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Posts Tagged ‘Diane Sokolow’

Tales From a True Downton Abbey Thoroughbred

LunchAtMichaelsAfter being felled by a brutal bug (which I picked up in my doctor’s office while waiting for my flu shot) last week, I was glad to be back at 55th and Fifth today where I embarked on the second leg of my own personal trifecta of reporting on every aspect of my television obsession, Downton Abbey. I interviewed cast member Lesley Nichol two weeks ago and am planning a very special Downton lunch for December (No spoilers here! It’s top secret for now). Today I was thrilled to dine and dish with Harry Herbert, the second son of the 7th Earl of Carnarvon, who was in town on a whirlwind three-day visit to New York to meet a few Upper East Side swells and talk to them about his glamorous and highly successful racehorse syndication business, Highclere Thoroughbred Racing. As the company’s founder, Henry puts together racing syndicates — small groups of people with deep pockets — to share in owning a racehorse. So what’s Harry’s Downton Abbey connection, you ask? Harry’s ancestral home is none other than Highclere Castle, the stunning setting — and very much its own character — on Downton Abbey. I kid you not.

Alistair Morrison, Diane Clehane and Harry Herbert

Alistair Morrison, Diane Clehane and Harry Herbert

If you’re like me and have watched the specials that have aired on Highclere on PBS and HG-TV, you’ve seen Harry’s sister-in-law Fiona, the 8th Countess of Carnarvon, who is married to his brother George, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon, giving behind-the-scenes tours of the great house and talking about what it’s like to have your home taken over by the cast of one of Britain’s most popular television programs. (They actually live in another home on the sprawling estate) Harry painted a fascinating picture for me of the real life cast of characters who have populated Highclere, worthy of their own PBS series. It turns out his parents’ love story mirror the one which plays out on Downton between the elder Grantham’s British-American union. Harry’s mother, Jeannie, was 19 years old when he journeyed from her home in Wyoming to England to visit friends and met his father, Henry. When she went back to the states, says Harry, ”He chased her to Wyoming and wound up marrying her.” Read more

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Star Jones, Charlie Rose and Manhattan’s Most Discreet Fine Jeweler

1003_mockup.gifThe line to get into Michael’s snaked onto the sidewalk today as the fall power lunch season finally got under way. There were talking heads (Star Jones, Charlie Rose) and media types (David Zinczenko, Jack Kliger) and the usual well-heeled crowd who just couldn’t wait to get down to business.

I was joined today by the dashing and delightful Edward Landrigan and Nicholas Landrigan, the father and son team at the helm of Verdura, the venerable jewelry house favored by style icons like Greta Garbo, the Duchess of Windsor and Marlene Dietrich and loved by contemporary stylistas like Sofia Coppola. Verdura’s signature bejewelled cuffs, which I’ve coveted forever, are truly one of the most sought after (and copied) pieces of jewelry ever designed.

 CEO “Ward” bought the company in 1985 and “Nico,” its president, has worked at the company since 2009. It was clear talking to these gents that the passion for fine jewelry runs in the family. Ward got the bug working at a jewelry store as a teenager, which set him on an unexpected career path for a fellow with a “blue collar New Jersey” upbringing. (“When I told my father I was going into the jewelry business, he asked me, “How are you going to make a living?’) His decades-long career included his tenure as head of the jewelry divison for Sothebys USA which brought him into the orbit of legendary jewelry lovers like Elizabeth Taylor. “Jewelry is the last talisman in today’s society,” Ward explains. “When a woman puts on a favorite piece of jewelry, whether its costume or the real thing, and her face lights up, it’s magic. There’s something very special about that, and it’s something I have always enjoyed about the business. I have a passion for it.”

Ward Landrigan, Diane Clehane and Nicholas Landrigan

Ward Landrigan, Diane Clehane and Nicholas Landrigan

‘Nico’ went to Brown and considered a career in the law while working in the Fraud Bureau of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office before joining forces with his father. “I wanted to make sure I really wanted a career in law before I actually committed to it,” recalls Nico. In the end, his path seemed all but predestined. ”From the time I was six until I was eleven, I thought what my father did was the coolest job in the world,” Nico told me. Says Ward: “On a trip to India when he spelled his name out in sapphires, I knew that was it.”

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Charlie Rose, Bonnie Fuller And The Ex-Mr. Star Jones

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We’re a bit spoiled by the back-to-back A-list sightings of the last two weeks (Cate Blanchett! Blake Lively!), so today we had to content ourselves with wondering what the media mavens we haven’t seen in the dining room in ages (Bonnie Fuller) were up to over their Cobb Salads.

Well, at least things were pretty lively at my table. I was joined by Dr. Phillip Romero who I was introduced to in this very dining room by our mutual friend, Cablevision’s Barry Frey. I couldn’t wait to get the good doctor’s take on Charlie Sheen and the ongoing media freak show that shows no sign of slowing down. Phil told me he agreed with Celebrity Rehab’s Dr. Drew Pinsky‘s diagnosis that Sheen is bipolar. Based on his exhibiting symptoms of “hypomania, grandiosity and hyper sexualization,” says Phil, “That’s clearly what’s going on.”

Phil, who has been counseling individuals and families in crisis for over 25 years and recently published two books, The Art Imperative and Phantom Stress , is “disgusted” by the media’s apparent glee at milking their latest cash cow until it dries up — or dies. ”I am appalled at the media’s vampirizing of mental illness.” One of the worst offenders thus far, says Phil, has been Piers Morgan who, he observes, was encouraging Sheen’s inexplicable behavior during the fallen star’s appearance on the CNN show. “Morgan was clearly enabling Charlie Sheen during his interview and seemingly happy to do so. It made me very uncomfortable. Where are the people that could help this man? If Charlie keeps up at this pace without the help he needs he could become psychotic and harm himself or others.”  Another ratings bonanza in the making.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Most of the Imber Gang, including Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Jeff Greenfield.

2. Abernathy & MacGregor’s Jim Abernathy

3. Producer Francine LeFrak and two well-heeled gal pals.

4. Charlie Rose and a limping Tom Freston.
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Lunch: Christiane Amanpour Draws an A-List Crowd

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— DIANE CLEHANE

On the menu at Michael’s today: a tasty stew of media mavens and moguls with a heaping helping of famous faces on the side. We could barely keep up with the goings-on in the dining room, since every other minute there was some boldface name heading to the Garden Room for CNN’s lunch to celebrate Christiane Amanpour‘s new show. We spied Gayle King, Cynthia McFadden, Joni Evans, Gloria Steinem, and Harry Evans among the scribes invited to cover the soiree. (Nice to see you, Steve Krakauer!) Our own TVNewser Kevin Allocca editor was there, too.

I was lunching today with Carrie Kania, senior vice president and publisher of It Books and Harper Perennial. It Books, HarperCollins’ hip new imprint, is tapping into the zeitgeist with a fall list brimming with of-the-moment tomes including Twitter Wit (Who knew so many people could write such witty Tweets?) and the just released I Love Your Style by the uber stylish Amanda Brooks. “I love the book because it shows how fashion evolves,” Carrie told me. I Love Your Style is full of fabulous images of timeless style icons like Jackie Kennedy, Ali McGraw and Charlotte Rampling as well as today’s trendsetters like Natalie Portman. It’s also got plenty of great ideas and tips on how to identify and develop a style that’s truly one’s own. Carrie is just as passionate about the classics on Harper Perennial’s backlist. “So many 13 and 14 year-old girls have not read The Bell Jar; I want to help them find it.” Seems like Carrie is on a mission to get everyone she can excited about publishing: she’s also teaching the New York University graduate course ‘Introduction to Publishing.’ Says Carrie of her gig that spends eights weeks focused on books and another eight on magazines: “I take the students through every step from acquisition to marketing. The mentoring I got early on was invaluable to me, and I want to help people like that. There is no better business to be in.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. My good friend, public relations maven Lisa Linden (Happy Belated Birthday!) and her partner, Steven Alschuler — their firm, Linden, Alschuler & Kaplan works with plenty of Gotham’s movers and shakers in real estate, government and philanthropy, in case you didn’t know — with former senator Nick Spano and his colleague from Empire Strategic Planning, Perry Ochacher.

2. Most of the ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Andy Bergman. Where were Jeff Greenfield and Michael Kramer?

3. Diane Sokolow and a formidable-looking fellow we didn’t recognize

4. Producer Bill Haber and television legend Norman Lear

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Lunch: The Lo-Cal Edition with Ron Perelman

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Now that summer is in full swing, the usual mix of movers and shakers at Michael’s was a bit on the light side today. But Ron Perelman was there, proving this is no time to slack off if you’re a true mogul. Frank Gifford and Charlie Rose were in the dining room yesterday. And, we hear, our pal Jack Kliger stopped by to open up a bottle of 1969 Pommard Rugiens (‘a rich red Burgundy’ says wine director Seth Liebman) and celebrate, no doubt, his new gig as acting CEO of TV Guide. Congrats!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Bob Barnett

2. Peter Brown, fresh off his trip to Vietnam — “The food was excellent!”

3. Marie-Josée Kravis with another well-heeled gal. We were coveting that gorgeous pearl pin Marie was wearing. Fab!

4. Ron Perelman and a formidable-looking fellow we didn’t know. We knew Ron was inside when we arrived because we recognized the tough guy in the Escalade parked at the curb that goes everywhere Ron does…

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Lunch: Barry Diller (on a Vespa!), Harvey Weinstein & Judge Judy

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Maybe it was because it finally stopped raining for five minutes, but the power-lunchers were out in force today at Michael’s. There was a crowd gathering in the lounge before noon waiting for tables. Of course, most of the regulars breezed in at their appointed hours, making sure they had plenty of time for glad-handing before settling in for some serious dish. Harvey Weinstein and Barry Diller did their fair share of hand shaking before getting down to business at separate tables.

I was lunching today with public relations powerhouse Lisa Linden and Tom O’Brien, president and general manager of WNBC. Tom had plenty to talk about, since these days it seems you can’t go anywhere without an NBC star beaming out from a TV set in a growing number of spots. Look for that to continue, says Tom. With the newscasts on WNBC-TV, the fledgling lifestyle channel New York Nonstop (now in 5 million homes), NBCNewYork.com and Taxi TV (in 5,500 cabs and growing), “We have the ability to get our content out across multiple platforms and reach people at any time of the day,” says Tom. Now the network has gone underground with their latest digital out-of-home effort, NBC in Transit, with video of news and NBC Universal entertainment programming broadcast on PATH trains between NYC and New Jersey. “We’re excited about this new way to reach an audience who isn’t waiting for news. It’s another great way for keeping people informed.” Coming soon: more televisions on the platform in Newark. Stay tuned…

I told Tom I have a particular soft spot for those adorable spots with Jimmy Fallon and that cuddly bear cub that seem to be playing in every taxi I’m in. “He’s doing very well,” reports Tom, who says Conan O’Brien‘s new show is set to debut June 1 and there will be an announcement about Jay Leno‘s new primetime show in two weeks. We’re all ears…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman

2. My new pal Susan Silver, Abby Ellin of The New York Times and Judy Twersky

3. Andrew Stein and a mystery gent…

4. Barry Diller and an unidentified young fellow. Here’s a fun fact: Barry is a mogul on the move. I happened to catch him suiting up for a quick getaway after lunch as he slipped into a windbreaker and donned a helmet and sunglasses before revving up his Vespa and disappearing into midtown traffic.

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Lunch: Bill Bradley, Norman Pearlstine & The Media Mavens

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It’s a lo-cal edition of lunch today. We’re chalking it up to near Spring-like weather (I don’t know about you, but I’m burning my winter coat when we finally have two days over 60) and plenty of recent rumblings about companies tightening the reins on expense accounts. What’s a media maven to do? You’ve still gotta eat. And if there’s business to be done — or you’re looking for your next big thing — Michael’s is still the place to be to connect with the power brokers that aren’t chained to their desks. Today, besides the regulars, the crowd was sprinkled with a liberal (no pun intended) dose of media mavens and business types with a former senator (Bill Bradley) thrown in for good measure. The mood in the dining room was a bit low-key, but I’m guessing there was still plenty of deals being struck over those burgers.

I was lunching today with my pal Brian Balthazar, HGTV’s director of programming. Brian and I met at Michael’s when he was working as supervising producer of Today‘s fourth hour with those chatty gals Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. Now that Brian is getting up at a far more civilized hour, he’s got time for things besides television, including doing stand-up (His next gig is on April 15 at Comix). His new-ish job at HGTV is keeping him plenty busy, though, overseeing 18 shows with some great new projects in the works, including programming that will offer viewers an up close and personal look at celebrity homes. Brian also tells me he’s retooling the network’s popular House Hunters series to inject a bit “more reality” into the show and reflect more of what buyers are going through during these recessionary times. Still, though, there’s plenty of escapism (Thank God!) on offer. “During tough times, people really like to see beautiful homes and be inspired. There’s a voyeuristic quality to real estate that people love.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Laurie Tisch and a table full of pals

2. Peter Brown

3. Kerry Kennedy and James Wolfensohn, former head of The World Bank. Second seating: producers Jon Hart and Fred Zollo

4. Steve Rubenstein and Norman Pearlstine

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Lunch: Charlie Rose, Joe Scarborough, and the Summer Die-Hards

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— DIANE CLEHANE

With the dog days of summer upon us, the usual suspects at Michael’s are soldiering on over their Cobb salads until it’s time to take off those last few weeks of the month to the Hamptons, Nantucket or some other sun-filled spot far from the madding crowd. In the meantime, the random celebrity sighting is keeping things interesting. Word of illusionist JB Benn‘s sleight of hand tricks that kept the crowd bedazzled last week must have gotten around the magician’s union because my spies told me that David Blaine walked in without a reservation yesterday and was bending quarters for everybody’s amusement. Just thought you’d like to know.

I was lunching today with publishing powerhouse turned Internet entrepreneur Joni Evans, whose five-month old site Wowowow.com is going great guns. Joni, who is wow’s CEO, launched the site with pals Liz Smith, Peggy Noonan, Mary Wells and Lesley Stahl for “self-assured women who are a bit too old to care what everybody thinks.” This month, Joni kicked off “The Book Party” with Judith Martin (Miss Manners) reading a collection of the classics. “It’s been incredibly well-received,” she says, and plans are in the works to expand the vertical in all sorts of interesting ways. And that’s not all — Joni tells me in the not-so-distant future the site will introduce a new fashion maven into the mix to cover style and a health vertical ‘Medicine Ball.’ The site’s content is popping up on MSN.com, Fox.com and Yahoo’s Shine. For more dish about Joni and her newfound career, check out her interview with me for our “So What Do You Do?” series coming next month …

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Charlie Rose and an unidentifed young blonde gal

2. Peter Brown

3. Jonathan Tisch and John Sykes

4. Michael Fuchs and Peggy Siegal

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