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Posts Tagged ‘Ellen Levine’

It’s An A-Lister Buffet! Cate Blanchett, Debra Messing, Star Jones and The Morning Joe Team

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It’s a sure sign that spring is actually on its way when the A-list comes out of hibernation and flocks to Michael’s once again. The appearance of Cate Blanchett and Debra Messing holding court at their respective tables had the whole place buzzing. Wendy Williams, seated in the middle of the action, could barely focus on her own table because she was so excited. We also have to imagine that the grub at the NBC cafeteria must be wanting these days, because there were so many of the network’s bold face names (Joe! Mika! David!) all around the room.

I was joined today by my good friend, Diana Biederman, managing director of Blackbird PR and Kristen Vigrass, president of The Brandman Agency. We were celebrating Kristen’s promotion to to president of the firm which was announced earlier this year. A public relations vet with a long history in the luxury market for companies including Calvin Klein, Kristen started at The Brandman Agency as a supervisor and worked her way up during her decade with the company. Bravo!

Kristen tells me she and founder Melanie Brandman are planning to celebrate a decade of working together with a possible  sojourn to Borneo. The exotic port of call will be on the intinerary later this year when the agency’s client Orion Expedition Cruises sets sail to the destination with a new ship. Kristen’s suitcase is always packed and ready to go somewhere. The Brandman Agency also represents Intercontinental Hotels Group and Orient-Express Hotels. When do we leave?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Debra Messing, looking every inch the star in a luxe white fur vest with her manager Molly Madden (the gals co-produced Messing’s now cancelled series The Starter Wife for USA Networks) and producer Desiree Gruber.

2. A Fox5 reunion: Rosanna Scotto, Penny Crone and Lynne White.

3. Sony Pictures Television head Steve Mosko with Tom Bernard and Michael Barker

4. Here’s an interesting trio: Uber celeb handler Cindi Berger, Hearst honcho Ellen Levine and Conde Nast front woman Maurie Perl

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Lunch: Soledad O’Brien Talks Helping Haiti’s Children

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The media mob was out in force today at Michael’s and we spotted plenty of table hopping between bites. It was fascinating to see all the head honchos make the rounds while checking in with the competition. Who needs to eat anyway?

I was joined today by CNN’s anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien, who I’ve known since her days as anchor of Weekend Today, and CNN publicist Van Scott. Since making the move to cable, Soledad, who left NBC in 2003 to anchor the network’s maiden season of American Morning, has gotten plenty of attention for her on-the-ground reporting of the tsunami in Southeast Asia and Hurricane Katrina. It was Soledad’s infamous interview with then FEMA chief Michael Brown that started the public outcry eventually leading to his resignation in September 2005.

After logging in plenty of air miles last year covering major news stories like the earthquake in Haiti, Soledad has unpacked her bags long enough to do a slew of documentaries that are kicking off next month. On May 8, CNN will premiere Rescued, an hour-long look at the plight of Haiti’s children told through the eyes of 6 year-old Cendy Jeune and former child slave Marc Kenson Oliphi. After being in Haiti immediately following the disaster, Soledad tells me she held orphans in her arms whose eyes had seen so much that “they looked old.” The documentary chronicles the lives of the children who are living in the Lighthouse orphanage where rather than being put up for adoption, they are instead taught skills, given an education, and encouraged to be valuable members of society when they “age out” of the orphanage at 18.

It was clearly a transformative experience for Soledad, herself a mother of four. She told me, “The best way to help Haiti is to help the children of Haiti help Haiti.” She’s planning on returning to the region next month with her 9 year-old daughter Sophia in tow. “My kids really want to do something to help. We’re going to ‘adopt a community’ and do what we can.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The lovely Pat Schoenfeld, in a chic red topper and matching loafers, with a few close pals.

2. Cablevision’s president Tad Smith

3. Sony Pictures’ Steve Mosko

4. Steve Rubenstein and William Lauder

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Lunch: Tom Brokaw, Charlie Rose, and John Sykes Stop By

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The mood may have been a little low-key today at Michael’s, but we spotted plenty of power players dining and dishing about their next big moves. I was intrigued to see former MTV colleagues John Sykes (now Playlist’s CEO) and Tom Freston chatting over lunch. Turns out the guys are both on (Product) Red’s board and are very enthusiastic about HBO’s upcoming documentary The Lazarus Effect which chronicles the effort being undertaken by the Global Fund to bring lifesaving drugs to Africans with AIDS.

“The title comes from the Bible and it’s truly amazing to see the results they have been getting,” John told me. The idea that marketing T-shirts and sunglasses can have a life-changing effect on dying patients with little hope of survival is truly news worth passing on. John also tells me that HBO is going to work with other companies like Playlist to make sure as many people as possible see the film.

I was joined today by Lisa Linden, CEO of Linden Alschuler & Kaplan Public Relations. Besides repping some of the biggest names in New York, Linda is a vice chair of The New York League of Conservation Voters and is working like mad on their upcoming spring gala. The big event is scheduled for May 17 and plenty of Gotham’s power players will be making an appearance. Mayor Michael Bloomberg will give the keynote, and this year’s honorees are: Julie Menin, chairman of Manhattan Community Board 1; Frank Sciame of F.J. Sciame Construction; eco-organizer Billy Parish, who co-founded Warner Music Group’s Green Owl Records, a green music label; and New York University. Comedian Mo Rocca is sure to keep things lively as the evening’s emcee. We’re calling for tickets now.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Charlie Rose (in pinstripes and white Jack Purcells) and an elegantly attired lady no one seemed to know.

2. Luke Janklow and another casually clad gent. Second seating: HBO’s Richard Plepler and pals

3. Men’s Health honcho David Zinczenko (long time, no see!) with attorney Larry Shire and Eric Saks

4. Tom Brokaw (who slipped in before anyone noticed) and Morris Offit

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min Honors Magazines, Editors At First Editorial & Design Awards

dining in america.jpgEven as the media industry is seeming falling apart all around us, the industry still insists on honoring its members. There’s no better time than the present to look on the bright side, we suppose.

This morning, min announced the winners of its first Editorial & Design Awards, awarding prizes in 27 different editorial and design categories. The award breakfast also celebrated the induction of several notable magazine industry movers and shakers into min’s Hall of Fame, including keynote speaker Jackie Leo, formerly of Reader’s Digest, Ladies’ Home Journal‘s Sally Lee, Ellen Levine of Hearst, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia chief creative officer Gael Towey and John Rasmus of National Geographic Adventure, as well as Vogue editrix Anna Wintour and former Variety editor Peter Bart.

Other top winners of the day included Food Network Magazine‘s win for Best Launch and Fortune, which nabbed the Best Feature award for its “Three Days that Shook the World” piece on the economic collapse of last fall. BusinessWeek won for Best Investigative & News Coverage for its cover story on subprime mortgages (and snagged a prize for best use of social media), while epicurean pub Saveur was honored for best design for a single issue for its Dining in America issue.

Entertainment Weekly, which recently cut staffers as part of Time Inc.‘s budget slashing, took home a number of awards including best photojournalism for its special Photo Issue, the best blog award for its PopWatch blog, best online column for Ken Tucker‘s “Watching TV” column and the top profile or Q&A prize for a feature story on Cheeta the chimp’s life after Hollywood. Self magazine, a Conde Nast title also recently plagued by staff cuts, took home two prizes.

See a full list of the winners here.

min Announces Editorial & Design Award Winners –min Online

Lunch: Andre Leon Talley Stops By — and Hugh Jackman is Coming Tonight!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Our invitation to tonight’s party for Joel Grey hosted by Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborah Lee Furness, must have gotten lost in the mail. Oh well. The dining room was jam-packed with the Wednesday regulars in action, so there was plenty to keep us entertained. I was also happy to catch up with some pals I hadn’t seen in a while. When my friend Andre Leon Talley swept through the door resplendent in a rose-hued Prada coat and “raspberry velvet” custom-made Manolo Blahnik sandals, I was thrilled that he had time for a chat before joining George Malkemus for lunch.

I just had to ask him what he thought about Morley Safer‘s segment on Anna Wintour that aired on 60 Minutes a few weeks back. “I was really impressed with their research,” said Andre, who reported that the show spent weeks at Vogue‘s offices and trekked to Europe for the collections to cover Anna in action and get many of fashion’s most famous faces to weigh in on her decades-long reign at the style bible. We both agreed that Morley sounded a wee bit contemptuous of the players and the game. The newsman’s occasional barbs thrown into the piece — including an observation that Karl Lagerfeld dressed like Count Dracula (“He’s had that look for eight years!”) and that all Vogue‘s young staffers have to be skinny — were “a bit dismissive,” said Andre. (I did love when Anna said that on a recent trip to Minnesota she found most of the folks resembled “little houses.”) Andre reports Anna was “thrilled” with the piece. “It’s 60 Minutes — she was on the same show as Secretary Gates. It was fabulous,” proclaimed Andre.

Today, he was taking a break between the resort presentations that designers were hosting around town in their showrooms this week. “The resort shows are fabulous,” he reports. “It’s become a much more interesting season where people are really doing some fabulous things.” Among the highlights so far: Diane von Furstenberg‘s “Going to Rio”-inspired collection with everything a girl needs all packed into one bag (“It’s her best collection in three years”), Zac Posen‘s ruched silk lame jeans and “major” shoes — especially the sexy lace d’Orsay numbers. Andre also gave high marks to Michael Kors‘ batik prints. “There are a lot of great clothes and great items that women will want to buy.” Music to a lot of retailers’ ears, no doubt.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Conde Nast’s Lou Cona and the dashing Daniel Lalonde, president and CEO of Louis Vuitton, presiding over a table full of movers and shakers.

2. Peter Brown

3. Judith Verno

4. Stephen Swid and a blonde gal we didn’t recognize

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Lunch: Happy Birthday, Cathie Black!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We missed Evander Holyfield by a day, but there was plenty of action to keep our attention in Michael’s jam-packed dining room today. Between the surprise birthday party for Hearst Magazines president Cathie Black on Table One, a smattering of fashionistas, and the bumper crop of beauty industry bigwigs holding court here and there, I suspect there was a fair share of business being done between bites of Cobb Salad. I noticed another interesting trend from my usual perch at the bar: This crowd really likes their cocktails. “For some reason, we are doing a lot of different drinks today,” said my friend Melinda, the bartender. Besides serving up some Shirley Temples, Melinda poured Pernod, Bellinis and Danish Murrays (That’s Aquavit and Bloody Mary mix). One diner who sat down promptly at noon ordered a Johnnie Walker Black on the rocks straight away. It beats iced tea, I guess. Bottoms up!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Hearst Magazines president Cathie Black celebrating with a table full of media mavens (and plenty of presents!), including Harper’s Bazaar publisher Valerie Salembier and power players Jeannette Chang (long time, no see!), Michael Clinton, Ellen Levine and Donna Lagani.

2. Peter Brown, Paige Peterson and a handsome young gent.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and George Stevens. I was thrilled to see the mayor at his regular perch after his recent trip to Austin, where he’s joined the board of his alma mater, the University of Texas. (He got both his law and journalism degrees there.) Joe was staying with his good pal Lance Armstrong, who, he told me, will be competing in this year’s Tour de France and saddling up for the major ‘Tour’ race in Italy. Lance has completely “bounced back” from his shattered collarbone, reports Joe. Just thought you’d like to know…

4. Leonard Lauder and two well-dressed gals we didn’t recognize …

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Lunch: A Heaping Helping of The Usual Suspects

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It’s a lo-cal edition of ‘Lunch’ today. After all, you can’t expect to indulge in a diet rich in celebs and boldface names every week. We’ve spoiled you, I know. (By the way, if you’re looking to chat with some big-time media mavens and news makers, don’t miss the first TVNewser Summit on March 10.) After settling in at the bar, I went searching for tasty tidbits and found some of the regulars ready to serve up some interesting morsels. Men’s Health honcho David Zinczenko, who was praised in Keith Kelly‘s column in today’s New York Post as “a winner” and “the face” of Rodale, returned to the dining room after a long absence. “I’ve been having a lot more lunches at my desk,” Dave told me. Fresh off a round of appearances for his latest Eat This, Not That blockbuster book, Dave was lunching with Michael Caruso, the former editor-in-chief of Men’s Journal now with OpenGate Capital, the equity fund that recently bought TV Guide. No one multitasks like Dave, who was thrilled to show me the April issues of Men’s Health and its increasingly successful sister, Women’s Health, which boasts its first-ever beauty ‘flip cover.’ Dave is thrilled with new-ish hire Michele Promaulayko as editor for Women’s Health and was singing her praises with what she’d done with her first issue. “She’s already a star,” says Dave.

As luck would have it, Michele was right across the room lunching with The Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis so I went over and introduced myself. Michele told me she was “thrilled” to be with the title, and we chatted about the always interesting experience of interviewing and shooting celebs and dished over what makes for a great fashion story. I told her I loved the piece on dressing for work. It looked terrific and oh-so-chic. We both agreed service has its place, but the pictures have to dazzle. And in her premiere issue, they do. “Fashion cred is important,” Michele told me. You’ve got it.

At the bar, there was plenty of conversation among Michael McCarty and his staff about the design for the new label for the upcoming release of his 2005 Pinot Noir from The Malibu Vineyard Rambla Pacifico. It’s his first since replanting in 2000 (in case you were wondering). We cast our vote to stay with the classic but modern look of the 2004 label. Sommelier Seth Liebman tells me the talk also turned to wine yesterday when Jack Kliger, an avid collector, wanted to enjoy a glass of 1970 Les Forts de Latour and didn’t want the rest of the bottle of the impressive vintage to go to waste, so he graciously offered some to director Stephen Daldry. Cheers!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Steve Rubenstein presiding over a table of movers and shakers including Marty Bandier

2. Peter Brown with another distinguished gent (Update: That distinguished gent was New York Daily News editor-in-chief and deputy publisher Martin Dunn)

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Lisa Caputo

4. David Zinczenko and Michael Caruso

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Lunch: Why So Glum, Anna Wintour & Ralph Lauren?

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was standing room only at Michael’s today with a head-spinning assortment of movers and mavens doing some serious table-hopping between bites. We were brightened to see there was a dash of celebrating between all the intense conversations that were going on all around. It’s the holidays, remember?

I was lunching today with Gerry Byrne, senior vice president of The Entertainment Group at Nielsen Business Media. One of the truly good guys in the industry, Gerry has had an amazing career in media that started after he served as a United States Marine Corps Officer in Vietnam, when he took a job at The New York Daily News working in business development. You name an important showbiz publication, and chances are Gerry has been at the helm. He was president and CEO of Stagebill, served as group publisher and president of Variety and Daily Variety (and launched the Gotham edition), started Electronic Media (now Television Week) and Crain’s New York Business. He was consulting for Nielsen when they lured him back into corporate life earlier this year with his current gig. “I never expected to be back doing this, but I’m having a great time,” says Gerry. He’s keeping busy overseeing the company’s entertainment properties and exhibitions including The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Backstage, Kirkus Reviews, The Bookseller and expos like ShoWest. Whew!

We had a fascinating conversation about the state of the entertainment and media industry, with Gerry offering some valuable insights. “It’s all about brand management and creating new partnerships,” he told me. “More people than ever are willing to listen to new ideas about partnerships.” That, says Gerry, is good news for everyone willing to acknowledge what’s in the past is gone and it’s a brave new world. So buck up, all you naysayers, put your thinking caps on and get out there and reinvent yourself. Speaking of reinvention, I asked him to weigh in on NBC’s decision to offer Jay Leno a nightly show on their prime time schedule. “They’re protecting their franchise. Jeff Zucker made a dramatic statement.” The “game-changing” move is sure to change the face of television, says Gerry, who noted, “It couldn’t have been done 10 years ago.” Timing is everything, isn’t it?

The scene spilled over into the Garden Room where Today‘s executive producer Jim Bell and David Gregory were seated. The newly-minted host of Meet The Press gave us a big hello and a smile as he made his way to the back, but slipped out early before we could ask him about his new gig. mediabistro.com’s founder Laurel Touby was a few tables away with metacafe’s CEO Erick Hachenburg and SVP Jack Rotherham and Michael A. Vorhaus of Frank N. Magid Associates. So take that, all you strivers — power is where you find it!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. There were plenty of fireworks: Jerry Inzerillo, Paul Grucci and some lively fellows who were celebrating some big news with champagne

2. Judy McGrath and a gent we didn’t recognize…

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong with a trio of interesting — and enterprising — women: Democratic booster Maureen White, Sarah Rosenthal and Cynthia Brill, who told me the Clear Card biz we chatted about some months ago for this very column is going great guns. The brainchild of Cynthia and her husband Steve, ‘The Easy Pass of airports’ designed to help users ‘fly through airport security,’ is now in 21 airports and coming soon (in ’09, she says) to LAX. We’re all for anything that will improve the hellish experience of surviving a stay in that confounding maze.

4. Frank Gifford and Ron Kanecke

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Lunch At Michael’s: Barry Diller, Bob Iger & The Literary Lioness Club

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— DIANE CLEHANE

For those who like their cobb salads served up with a side order of adrenaline, 55th & Fifth was the place to be today. Media moguls and literary lionesses convened their cliques for some lively conversation that kept the dining room buzzing. Esther Newberg and Anna Quindlen enjoyed lively conversation with ABC’s Lynn Scherr and Faye Wattleton in one corner, while NBA commissioner David Stern and Disney honcho Bob Iger kept a much lower profile in the back. The sighting of the power pair set tongues wagging about this morning’s New York Times story that Stern is forming a Chinese subsidiary with some help from a yet to be announced multi-media partner. Has Mickey got game? Stay tuned …

I was lunching with my good pal Chris Madden. The lifestyle maven is everywhere these days: on the cover of Your Good House (her new magazine produced in partnership with Hearst), in her charming ads for her furniture line with JCPenney and in last week’s Home section of The New York Times. The tireless Ms. Madden is celebrating her 30th year in business next Wednesday at a party at the Gramercy Park Hotel in their oh-so-chic rooftop garden. (Massive goodie bag alert!) Cathie Black, Ellen Levine, Random House’s Chip Gibson and jazz man Steve Tyrell are on the guest list. “It’s all gone by so fast!” says Chris, who started out as a publicist for Random House before breaking out on her own and parlaying her eye for all things fabulous into a far-flung empire encompassing a design business (Oprah, Katie Couric and Toni Morrison have been clients), 16 books, an eight-year run on HGTV and her ever-expanding home furnishings line. Chris has always been a believer that those who do well should do good as well and as such, spent much of last spring in Mississippi where she donated the contents of her Vermont warehouse filled with furniture to help survivors of the Hurricane Katrina rebuild their homes.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Lynn Scherr, Esther Newberg, Faye Wattleton (who left her trench coat on during lunch) and Anna Quinlan.

2. Peter Brown & Jonathan Alter.

3. Ed Rollins and a distinguished looking gent…

4. Jay Cross and Steve Greenberg.

5. A smiling (!?) Barry Diller with an unidentified guest. We’re intrigued by the fact that no one ever seems to know the name of the taciturn Mr. Diller’s lunch guests…

6. Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina, Gerry Imber and pals.

7. We’re not sure and neither was anyone else…

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Lunch at Michael’s: Is Dave Zinczenko Ready For Prime Time?

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Magazine moguls kept things interesting today at 55th and Fifth. Without the usual intriguing mix of celebrities (who were, undoubtedly still recovering from Oscar overload) to observe, we spent the afternoon wondering what the editors and behind-the-scenes execs were plotting over their cobb salads. Our good friend, Men’s Health honcho Dave Zinczenko, told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane that he’s “close” to inking a television deal with Al Roker‘s production company. The program would be a showcase for the burgeoning Men’s Health brand and might even feature the always camera-ready Dave who has been refining his telegenic talents on Today‘s couch for some time now.

Here’s the rundown on the rest of the crowd who dined & dished:

1. Nightline’s Cynthia McFadden, Ruth Friendly and an unidentified gentleman. We caught Cynthia’s broadcast the other night where she reported on the on-going Anna Nicole Smith saga. Kudos for striking just the right tone of dispassionate distaste while filling us in (we want to, but we can’t look away) on the latest details of this train wreck that won’t go away.

2. Michael Lewittes and an unidentified blonde gal.

3. Wayne Tabach.

4. Today’s Al Roker and Jim Bell.

5. Gerry Byrne and guest.

6. Liz Finkel, with we hear, her fiancé. Congrats!

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