to introduce lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane to two of his other guests, Vanity Fair correspondent Marie Brenner and Newsweek scribe Holly Peterson. We’ve been fans of Marie’s ever since she took on the tobacco industry in a piece that became the basis for The Insider. Joe teased that her upcoming expose on Guantanamo Bay for Vanity Fair will be even more explosive. We’re really intrigued by Holly’s new book, The Manny, — which earned her $1 million for the book and movie rights. (Not bad for a first timer.) The novel taps into the cultural zeitgeist by chronicling the fictional exploits of a male nanny who does more for Upper East Side yummy mummies than look after their kiddies. The sure-to-be-bestseller is also due out here in June from HarperCollins but is already selling like mad in the U.K.

2. Shirley Lord & Peter Brown.

3. Charlie Rose and Zoe Baird. The talkshow host looking more debonair than usual (the no tie look really works for you, Charlie) held Ms. Baird’s rapt attention throughout lunch — must have been a very intriguing tale …

4. ‘Entourage’ East: EMI president Charlie Walk with four black-suited young gents.

5. Herb Siegal.

6. Freddy Gershorn and Steve Swid.

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