TVNewser FishbowlDC AgencySpy TVSpy LostRemote PRNewser SocialTimes AllFacebook 10,000 Words GalleyCat UnBeige MediaJobsDaily

Posts Tagged ‘Christie Hefner’

Dishing With a Downton Abbey Star

LunchAtMichaelsThere are Michael’s lunches and then there are Michael’s lunches. Over the course of all the years I’ve been chronicling the scene on Wednesdays at 55th and Fifth for this column, I’ve had plenty of occasion to dine and dish with the famous and infamous, strivers and stars and more than my fair share of pop cultural icons. When I think about what I love most about this gig, I have to paraphrase Forrest Gump: Each Wednesday at Michael’s is like a box of (very expensive) chocolates because you never know what you’re going to get. Today, I got the chance to spend a delightful few hours with Lesley Nicol, who plays Mrs. Patmore, the blustery and big-hearted cook on Downton Abbey, my absolute favorite television show. As anyone who follows my posts on Facebook and minute-by-minute recaps for XFinity knows, I am beyond obsessed with the PBS hit, so I was more than a little excited about the chance to have a lengthy sitdown with one of my favorite actors of the series. And Lesley didn’t disappoint.

Diane Clehane and Lesley Nicol

Diane Clehane and Lesley Nicol

She arrived — and looked quite chic in leather pants and high heel boots! — right on the dot of 12:15 for our lunch and promptly charmed everyone in the place, telling GM Steve Millington the dining room was “gorgeous” and graciously chatting with a few fans who stopped by the table to say their hellos. As she looked around the mercifully subdued dining room, I explained that Michael’s was the place to be for all sorts of movers and shakers and, of course, the random celebrity. “Joan Collins was here a few weeks ago,” I told her searching my mental Rolodex for the name of a British star I could mention. “Probably ate a few lettuce leaves,” said Lesley. I knew I’d love her.

We quickly dispensed with ordering (Dover sole for two) and settled in for our chat — and after five minutes I felt as if I’d known her forever. Lesley told me she was in town for a flurry of meetings with her new New York agents at Bauman Redanty & Shaul, who she’d hadn’t yet met, and with casting director Avy Kaufman. Her PR rep, Andrew Freedman, who moved his firm from New York to Los Angeles a few years ago, had managed to arrange our lunch between all these big doings.  She’d also found time to take in a Brooklyn production of Julius Caesar, whose all-female cast included her good friend Susan Brown as Casca. But, she confided, she was really looking forward to tonight’s after-party for Thor on the off chance she’d get to meet her celeb crush, Sir Anthony Hopkins, who appears in the film. “He is just gorgeous,” she said as she speared a Brussels sprout, “If he’s there, I’ll probably be too tongue tied. I’ll just drop down and die.”
Read more

Mediabistro Course

Magazine Writing

Magazine WritingStarting September 4, learn how to get your work in top publications! You'll learn how to create captivating stories editors will want and readers will love, understand which magazines are right for your stories, craft compelling pitch letters, and more! You'll leave this class with two polished articles and corresponding pitch letters. Register now! 

Playboy In Talks With London Fog Owner

kim-kardashian-playboy-cover.jpg
Stocks soared today after news that Hugh Hefner‘s publishing house, Playboy Enterprises Inc., was reportedly being negotiated for a sale to Iconix Brand Group Inc. Playboy‘s struggles with its finances this past year have been well-documented, and Hugh’s daughter Christine Hefner stepping down from her role as CEO of the Playboy publisher earlier this year only added to the unraveling faith in the company that had felled 76 percent of their stock in under five years. However, reports of a buy-out jumped the publishing house 33 percent up to $3.80 before noon, and may have closed the company at a 66 percent increase for the day.

Both Playboy and Iconix have refused to talk to reporters about the upcoming sale, since the negotiations have not been finalized.

Related: Blood Surges Back to Playgirl With Johnston Shoot: Former Editor Dishes On Pub’s Future

Lunch: Charlie Rose, Fern Mallis & Tina Brown

homepage_graphic04_large.jpg

— DIANE CLEHANE

Forget about the summer doldrums: Even though the sun’s not shining today, Michael’s was hot, hot, hot and so jam-packed I could barely get a bite in edgewise as I tried to keep up with the air-kissing action in the dining room. Despite the dreadful weather (and its dampening effect on rental prices in the Hamptons — we can’t relate but maybe we can score a bargain for August), the usual suspects were on the scene and downright chipper to mix and mingle with fellow media mavens.

I was thrilled to be lunching with my good pals Lisa Silhanek (who knows everyone) and IMG’s Fern Mallis who, when she’s not running New York Fashion Week, moonlights as a guest judge on Bravo’s The Fashion Show with Isaac Mizrahi. We were joined by two charming and enterprising entrepreneurs, Fermin Perez and Carlos Lorenzo of Global Events, a worldwide event production company. The guys are producing the Spanish Mile in SoHo tomorrow night, where 1500 fashionistas are expected to tour all the Spanish-themed and owned businesses in the neighborhood. Fern is acting as ‘ambassador’ for the evening’s festivities. Where does she find the time?

I just had to ask Fern how her fledgling career as a reality show star was going. “It’s been great,” she says. Incidentally, Fern wears her own clothes on the show (seems she’s been getting emails from fans inquiring about her wardrobe). On Friday, Fern and the gang will be shooting the second to last episode at Cipriani downtown, where six finalists will stage a runway show before a full house (word is those plucky Housewives from New Jersey and New York will be there). Then, America will have 24 hours to vote on a winner, who’ll be announced on the season finale next month. Stay tuned!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Charlie Rose and pals

2. Jim Wiatt

3. Town & Country’s Pamela Fiori with a striking silver-haired gal and a gent who looked so familiar, but we just couldn’t place him…

4. Cosmo editrix Kate White (Long time no see!) with Linda Fairstein, who arrived sporting ‘Cy Vance for DA’ buttons on both lapels of her jacket. Linda (who hates Kindle, by the way — “I’m an old fashioned book person”) tells all about what it takes to churn out a book a year (she’s written 11!) and how the Internet is marketing Mecca for aspiring writers everywhere in the latest installment of mediabistro.com’s So What Do You Do? series.

Read more

Scott Flanders Possible New CEO Of Playboy

lilyplay.jpg
According to the Wall Street Journal, Playboy Enterprises is going to offer the job of CEO to Scott Flanders, president and CEO of Irvine-based Freedom Communications Inc. WSJ cautioned that contracts had not been signed and the deal could still fall apart, but, “after a couple of recent visits to the Playboy Mansion, Mr. Flanders has emerged as the clear favorite”. The CEO post has been vacant since Christie Hefner stepped down late last year.

Freedom Communications owns several television stations and newspapers in the United States, including the Orange County Register.

Playboy Looking For A Buyer?

playboy.pngWould Hugh Hefner ever sell his bunny-eared empire? Maybe.

The New York Post‘s Keith Kelly hears that Playboy Enterprises is looking for a buyer willing to shell out $300 million for the public company.

However, big name buyers like Apollo Capital Partners and Providence Equity Partners haven’t made moves to pick up Playboy Enterprises, most likely because the company’s market capitalization is only around $100 million but they are seeking three times that in order to entice Hef to sell, Kelly said. Not surprisingly, it takes a lot of money to keep the mansion running.

Playboy has been struggling in recent months. In October, the company cut 80 jobs, and then CEO Christie Hefner departed in December. Earlier this year, Playboy moved to Chicago, but that has not quieted rumors about the magazine’s future.

Earlier this month, the company announced more bad news, reporting that print and digital revenues were down 26 percent.

If Playboy Enterprises can’t find any other way to turn their business around, a sale might be just what they need to keep the dream of the Playboy lifestyle alive. But if he can’t find someone to purchase the company, Hef might have to come up with a new “Girls Next Door” just to pay the bills.

Earlier: Is Playboy Screwed?

Lunch: Dishing With The Usual Suspects

homepage_graphic04_large.jpg

— DIANE CLEHANE

The regulars were out in force today at Michael’s as media mavens, moguls and social types were deep in conversation around the jam-packed dining room. Everyone, it seems, had plenty to talk about, including the terrible news of Natasha Richardson‘s skiing accident. “I can’t believe it,” one diner told me. “It was sickening to see the coverage last night — especially the premature reports of her death.” The consensus at Michael’s was that there was a lot of irresponsible reporting that seemed more interested in being first than being right. Today, thank goodness, the reports seem more measured and everyone is awaiting an official word from the family. I had the opportunity to meet the talented Ms. Richardson at Michael’s on several occasions last year and she was always utterly gracious and lovely. My thoughts go out to her and her family.

Today I was lunching with Lisa Linden of Linden, Alschuler & Kaplan, Inc. public relations. A tireless gal who is as nice as she is busy. Lisa — who started the firm with Steve Alschuler 16 years ago (Lloyd Kaplan joined three years later)– reports that despite the gloomy economic climate, business is on solid ground. It’s no wonder. The principals bring a wealth of experience to their clients, having toiled in a host of positions including stints in city and state government (Lisa and Steve both served at various times as press secretary to Senator Roy Goodman and later worked together at Rubenstein; Lloyd was chief of staff at City Hall during the financial crisis in the early 70s). Lisa was also a consultant to the Clinton/Gore ’96 campaign. These days, the firm counts top tier real estate companies like Brookfield and The Plaza as clients, as well as an impressive list of “major” law firms, fashion brands (Sigrid Olsen) and nonprofits including City Meals on Wheels and The Broadway League.

During these perilous economic times, one of the things that keeps Lisa and her staff so busy is crisis management: “We’re living in unprecedented times,” Lisa told me. “There is no industry that has not been hit with a crisis.” And, counsels this public relations powerhouse, even those companies that are not dealing with disaster per se should think twice about scaling back their public relations efforts. “This is not the time to pull back,” she says. “While it is a time of crisis, it is also a time of tremendous opportunity to move messages. The media is happy to report positive stories and people are happy to read them. There is so much negativity. Companies should look for what is good and get the word out because that resonates now more than ever.” Amen to that!

And, one more thing, Lisa was thrilled to break the news to me exclusively that Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former governor George Pataki and New York State’s new Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will be the speakers at this year’s fundraising gala for The New York League of Conservation Voters (she’s co-chair of the board) scheduled for May 28 at Chelsea Piers.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Somers Farkas, Francine LeFrak and two other well-heeled gals

2. Mike Medavoy and a dark-haired gent we didn’t recognize

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Jon Burnham. Joe told me he’s off to Texas to visit mom. Thanks, Joe, for telling me about the terrific mention in Liz Smith‘s column last week on wowOwow.com about our weekly ‘Lunch’ assignations. Have a safe trip to Texas and see you in two weeks.

4. Martin Dunn and Steven Rubenstein.

Read more

What Surprised Michael Wolff Most About Rupert Murdoch May Also Surprise You!

100_3532.jpgThe party for Michael Wolff‘s much ballyhooed official Rupert Murdoch biography The Man Who Owns the News was held last night at the stunning penthouse of Milk Studios on the West Side and, not surprisingly, attracted a whole slew of media big wigs (every style of horn-rimmed glasses appeared to be present — said one party-goer on knowing the room was packed with famous names but not recognizing the faces: “I wish there was an iPhone app for that.”). Sadly Rupe himself was noticeably absent. Turns out the last-minute party date switcheroo from Monday night to Tuesday was just…a mistake, and not actually a scheduling conflict with Wendi Murdoch’s 40th birthday party.

100_3535.jpgWe eventually caught up with Wolff — the man knows how to work a room! — and asked him what, in the course of writing the book, had most surprised him about Rupert Murdoch?

That he takes an enema before a long-haul flight.

There you have it! To file in your TMI folder. We also managed to chat with Christie Hefner for a few minutes (full disclosure: we have written for Playboy) about her decision to step down as CEO from Playboy Enterprises.(Above: Michael Wolff; Right: Dan Abrams and David Zinczenko)

Read more

Lunch: Jane Fonda & Jerry Seinfeld — That’s Entertainment!

homepage_graphic04_large.jpg

— DIANE CLEHANE

It’s always those random celebrity sightings at Michael’s that make my weekly Wednesday visits much more fun. Today certainly didn’t disappoint. When a little birdie told me Jerry Seinfeld would be holding court on table one today, I knew I was in for it. When he strolled in sporting a baseball cap and jeans, it seemed he was trying to keep a low profile, but as soon as he opened his mouth, every head in the vicinity swiveled in his direction. He pretended not to notice and took a quick look around the dining room before settling in at table one with Trident Media’s Dan Strone. I’m thinking Jerry’s got another book in the offing. If not, he might have gotten an idea for one by the time lunch was over — every time I glanced his way, I got the distinct impression he was gathering material. He looked more than a little amused at the scene as the rest of the crowd strained to check him out on the sly. Across the room, Jane Fonda (who made her second appearance of the week) also opted for a low profile, hiding behind her shades for much of her lunch with Pat Mitchell — then the gals ducked out early. But not before my pal Beverly Camhe got a chance to chat with Jane about a possible appearance at the Center for Peace in Berlin. Then, the tireless Bev joined me at the bar and gave me the scoop on the hit of the Hamptons Film Festival (she’s on the advisory board) — the new documentary from two Australian filmmakers on Dominick Dunne. Bev reports that Dominick flew in just for the premiere and was “very moved” by the film. “He was thrilled,” says Bev. “He was nervous beforehand because it was an act of faith since he didn’t know these guys. It turned out great and everyone loved it.” We’re thrilled for Nick. Congrats!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Jerry Seinfeld and Trident Media’s Dan Strone

2. Peter Brown, Frank Bowling and pals

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Sotheby’s Jamie Niven

4. Arnold Scaasi (who felt compelled to prune the bountiful fall arrangement behind his table before sitting down), Parker Ladd and a gal named Judy, so we’re told …

Read more