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Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Wasserstein’

Lunch: Andre Leon Talley — Media Star!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We missed Blythe Danner by a day. Too bad, I would have loved to have asked her what she thinks of her daughter’s goofy — but strangely compelling — Web site, GOOP. It’s the gospel according to Gwyneth, where she holds forth on all things great and small — from how to wear a little black dress to how she got rid of her ‘Shar-Pei-like stomach’ after her pregnancies (I’m not kidding). No matter. The dining room was jam-packed, as it’s been for weeks on Wednesdays now. Even the bar was standing room only. I was happy to catch up with my pals ‘The Bar-ettes’ Kira Semler and Vi Huse (They had to cancel a few weeks back because of that dreadful storm). But today spring was in the air, and from the looks of things, everyone was feeling upbeat.

I was thrilled when my friend Andre Leon Talley asked me to join him and Linda Wachner for coffee. Looking dapper as can be, Vogue‘s main man was fresh off his appearance on Today this morning, where he chatted with Meredith Vieira (“She was so easy to talk to”) about his much-anticipated March cover story on Michelle Obama. “I’m really proud of it,” says Andre of his exclusive up close and personal profile of the First Lady. There had been plenty of speculation on whether Mrs. Obama would be gracing the cover of the fashion bible after her hairdresser (who is getting his own reality show) semi-spilled the beans, but Andre says everyone at Vogue was sworn to secrecy. Now that it’s official, he’s making the rounds to talk about what it was like to spend time with the First Lady for the piece. He taped a segment for NBC Nightly News this morning, and he was off to do a sit-down after lunch with Wolf Blitzer (and he’s going back to CNN for a second appearance tomorrow). With so much interest surrounding the story and accompanying images, I’m predicting the issue will be one of the magazine’s strongest sellers ever. “I think it’s going to be huge,” says Andre. It’s a pretty safe bet, I’d say …

Andre told me he was struck by the First Lady’s “focus and clarity” about her new life and, of course, was duly impressed by her fierce determination and commitment to give her girls as normal a life as possible. “She doesn’t want them to grow up in a bubble,” he reports. Andre saw the bond between mother and daughters firsthand as he made the seven-hour train ride with the Obamas as they journeyed from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. to the inauguration. It was something to see, he said, when the girls threw their mom a surprise birthday party on the train, having spent two hours decorating the car in secret. Michelle was understandably thrilled, says Andre. “Her genuine warmth is amazing.” We both agree it’s high time interesting people who are actually doing something push the 11-pound, 11 year-old celebutantes who are famous for being famous from the spotlight. Could it be that ‘smart’ is the new cool? Here’s hoping…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Kevin Huvane (who got hugs from the staff upon his arrival) and a mystery gent…

2. The Early shift: Dennis Basso and Marjorie Gubelman; Second seating: Bruce Wasserstein and his lovely daughter Pamela.

3. CNBC’s Jonathan Wald and Dan Abrams. When I stopped by to say hello, they told me the two “old friends” were having a “catch up” lunch. The Late Show: Lanky Luke Janklow and a distinguished gray-haired gal.

4. Jack Kliger

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Lunch: The Special Post-Election Edition

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The Michael’s crowd was in full party mode today as television titans, media mavens and talking heads mingled gleefully with politicos who were celebrating Barack Obama‘s historic victory. “Finally, some good news!” exclaimed one of the regulars as he made his way into the jam-packed dining room. It seemed more than a bit poetic that on the eve of Camelot 2.0 Caroline Kennedy quietly made her way to table one, avoiding all the table-hopping and glad-handing that was going on around her. If there were any disappointed John McCain supporters in the room, they were keeping a low profile. Okay, Mary Matalin made the scene with hubby James Carville but she didn’t exactly look like she was celebrating. Everyone agreed Obama’s speech last night was stirring, but one observer offered this insight to chew on: “Sure it’s exciting, but it’s going to be pretty much impossible to live up to all this hype. The guy’s gotta be feeling some pressure.” If he is, he sure is wearing it well.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Early Show: Saturday Night Live scribe James Signorelli; Second shift: Caroline Kennedy, Jimmy Buffett and his wife Jamie

2. Producer Jon Hart, Doug Steiner and another gent we didn’t get to meet…

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, producer Susan Stroman (Young Frankenstein), uber-agent Ed Victor and his gorgeous wife Carol. A little birdie told me the ‘Mayor’ will be hosting one of his legendary lunches next week. We can’t wait!

4. Gerald Schoenfeld with an unidentified gent

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Print Media’s Revolving Door Appears to Only be Swinging One Way

revolving-door-283-thumb.jpgJournalism’s long dark week of exits continues today with the announcement that John French, head of Bruce Wasserstein‘s magazine empire Penton Media is stepping down. French informed a reportedly surprised staff of the decision saying that it was the result of numerous discussions with the board of directors “regarding the organization’s evolution and the leadership needs going forward.” And so, another one bites the dust, as they say.

One media investment type told the Post’s Keith Kelly that “The job of a CEO of a traditional media company these days has the life expectancy of a second lieutenant in Vietnam.”

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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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Wasserstein’s American Lawyer Purchased For $630M

gavel_070507.jpgBig news on the trade journalism front: British firm Incisive Media is paying a quite healthy $630 million to purchase American Lawyer. For the past 10 years, American Lawyer Media Holdings has been owned by buyout specialist Bruce Wasserstein; the paid-in-cash purchase price includes American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, National Law Journal, Real Estate Forum, Law.com, GlobeSt.com and a number of other publications and websites favored by high-income lawyers. It’s a good deal for Incisive, which — though a market force in the UK — doesn’t have a large-scale American presence as of yet. FishbowlNY contacted lawblogger David Lat of Above the Law for his take on it. Lat speculates that since both Incisive Media and parent firm Apax Partners have roots in the U.K. and continental Europe, respectively, the purchase will mean a much greater emphasis on international coverage at Incisive’s new publications. Given that much of their coverage relates to overseas cases already (contaminated dog food, anyone?), this can only be a good thing for American Lawyer and its relatives.

Lunch at Michael’s: Ex-CBS News Prez Says Give Katie A Chance

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgAs much as we’ve come to enjoy our perch at the bar with its bird’s eye view, we were thrilled when one of our favorite television titans, Andrew Heyward, invited us to join him and his guests for lunch. Today’s lunchtime chronicler, Diane Clehane, chatted with the always affable and extremely insightful former president of CBS News and Bostonian pals Jeffrey F. Rayport, chairman and founder of Marketspace and his wife, investment consultant Hilary Hedge. Andrew, who is currently working with fellow Harvard alum Mr. Rayport as a consultant to Marketspace’s media practice, looked relaxed and happy (love the Zegna suit!) as he weighed in on his former employer’s decision to hire Katie Couric to anchor the evening news. “They are not to be underestimated. They deserve credit for trying new ideas and taking the program in new directions. The reporting is excellent.” His take on Couric: “She’s very talented and has brought a warmth to the broadcast. It takes time to find your voice and it takes time for viewers to find you.” So back off, you naysayers!

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

1. Bruce Wasserstein presiding over a table of imposing-looking gentlemen.

2. Peter Brown and Joan Cooney.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia with the lovely Joan Jacobson.

4. Herb Siegal and guest.

5. Producer Irv Winkler and an outdoorsy-looking gent. The hit-maker — whose latest picture, Rocky Balboa, has proven to be a knockout punch at the box office — was collared by Peggy Siegal (who was showing off her pics taken on a recent trip to Africa to all who stopped by) on his way out. The uber publicist was overheard extending an invite to Irv to attend her screening of “The Lives of Others.” Second shift: Former New York City Council president and one-time mayoral candidate Andrew Stein.

6. Our friend Terry Allen Kramer, Margo McNabb and guest.

7. A flack named “BJ,” we’re told …

8. Messieurs Heyward and Rayport, Ms. Hedge and Ms. Clehane.

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New York Responds To Brown Family

nymag-regan-cover.jpgEXCLUSIVE

As FishbowlNY first reported, lawyers for Denise Brown and Nicole Brown‘s are furious over this week’s New York magazine article by Vanessa Grigoriadis chronicling the O.J. Simpson book debacle and subsequent fall of Judith Regan at News Corp — specifically, the Brown family’s involvement in HarperCollins’ attempts to pay them off with profits from the ill-fated If I Did It book project.

New York magazine’s response, via spokesperson Serena Torrey:

New York’s story reflects the facts as we know them. News Corp. executives present at the meeting in Indianapolis say that one of the lawyers there was representing the Brown family in the negotiation. The Brown family maintains that that is not the case. A day after a prospective settlement was hammered out and presented, the Brown family conclusively rejected it. While Vanessa Grigoriadis called the Brown’s lawyer for comment 24 hours before final closing, we are sorry we were not able to represent the Browns’ position fully in the article.

Torrey adds that the magazine first became aware of the Browns’ complaints via FishbowlNY — when we obtained and posted a faxed letter from Brown family lawyer Natasha Roit to New York — and that it never arrived at New York‘s offices or those of its owner, Bruce Wasserstein:

Incidentally, the only place we’ve seen this letter is on your site today. It never arrived in any offices associated with New York magazine or Bruce Wasserstein.

EARLIER:

  • Nicole Brown Family Demands Retraction From New York Mag Over Regan Article
  • Brown Family’s Letter To New York [PDF]
  • Nicole Brown Family Demands Retraction From New York Mag Over Regan Article

    nymag-regan-cover.jpgEXCLUSIVE

    The family of Nicole Brown is demanding a retraction and correction to assertions made by Vanessa Grigoriadis in her article published by New York magazine yesterday chronicling the O.J. Simpson book debacle and subsequent fall of Judith Regan at News Corp.’s HarperCollins.

    In a faxed letter to New York magazine owner Bruce Wasserstein obtained by FishbowlNY yesterday, attorneys for Denise Brown and Nicole Brown’s family claim that the article contains “blatant and intentional factual misrepresentations” about the Brown family’s involvement in HarperCollins’ attempts to assuage them with payout profits from the ill-fated If I Did It book project. [UPDATE: New York tells FishbowlNY that it stands by its story, and contends it never received the letter.]

    The lawyers for the Browns contend that a key part of Grigoriadis’ story — about News Corp. reps flying to Indianapolis to meet with the families to “hash out details of a payout” is “patently untrue”:

    “Neither the Browns nor any representatives of the family participate in any such meeting … they did not fly to Indianapolis, they did not ‘sit down’ with HarperCollins, they did not ‘hash out’ any details.”

    Indianapolis, the lawyers point out, is the hometown of the attorney for Fred Goldman and “has nothing to do with the Brown family.”

    Grigoriadis wrote that “the Browns had been agreeable to the payout of about $5 million” but that Denise Brown went on the Today Show to proclaim the family’s rejection of NewsCorp’s “hush money.” “The Browns did not agree to a payout,” says Brown attorney Natasha Roit.

    “While your writer contends that NewsCorp was grappling with their sense of regret, from the moment the Browns contacted me, both myself and Denise Brown were barraged with phone calls not only insisting we accept a payout, but do so within a time limit, as NewsCorp wanted a press release noting the family’s acceptance and acquiescence to their project moving forward.”

    Roit also claims the magazine did not give her a fair chance to respond to Grigoriadis’ assertions.

    “Specifically, your writer, Vanessa Grigoriadis, contacted me for comment about these items last Friday when I was unavailable in Court. Upon return, I called her back and advised her that her information was untrue and that I could substantiate the same. Having not heard from her over the weekend, I called again today, and, again, received no response. You went to print without making the correction or even including a denial. … Your writer knew at press time that information was available to counter her ‘source’ and intentionally chose not to pursue it.”

    UPDATE: New York Responds To Brown Family

  • Brown Family’s Letter To New York [PDF]
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