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Posts Tagged ‘Cece Cord’

Matt Blank, Dennis Basso and the Story Behind Meghan McCain’s Latest TV Project

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Last week,  it was all about authors and agents, and today it was television titans’ turn in the rotating cast of characters that is Wednesdays at Michael’s. Tonight when Liz Smith hosts her annual kick-off for her Literacy Partners’ initiative, the joint will be jumping with social types like Diane von Furstenberg (who, we hear, recently broke her shoulder skiing and is, no doubt, sporting a fashionable sling) and her Vespa loving hubby Barry Diller, Cynthia McFadden, Cornelia Guest, Calvin TrillinNan Talese and Gay Talese. We won’t be there to trade air kisses with the glitterati, because we’ll be chatting up our favorite Bravolebrities at their upfront party across town (Giggy, that means you!).

Today I was joined by Evan Shapiro, president of pivot (yes, with a lower case ‘p’) the new cable network targeting the all-important millennial audience  launched by Participant Media, the production company responsible for an impressive slate of projects, including An Inconvenient Truth, The Help and Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln. Participant chairman and founder Jeff Skoll and CEO Jim Berk tapped Evan to spearhead the company’s expansion into television in May of last year. Prior to that, he had served as president of IFC and Sundance Channel where we was responsible for award-winning program, like the buzzed about Portlandia.

I could barely keep up with Evan, whose passion for his latest gig was evident from the moment he sat down. The incredibly youthful 45-year-old father of two teenage girls told me running pivot is his “dream job,” because he’s doing more than creating what he considers groundbreaking television. “Ten years ago I would have said my dream job would have been at NBC or CBS.  Today, it’s this job because we’re doing something that’s going to have an impact on the world.” Evan dismisses the notion of millennials as spoiled and entitled and instead compares them to ‘the greatest generation’ saying, “Like ‘the greatest generation,’ they have been handed a series of events not of their own making, and, post 9/11 and the Great Recession, they have a real sense of their place in the world and want to make a difference.”

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Ringing in the Holidays With Harold Ford Jr., Star Jones & Donny Deutsch

1003_mockup.gifThe holiday revelry was in high gear today at Michael’s. Those miracle workers at reception — the amazing Loreal Sherman and Joana Andrade were working overtime to keep the high maintenance crowd happy. (Trust me, doing the seating chart here is an art form!) A little lunch for 13 hosted by Michael McCarty’s wife Kim McCarty was keeping things hopping at table one while a heaping helping of talking heads (Harold Ford Jr., Star Jones, Donny Deutsch), socialites (Becca Thrash, Muffy Potter Aston) and media mavens (Cindi Leive) were toasting the season with plenty of wine and good cheer. Don’t you just love those one percenters?

Diane Clehane & Joan Gelman

I was lunching today with producer Joan Gelman who I met in this very dining room when I first began doing the column. Joan and I have had plenty of great conversations over the years about television (Joan’s amazing resume includes producing stints at CBS and ABC in news and as David Letterman’s producer who remains “a god” to her — “He’s so talented” ) and politics. These days Joan is busier than ever working on a television show she’s got in development in Canada. (The details are top secret at the moment) Shuttling back and forth between here and there is nothing new for her since she produced the hit Triple Sensation there a while back.  Joan is also a passionate Democrat who cares deeply about the issues consuming the country right now — especially the financial inequities that have ignited protests around the country. “We have to do more to even things out,” she told me. Just this morning Joan attended a gathering where U.S. Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren spoke. “She is such an amazing woman,” marvels Joan. “She’s smart, she cares and she wants to restore the spirit of the country.” Joan told me Ms. Warren’s message was a “positive” one and that she believes fervently in healing “the great divide” that has consumed the country and seeped into national politics. We both agreed that she’s facing a tough battle against incumbent Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown because female candidates are held to a different standard than their male counterparts. “She’s a brave woman.” Indeed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

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Tom Brokaw, Trudie Styler, Joan Rivers & Happy Birthday, Jon Meacham!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

If you were wondering why the streets of midtown seemed a bit quiet today it was because everyone — well, almost everyone — was at Michael’s today. I could barely keep up as the A-listers filed in one after another (Tom Brokaw! Jon Meacham!) and random celebs (Trudie Styler, Joan Rivers) drifted by.

And to think I was worried I missed all the action when Gabriel Byrne and Chelsea Clinton made appearances last Thursday. If it’s Wednesday, you can pretty much always count on a head-spinning lunchtime scene at 55th and Fifth.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Joan Rivers, presiding over a table full of folks including John Miller and some execs from WEtv. We’re guessing the group was feting Joan over the ratings success of the first season of her reality show, Mother Knows Best. (Glasses of white wine were being raised.) The compulsively watchable series starring Joan and Melissa Rivers chronicled the roller coaster ride of their mother-daughter relationship. When it wasn’t making me laugh out loud, it had me in tears. I should have expected as much since Joan put it all out there in A Piece of Work, the documentary which chronicled her fascinating life on and off stage.

Before she made her way to her table, I grabbed her for a chat and asked if she’d attended the royal wedding, since she’s been a guest of Prince Charles at many a dinner party at Highgrove. “I didn’t go,” she told me. “I’m a friend of Camilla‘s and none of her friends were invited.” Even so, she gave the wedding party high marks in the fashion department. (Much to their relief, I’m sure.) “Everybody looked fabulous!”

2. Stephen Swid with two gents that looked like they stepped right out of the pages of a Judith Krantz novel

3. Trudie Styler and two scholarly looking gents. (One was toting a folder from a school whose name we just couldn’t make out from afar) I’m thinking the fellows were from the Child Mind Institute at Hunter College where Trudie gave a well-received talk yesterday on her own childhood struggles with ADHD and dyslexia. Thanks to my pal blogger Beth Arky for giving me the heads up on this one.

4. Sony Television head Steve Mosko and Jerry Stiller (Yes, Ben‘s dad.)

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Joe Torre, Joan Collins and a Mogul Mashup

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I knew I was in for an interesting afternoon when I saw ’80s icon Joan Collins and former Yankee skipper Joe Torre arrive at Michael’s within minutes of each other. Where else would you possibly expect to run into two icons at the opposite ends of the pop cultural spectrum at lunch in Manhattan? The funny thing was barely anyone noticed. The  crowd was much too busy trying to figure out what all the media moguls were discussing at their tables. Sorry to disappoint, but I can’t read lips so I’m not much help on that front. However, I can report these captains of industry barely took a breath between bites and there were a lot of points being made with forks in the air.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Discovery ID’s head honcho Henry Schleiff, holding court with four important-looking folks

2. Joan Collins, husband Percy Gibson and an unidentified preppie. The Dynasty star was in full diva mode as she sauntered to her table peering out at the crowd from beneath the brim of her gray cowboy hat. Alexis Carrington lives!

3.  For a minute we thought Bono might be stopping by when we heard manager Paul McGuinness had reserved the table, but it turned out his guests were two folks who definitely were not members of U2.

4. Mike Ovitz, talking a blue streak while his lunch date spent much of the time listening with his arms crossed. Whatever could that body language mean?

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Lunch: Barbara Walters, Frank Langella & Kathie Lee Gifford

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was a tasty mix of media mavens, social types and the random celebrity (Frank Langella was in the house!) on the menu at Michael’s today: The dining room was so packed, they were shoehorning tables in everywhere. I was glad I got there early so I was able to grab some of the regulars on the way to their tables before they got down to some serious dining and dishing. Kathie Lee Gifford was one of the first to arrive, announcing, “Ah, springtime!” as she came through the door. She’s got plenty to smile about these days as her latest book, Just When I Thought I’d Dropped My Last Egg (Ballantine), hit the New York Times bestseller list. I just has to ask Kathie Lee what she thought about her pal Joan Rivers winning The Celebrity Apprentice, besting her arch enemy poker player Annie Duke and the nasty showdown the women had on the finale. “I was thrilled for her. Anyone that knows Joan knows she’s a friend to the end — and any time a 75-year-old wins anything, it’s good for all of us!”

I was lunching today with Alexandra Trower, Estee Lauder’s executive vice president of global communications. This consummate public relations pro has been with the company just over a year now, having made the switch from banking (she was SVP of media relations for Bank of America) to the beauty biz. This week, Alex scored a major hit with a front-page story on Estee Lauder’s new CEO Fabrizio Freda in WWD Beauty Biz. We had a terrific chat about the famous faces and captains of industry we’ve both come to know. It’s amazing what a small world Manhattan can be!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Today show twosome Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb with Kathie Lee’s right-hand gal Christine and Hoda’s chic pal Sunny

2. Literary lioness Lynn Nesbitt and Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong dining with Kerry Kennedy and her charming young daughter Michaela

4. Barbara Walters and Frank Langella

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Lunch: Katie Couric & The Fashion Flock

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— DIANE CLEHANE

You’d think all the fabulous fashionistas would have fled Gotham by now (they’ve got to rest up for Fashion Week which is just around the corner). Nothing doing: The style mavens and social swans that populate the front row of those shows you can never get into were out in force today at Michael’s. Katie Couric breezed in looking chicer than ever although she couldn’t tell me whose dress she was wearing. She let me peek at the label — it was Brian Reyes. “My daughter told me about his sample sale,” says Couric. But it’s not all summer fun for the CBS Evening News anchor. She’s off to the conventions soon and promises lots of “cool things.” Says Couric: “We’ve got a lot of great new things planned — podcasts and things on the Web. I think there’s a press release going out today.” Right you are, Katie, and TVNewser has it.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Hallmark honcho Henry Schleiff hosting a Court TV reunion with Hallmark staffer and Court TV alums Jennifer Geisser, Yvette Harrison and Rochelle Dire who just landed a new gig at Lime Wire.

2. Michael Hirshorn and two pals.

3. Charles Koppelman and Martha Stewart Living’s new co-president Robin Marino

4. Glamour‘s Cindi Leive (who looked tres chic with her short ‘do and killer Louboutins) and Katie Couric.

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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: Ralph Lauren Is Into Leather

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgFashion designers are a strange bunch. These arbiters of style often appear in some head-scratching ensembles that, if they were mere mortals, would land them squarely in “What were they thinking?” territory. We’re always on the lookout for the sartorially splendid during our weekly visits to 55th & Fifth, so we were really excited to hear Ralph Lauren was coming today. Imagine our surprise when the man who perfected WASP and western chic moseyed on into the dining room sporting what for all the world looked like leather-fringed chaps. A new fashion statement from his upcoming collection? We surely hope not.

We were even more intrigued when a little birdie told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane it was likely the first time fashion’s $10 billion man was in the same room with biographer extraordinaire Michael Gross, who penned the deliciously dishy tome Genuine Authentic: The Real Life of Ralph Lauren. New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn praised the book in her review, saying it “hacks through the hype and half-truths” of Lauren’s far flung lifestyle empire. We’re pleased to report the two gentlemen remained on opposite ends of the room, keeping things oh so civilized.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

Table 1. Ralph Lauren and a table full of business types.

2. Peter Brown.

3. Attention parrot heads: An almost unrecognizable Jimmy Buffett — in a blue blazer and dress shirt! — with two guests. (Mr. Mayor, were art thou?)

4. Jeffrey Katzenberg. The DreamWorks CEO was sporting his signature California casual look (v-neck and T-shirt). He passed the time waiting (?!) for his guest by sipping iced tea and reclining back in his chair elbows akimbo. When a blonde gal in a black power suit finally arrived to join him, we recognized the face, but no one seemed to know her name …

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