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Posts Tagged ‘Diane Dimond’

Roger Friedman Calls Out Tina Brown, Diane Dimond

For the briefest time Sunday morning, some alleged “news” published by UK’s Sunday Mirror newspaper about the late Michael Jackson was above The Drudge Report fold. But the multiple featured links quickly disappeared from Drudge, perhaps because the site’s Showbiz 411 pal Roger Friedman may have alerted that there was no substance to the sensational allegations.

This afternoon, Friedman is zeroing in on The Daily Beast article “The Story Behind The Latest Michael Jackson Bombshell:”

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Shirley MacLaine Stops by a Birthday Party for Liz Smith

1003_mockup.gifI knew it was going to be quite the scene at Michael’s today when a little birdie told me that there was going to be a lunch for Liz Smith celebrating the grand dame of gossip’s upcoming birthday at Table One. Suffice to say I wasn’t disappointed. None other than Shirley MacLaine stopped by to say hello to Liz (more on why later), and I got to chat with the legendary actress about her guest-starring stint on Downton Abbey. While the entire restaurant swiveled in our general direction, I jumped up from my seat to ask about her experience on PBS’ smash hit and she couldn’t have been more gracious.

“I loved doing the show,” she told me. “Everyone was so welcoming and great about everything. I was amazed that no matter what the weather — because it rained a lot when we were shooting — they all went on as if the sun was shining. They were wonderfully professional.” Her character, Martha Levinson, appeared in only two episodes but left quite an impact on viewers — particularly when Martha sparred with Violet, the Dowager Countess played by the legendary Maggie Smith. “That was one of my favorite days on the set,” Ms. MacLaine told me of the scene where she and Ms. Smith sat for hours in a church pew waiting for the ill-fated wedding of Lady Edith to begin. “We spent eight hours talking about life, and we never ran out of things to say.” I bet. Before she dashed out the door — she only stayed long enough to say her hellos — I asked whether she’d be returning to the series and she said, “Yes. We start shooting soon. I’m looking forward to it.” So are we.

Liz Smith with her party pals and her armadillo cake

Now, back to Liz’s lunch (described as a “southern confab”), which Hearst’s Deb Shriver put together with scribe Julia Reed and ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong. Deb was putting the finishing touches on the table, which included a bouquet of yellow roses arranged in Joe’s Texas bronzed boot and a specially designed menu (fried chicken, collard greens and corn bread) featuring a photo of Liz at a year old. Liz and Joe have a long friendship that dates back to 1968 when Joe first arrived in New York and met the fellow Texan. They forged an unbreakable bond. “I didn’t know one person when I came here and found out she was raised a block from where my mama grew up in Fort Worth. She was the only person I met who I thought didn’t talk with an accent.” The two have been great pals ever since.

Shirley MacLaine stops by Michael’s

Southern belle Deb, who has written two fabulous books on New Orleans including the gorgeous Stealing Magnolias: Tales from a New Orleans Courtyard, surprised Liz with one of the most unusual birthday cakes ever served at Michael’s or anywhere else for that matter, and had a Brooklyn baker recreate the Steel Magnolias armadillo red velvet cake. Ms. MacLaine, as you might recall, was one of the stars of the 1989 film, and she arrived with the film’s screenwriter Robert Harling to jazz up the festivities. They departed before Michael’s staff paraded through the dining room with the life-size armadillo on a platter, raising  more than a few eyebrows. Clearly thrilled by the gesture, Liz was served the head of the baked beast while the rest of the guests dug into the ‘carcass.’ Mmm… yummy.

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Barbara Walters, Joe Kernen and One Republican’s Response to the Debate

1003_mockup.gifAfter last week’s head-spinning scene where real-life democrats took campaign advice from fictional politicians (Chris Noth, you’ve got my vote), I thought I’d pretty much covered the landscape of presidential politics among the Wednesday Michael’s crowd. Nothing doing. Before I could settle in for my lunch with PR maven Leslie Stevens and cosmetics entrepreneur Patti Pao, CNBC’s Joe Kernen called me over to meet Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin who was on the air with Joe earlier today deconstructing last night’s debates (We suggest a whip and a chair for the moderator of next week’s match-up) and is scheduled to appear on Sean Hannity‘s broadcast on Fox this evening.

The guys told me they were looking for “equal time,” since last week’s column was all about the democratic point of view. I’m always happy to chat with Joe whose fabulously smart 12-year-old daughter, Blake Kernen is one of my favorite young writers.  Not surprisingly, Senator Johnson told me he thought Mitt Romney won the debate hands down. “He shattered the caricature (the Obama campaign) has been pushing. It’s hard to paint that picture when (Romney) came out so strong and showed such a command of the issues. He  offered the specifics that Obama did not. Last night did nothing to stop the momentum (Romney) has been gathering.” He also called out the president for being “purposely misleading” on Libya.  While the senator admitted the president was “a little more energetic” he concluded, “He’s got nothing.”

Senator Johnson, who predicts it’s going to be a ”close election,” says Vice President Joe Biden‘s “rude” performance during his debate with Representative Paul Ryan had a lingering negative effect on the president’s favorable ratings and pointed to CNN’s recent poll which showed most viewers gave last night’s segment on the economy to Romney as an indication that the republican challenger is winning on the issue voters care most about. “In both debates, Romney showed that he can work with the other side. Americans have to ask themselves, ‘Do we want four more years of gridlock and a president who doesn’t know how to lead?”

Leslie Stevens, David Patrick Columbia, Patti Pao and Diane Clehane

Things lightened up considerably when I joined Leslie and Patti at our table to talk about the launch of Patti’s new skincare line Restorsea, which debuted at Bergdorf Goodman on Monday. Smart, savvy and absolutely passionate about skincare, Patti has built an impressive track record in the beauty business with stints at Avon and Elizabeth Arden. The Harvard Business School graduate introduced glycolic acid to the beauty industry and made Avon’s Anew the industry standard that is today.

She has continued to search out the latest innovations for the luxury market in her own consulting firm Pao Principle which she launched in 2005. Utilizing her deep ties to China, Patti created a survey asking 353 billionaires in the country (yes, you read that right) questions relating to handbags and fine jewelry. Doing so created a much sought after database when the survey findings made The New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, Forbes and Fortune. That stroke of marketing genius branded her LVMH’s luxury expert, and she picked up three clients in Norway which turned out to be a fateful turn of events.

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Back to Business With Norma Kamali, Jeanine Pirro and William Lauder

1003_mockup.gifSpring break is over, so it’s back to business for the movers and shakers at Michael’s. Today’s crowd was the usual mix of media mavens (Keith Kelly, Jonathan Wald), stylistas (Norma Kamali, John Galantic) and money men (William Lauder), with plenty of strivers and a slew of pretty young things thrown in for good measure.

I was joined today by Kelly Langberg, who I met at Michael’s last month when she was celebrating her birthday at Table One with her nearest and dearest. When I got a gander of the fabulous jewelry she was wearing, I just had to go over to get a closer look. It turned out that Kelly had designed the pieces herself and had a thriving  business selling the beautiful bling to her well-heeled clients. At today’s lunch, Kelly explained how her jewelry inadvertently served as a launch pad for her now four-year-old business as the makeover maven to Manhattan’s chic set.

Having had a successful career pre-motherhood in investment banking and commercial real estate, Kelly was looking for something new that would allow her to have more time to spend with her children when they were little. Some years ago while on vacation at a swanky resort,  not one, but two different women who she’d run into over the course of her stay and admired her personal style asked her if she’d accompany them (separately) to the hotel’s pricey jewelry boutique to pick out something fabulous. “It was so random,” Kelly recalled, “but I did it for fun and wound up having things made for them at a fraction of the price. I thought to myself, ‘I think I found a business.’”

Diane Clehane, Michael McCarty and Kelly Langberg
Diane Clehane, Michael McCarty and Kelly Langberg

In no time at all, Kelly found herself advising her jewelry clients on everything from their hairstyles and makeup to plastic surgery options. “I’d show up at apartments to talk about jewelry and a client would say, ‘What do you think about my neck? What should I do with my hair?” said Kelly.  ”In 20 years in business, people have shown me just about everything you could imagine. I’ve seen it all.”

The enterprising Kelly decided to turn her exhaustive knowledge of the beauty business (“The best doctors, stylists, makeup artists — I know them all”) into a bonafide business. Today, she works individually with every client, listening carefully to their desires and needs (“A lot of this is therapy”) and even accompanies them to doctor’s offices and salons to ask the tough questions or just give her honest opinion on what works and what doesn’t.

While Kelly advises the creme de la creme of Manhattan on the very best places to go for those big ticket items like plastic surgery (she’d just come from a surgeon’s office with a client) and cosmetic dentistry, she is completely obsessed with helping clients find the perfect hairstyle. ”It all starts with the hair,” Kelly says. “You could have a great smile, terrific posture and a great wardrobe. If your hair is wrong, it’s all wrong.” As if on cue, proprietor Michael McCarty came by (he and Kelly go way back) to say hello, and we complimented him on his new, shorter locks which we decided made him look downright boyish. He told us his wife Kim McCarty had suggested he try her stylist who recently relocated from London to Malibu, where the couple lives. “I have a great person for you here in town, because you need one when you’re here,” Kelly told him. “I’m taking you over there. Let me know when you want to go.” And that was that.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

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Dan Rather, Steve Kroft and An Encore Appearance by John Legend

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I got several emails last week when I was on vacation alerting me to John Legend‘s presence in the dining room. “You’re missing him!” texted one faithful “Lunch” reader. “Oh well,” I thought, “next time.” Imagine my surprise when the singer magically appeared in the dining room today and even shot me a big smile on the way to his corner table. How thoughtful of him to schedule a return engagement on a Wednesday!

I was joined today by uber publicist Judy Twersky and her agency’s account supervisor, Jennifer Bristol, who I met in this very dining room through our mutual friend, Diane Dimond. A little birdie told me that Judy knows just about everybody and has represented a very interesting mix of famous folks so I knew lunch would be fun. I wasn’t disappointed.

Judy, who once toiled as media director for Ogilvy & Mather, started her own firm in 1992 and has had an impressive roster of clients, including Maury Povich, Dr. Andrew Weil and none other than actor James Earl Jones. (No word on how he felt being banished to the bleachers at the Oscars while Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy took to the stage). Judy, who tells me she gets most of her clients through word of mouth, specializes in authors but also handles her fair share of celebrities. Her current client list includes former CIA agent-turned-photographer Hank O’Neal, who has traveled the world chronicling street art. His new book, aptly titled XCIA’s Street Art Project (Siman Media Works), will debut in March along with a mobile app. None other than Tony Bennett praises Hank’s work as “one of the greatest contemporary works of art I have ever experienced.”

Jennifer Bristol, Diane Clehane, Judy Twersky
Jennifer Bristol, Diane Clehane and Judy Twersky

Judy also reps pianist Richard Glazier, whose PBS special, “From Ragtime to Reel Time: Richard Glazier in Concert” premieres on stations around the country next week. Judy first met Richard on a TCM cruise and was enthralled by his skills as a raconteur as he regaled the audience (who stayed up way past their bedtimes) with the stories behind the “Great American Songbook” and tales of his childhood friendship with Ira Gershwin. Richard is coming to New York next month to be feted by violinist Joshua Bell.

Speaking of great parties, Judy’s 60th birthday bash made “Page Six” recently with the news that Paul Shaffer wrote a song especially for her to mark the occasion. (Paul’s wife Cathy is Judy’s best friend, and Judy is now managing the couple’s 19-year-old daughter Victoria Shaffer who has aspirations to host her own talk show). Her good pals also arranged for The Naked Cowboy to come in and sweep her off her feet (literally). “You can book him for 15-minute sessions,” Judy told me with a laugh. “I couldn’t believe it.” Who needs birthday cake when you can be serenaded by a man in his underwear?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Dan Rather and another important looking gent we didn’t recognize

2. Peter Brown

3. 60 MinutesSteve Kroft and  journo Jackie Leo, engrossed in some important looking papers

4. John Legend (in jeans) and Warner Music Group CEO  Lyor Cohen

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Tom Brokaw, Vernon Jordan and the Shy Divorcee

1003_mockup.gifIt was SRO at Michael’s today. The dining room was so jam packed every sqaure inch was occupied by a mogul (Mel Karmazin!), media heavyweight (Tom Brokaw, Jon Meacham, Jeff Zucker), or social swan (divorcee of the moment, Mercedes Bass who moved to the Garden Room with pal Lynn Nesbitt when the decibel level and fabulousness of it all got to be too much).  Just a thought: if you’re looking for a quiet, out of the way lunch spot, you might want to consider going somewhere else on Wednesday.

I was joined today by Forbes‘ new editor, Randall Lane. In his new position, Randall is presiding over familiar territory to him: the lives of the ridiculously rich and ambitious. In a previous life, he was the editor of Trader Monthly which chronicled the age of excess of the Wall Streeter of days gone by.  That experience later provided plenty of fodder for his book, The Zeroes: My Misadventures in the Decade When Wall Street Went Insane. In the interim, he’s been an editor at large for Newsweek and written for The Daily Beast. Having worked with him years ago when he was the editor in chief on the startup Justice, which covered the hot trials and legal issues of the day, I was thrilled when I heard he’d gotten the top job at Forbes back in September.

Randall first worked at Forbes fresh out of college in the nineties and spent six years “chasing rich people” and working on the franchise’s venerated power lists which required (and still do) hundreds of hours of research and manpower. “In some ways, it feels like I never left,” he tells me.

Diane Clehane and Randall Lane
Randall Lane and yours truly

Since taking the helm, Randall has been on a mission to make the book more visually exciting with interesting photography (the arresting cover image of Bill Gates in the “World’s 70 Most Powerful People” issue is a winner), fresh design elements courtesy of the Brooklyn-based shop Athletics, a livelier front of book section and more in-depth profiles on people the Forbes reader wants to know about.  Exhibit A: The cover story in the November 7 issue on Dropbox’s Drew Houston, the 28 year-old mogul who turned down Steve Jobs and is now worth $600 million which drew one million hits on Forbes.com.

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Cosmo‘s Kate White Celebrates The Sixes

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You’d never know we’re on the brink of the dog days of August from the jam packed scene at Michael’s today. While I did notice there was a bit more wine than usual being poured, it was clear from all the glad handing and table hopping that there was plenty of business getting done between bites.

I was thrilled when Kate White invited me to join her for a celebratory lunch to mark the publication of her latest book, The Sixes (HarperCollins) that hit bookstores yesterday. Besides holding down her day job as Cosmo‘s editrix, Kate has managed to crank out five mysteries featuring heroine Bailey Weggins (a sixth is due next March), a handful of self-help tomes (including 9 Secrets of Women Who Get Everything They Want) and now, the second of two thrillers. Her latest novel chronicles what happens when celebrity biographer Phoebe Hall uncovers a secret society while tracking down a killer in a small college town and is already garnering rave reviews. Kate, who writes mostly on weekends, says she’s wanted to write page-turners ever since spotting a Nancy Drew mystery in her grandmother’s library at age 10. “I loved her,” she says of the iconic young detective. “I knew that whatever that was, I wanted to do that.”

Kate rounded up a pretty impressive group of gals to join in on the celebration. First to arrive was chick lit queen Jane Green who has written a dozen books (Babyville is my personal favorite) at the head spinning rate of one per year. I nearly fainted when Jane mentioned what a busy summer she’s having ferrying around her six children to their various activities. The former journalist for The Daily Express in Britain says it’s her training as a newspaper reporter facing deadlines that’s enabled her to find the discipline to write books. “Anybody can start a book; it’s another thing entirely to finish one.” Indeed.

Rounding out the group were best selling author Shelia Weller whose latest, Girls Like Us, is in development at Sony Pictures, ESPN SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm, actress Donna Hanover who most recently appeared as a real estate agent  in FX’s Louie, and Barbara Butcher, chief of staff and director of Forensic Science Training Program at the Office of The Chief Medical Examiner in Manhattan. While there was plenty of talk about books and writing, the group was completely transfixed by Barbara’s fascinating career as an investigator examining the dead at over 5,000 crime scenes . “I got a dissecting kit when I was 10 and my last name is ‘Butcher’ so this was kind of preordained,” Barbara quipped. Besides tackling the important tasks of identifying victims of 9/11 and the 2004 tsunami, Barbara has put her expertise to work consulting on shows like Law & Order and helping authors like Kate and Patricia Cornwall accurately depict their fictional crimes.  Spending a few hours with this crew has made me swear off procrastinating on that next book waiting to be written — or at least try to give up sleeping.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Kate White, Jane Green, Shelia Weller, Hannah Storm, Donna Hanover, Barbara Butcher and yours truly.

2.  My good pal, investigative journo Diane Dimond who tirelessly chronicled Casey Anthony’s trial for The Daily Beast with Judy Twersky (Nice to finally meet you!) and another gal pal I didn’t get to meet.

3. Terry Allen Kramer

4.  Christine Taylor with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn

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David Hockney, Lawrence O’Donnell And The Scandal-Scarred Manhattanite

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— DIANE CLEHANE

When I arrived at Michael’s today and found myself engulfed in a sea of suits, I chalked up the relatively quiet dining room to the usual January doldrums. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the reason things seemed a bit quieter than usual was that there were more than a few folks present who preferred to fly a bit under the radar considering what they might be talking about.  (Just a thought: This isn’t the place if you’re looking to have a low-profile lunch). An acquisitive media mogul dining with one of the city’s most respected media columnists?  A scandal plagued Manhattanite dishing with the Times’ financial columnist? The last thing on the minds of these guys was table hopping. I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned to see what they cooked up over lunch.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Artist David Hockney holding court with a table full of ‘suits’

2. Allyn Magrino and pals

3. Abernathy & MacGregor’s Jim Abernathy and some pretty preppy looking folks.

4. Uber literary agent Esther Newberg and a bookish bloke we didn’t recognize

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Desiree Rogers, Kathie Lee Gifford & The Millionaire Matchmaker Meltdown

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— DIANE CLEHANE

There were plenty of movers, shakers and deal makers at Michael’s today to keep things interesting, but a little birdie told me the media A-list was also out in force yesterday. So, as a public service to Lunch’s faithful readers, here’s who was there on Tuesday: Matt Lauer with Jack Welch, Page Six’s new editor Emily Smith and publicist Peggy Siegal presiding over one of her legendary lunches with Ed Zwick, Jean Doumanian, Meryl Poster, Jonathan Alter, Jodi Applegate and Lori Singer (Yes, the one from Footloose!).

With that bit of news out of the way, I can tell you that I was intrigued by all the networking I saw today. It was a little more overt than usual — and that’s saying something. However, some folks, like my Greenwich neighbor Kathie Lee Gifford (looking better than ever, by the way), just come to this quiet little spot to relax with friends. I asked Kathie what she thought of co-host Hoda Kotb‘s new book, Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair and Kathie Lee, and she told me, “I’m so happy for her! She has been working so hard. Tonight she finds out if she made it on to the Times‘ best seller list, and these days that takes a lot.” We wouldn’t bet against her.

But not all the action was happening in the dining room. We spotted Patti Stanger of Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker pacing outside of Michael’s front window, screaming into her cellphone, stomping her feet and dropping f-bombs like there was no tomorrow. I have no idea who was on the receiving end of the ear-splitting call, but I can tell you it wasn’t exactly a love connection.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Lord and Lady Rothschild in from across the pond. Tally ho!

2.  Joan Jakobson, Pamela Fiori and Thomas P. Farley, a young curly haired gent we initially didn’t recognize but now know as the host of the web TV show New York Insider. (Nice to meet you, Thomas!)

3. Kathie Lee Gifford, sipping a white wine spritzer with Patricia Kluge and two well-heeled gal pals.

4. Stephen Swid

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

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— 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 …

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