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Posts Tagged ‘Esther Newberg’

Lunch: TV Titans, Ivana Trump, & Devo!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

You never know who you’re going to meet on any given Wednesday at Michael’s. I’ve chatted with former presidents, Oscar winners, and tabloid targets who have made the usually unflappable crowd turn and stare, but it’s those unexpected, below the radar moments that are often the most fun. When GM Steve Millington introduced me to Jerry Casale of Devo, one of my favorite ’80s bands, I was delighted. Just last week, I’d just seen Pearl Jam’s cover of the group’s famous anthem, “Whip It,” on YouTube where they wore copies of those infamous yellow jumpsuits and red flowerpot hats. I asked Jerry if he’d known about the act in advance. “No, and I wished they’d told me,” he joked. “I would have been able to tell them about the hard hat holders we wore to keep our hats in place. They had to settle for those silly elastic straps under their chins.” Still, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, says Jerry. “I’ve gotten so many calls since it wound up in Rolling Stone and gone viral. It’s a lot of fun.”

Larry Kramer joined me for lunch today and was excited to tell me all about his upcoming book, Talespin, which was bought by HarperCollins earlier this fall (Freddie Friedman agented the deal). In it, Larry tackles the idea of how all businesses are grappling with “the recreation of storytelling” from publishing to retailing. The game has changed, says Larry, especially in media. He takes “the media guys” to task for “protecting the business model instead of the business.” Besides getting top executives from here and abroad to weigh in (in his reporting Larry discovered Europe was way ahead of the curve in adapting to a changing multi-platform world) — the book is a sum total of Larry’s experience in “the old and new worlds of media.” In addition to his two decades as a reporter and editor for top papers including The Washington Postand the San Francisco Examiner, Larry founded MarketWatch in 1997 and has helmed CBS Digital Media. These days, he’s consulting for a cross section of media ventures including Discovery Networks and The Weather Channel. In January, Larry will begin teaching a graduate level course at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School where some of the lectures will be Skyped in and students will be “embedded” into companies to study their strategies first hand.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Cosmo editrix Kate White with a table full of gals we didn’t get to meet.

2. Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, uber agent Ed Victor and Don Epstein of Greater Talent Network.

4. Author Ed Klein and Owen Laster

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Lunch: Charlie Rose, Dan Abrams & The Rain-Soaked Usual Suspects

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The biblical rain kept most of the moguls and media mavens away today. So, rather than people watch, I passed the time by flipping through the latest issue of Avenue featuring an ultra-glam Katie Couric on the cover. The glossy devotes eight (!) pages to the CBS Evening News anchor and photographed her dripping in diamonds and sporting gowns by red carpet favorites Alberta Ferretti and Monique Lhuiller. Interviewed by Law & Order SVU‘s Mariska Hargitay, Katie says, “Looking sexy is not my goal when I’m at work.” Obviously, it’s a different story when she’s not sitting behind the anchor desk.

I lunched today with my longtime pal Trica Jean-Baptiste, who is the principal of her own public relations firm specializing in the travel and tourism industries. We met years ago through New York Women in Communications (NYWICI) where she served on the board. Trica brought along another NYWICI member, Ross Ellis, who works on the organization’s tireless Matrix committee. We all agreed that Brian Williams will be a fabulous host for next year’s Matrix Awards. Remember Rosie O’Donnell‘s disastrous expletive-fueled turn at hosting a few years back? We’ll never forget it — and we’ve tried. Besides working on Matrix, Ross helms the not-for-profit group, Love Our Children USA, which works to end abuse and educate families about stopping violence against children. The organization has been going strong for eleven years and Ross, who was an abused child herself, has garnered the support of an impressive roster of celebrities including Bette Midler and Elton John. Both have donated great items for the group’s online auction going on right now at charityfolks.com. (Get your bids in soon, because it ends Friday.) These days, Ross is hard at work on next year’s National Love Our Children Day which is scheduled for April 10. Mark your calendars!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

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

2. Nielsen’s Gerry Byrne and Fox5′s Greg Kelly

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and HarperCollins’ publisher Jonathan Burnham. I couldn’t wait to get some dish-y morsel about Sarah Palin‘s new book Going Rogue due November 17. “What was the most surprising thing about working with her?” I asked. Jon deferred with a wry smile saying, “My lips are sealed.” I guess we’re going to have to wait for her appearance on Oprah the day before the book is released for the scoop. Here’s hoping the former governor includes a Wednesday lunch at Michael’s on her itinerary for what’s sure to be a whirlwind media tour.

4. Dan Abrams (in jeans!) and John Josephson

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Lunch: Town & Country‘s Pamela Fiori & The Getaway Gang

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It seemed only fitting that our lunch today was with Pamela Fiori, whose new book from Assouline, In The Spirit of Capri, celebrates the ultimate getaway spot. While the regulars in the dining room traded air kisses and vacation itineraries, the Town & Country editrix, along with Hearst public relations director Nathan Christopher, chatted with me over heirloom tomato salads about how this beautiful book (with tons of exquisite photos) came to be. Pamela, whose love of travel has taken her to every glamorous port of call imaginable, says the book happened by accident. A longtime fan of Capri, she suggested to Prosper Assouline and his wife Martine that they feature the divine destination in one of the house’s signature illustrated tomes. The publisher told Pamela, ‘I’m sending you a contract!’ That was that, she says. “I wanted him to do the book, but I didn’t mean for me to write it.” It became a weekend project for the busy Hearst editor, and the book debuted this month, brimming with fabulous photos including images of a barefoot Jackie O strolling through the streets with Valentino and shots of actress Marisa Berenson at the peak of her beauty in the ’60s. A launch party is planned for September 4 on Capri, hosted by Diego Della Valle and Tomino Cacace, owner of the Capri Palace. I’m packing as we speak…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Pamela Fiori, Nathan Christopher and yours truly

2. Paul Schaeffer, who sipped a virgin Bloody Mary while he waited for his pal, Law & Order’s SVU‘s Richard Belzer, to arrive.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, looking crisp and cool in his summer linens, with Kathie Berlin. Joe is fresh off his yearly visit to Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Camp, where he was camp counselor to a cabin of 10-year-old cancer patients. “These kids are so amazing,” Joe told me. “When you see what they’re going through you, realize all the stuff we worry about around here doesn’t mean anything.” Indeed.

4. Esther Newberg, who arrived toting Patricia Cornwall‘s latest (“A New York Times bestseller!”) and a gentleman we didn’t recognize

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Lunch: Hoda Kotb & Bravo’s Housewives Hold Court

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was SRO at Michael’s today, and although the place was filled to the brim with movers and shakers of every stripe, all eyes were on table one: Today‘s Hoda Kotb presided over a raucous lunch with a trio of Real Housewives from Bravo’s compulsively watchable franchise. Tongues wagged aplenty as the crowd watched the reality TV stars saunter in. First to arrive was Tamra Barney (Orange County) with her husband Simon, followed by NeNe Leakes (Atlanta). Danielle Straub (New Jersey) was, of course, the last to arrive — all the better to make a grand entrance. The gals have been guest-hosting Today‘s fourth hour this week, filling in for the vacationing Kathie Lee Gifford.

I just had to make my way over to their table to chat with the headline-making Danielle, who just last night precipitated a catfight for the ages on the season finale of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. As faithful fans of the series know, Danielle’s former life as a stripper who ran with a bad crowd was chronicled in Cop Without A Badge, written, she says, by an ex-husband more than two decades ago. Since then, Danielle reinvented herself and settled in suburbia hoping to keep the past buried. Lucky for Bravo, her frenemies on the show discovered her story, and the fur started flying. Last night, things came to a head when Danielle confronted the other Housewives about their role in bringing the long-forgotten tome to town.

I asked Danielle if the Sopranos-style last supper where everyone gathered for a ‘friendly’ dinner had been staged. “Of course,” she said. “Why else would I have been invited?” Things got really ugly when Teresa Giudice started letting the profanities fly in front of Danielle’s two young daughters and the group ganged up on her. Despite putting up a strong front, Danielle told me the episode “ripped her apart” and afterward, she and her girls retreated to her home where they stayed curled up in her bed for a few days. “We were sick from it, and it was the one place we felt safe.” But, like the tough survivor she is, the breakout star of the series is back with a vengeance with plans to write a book (“It will be something empowering to help women”) and is being repped by Maura Teitelbaum at Abrams Artists Agency. According to Danielle, her daughters have adjusted to the limelight nicely. Her eldest, Christine, is fielding offers from modeling agencies, including Elite. And get this — she says if Bravo wants a second season, she’s there. “Oh my God, of course I’d do it!”

I was glad I was lunching today with my new friend Dr. Phillip Romero, who specializes in family and couple’s therapy. Phil is currently hard at work on two books, Phantom Stress and The Art of Impermanence. I asked him why we like to watch these reality shows that are such spectacles of dysfunction. “It’s voyeurism that makes us feel better about ourselves,” says Phil. These days when “our collective anxiety is higher than at any other time in human history” because of the “sweeping changes occurring at all levels of society” Phil says these shows offer a diversion, “a media quick fix” that takes our mind off the serious issues at hand. Makes sense to me.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Today‘s Hoda Kotb, producer Tammy Filler, Bravo’s Real Housewives NeNe Leakes, Tamra Barney (with husband Simon), and Danielle Straub.

2. Andrew Stein with a distinguished dark-haired gent we didn’t recognize

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Glamour editrix Cindi Leive rocking a LBD and pearls. Joe tells me he’s off to Cuba on a ‘humanitarian mission’ for a few weeks. Safe travels, and we’ll see you when you return!

4. Esther Newberg and Jeffrey Toobin. We caught Jeff on CNN the other day deconstructing the effect of David Letterman‘s joke about Sarah Palin‘s daughter. While the other pundits debated whether the former vice presidential nominee’s daughters were fair game, Jeff weighed in by saying he thought Letterman crossed the line by calling Governor Palin’s look ‘slutty.’ Chivalry is not dead after all…

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Lunch: The Special Post-Election Edition

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The Michael’s crowd was in full party mode today as television titans, media mavens and talking heads mingled gleefully with politicos who were celebrating Barack Obama‘s historic victory. “Finally, some good news!” exclaimed one of the regulars as he made his way into the jam-packed dining room. It seemed more than a bit poetic that on the eve of Camelot 2.0 Caroline Kennedy quietly made her way to table one, avoiding all the table-hopping and glad-handing that was going on around her. If there were any disappointed John McCain supporters in the room, they were keeping a low profile. Okay, Mary Matalin made the scene with hubby James Carville but she didn’t exactly look like she was celebrating. Everyone agreed Obama’s speech last night was stirring, but one observer offered this insight to chew on: “Sure it’s exciting, but it’s going to be pretty much impossible to live up to all this hype. The guy’s gotta be feeling some pressure.” If he is, he sure is wearing it well.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Early Show: Saturday Night Live scribe James Signorelli; Second shift: Caroline Kennedy, Jimmy Buffett and his wife Jamie

2. Producer Jon Hart, Doug Steiner and another gent we didn’t get to meet…

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, producer Susan Stroman (Young Frankenstein), uber-agent Ed Victor and his gorgeous wife Carol. A little birdie told me the ‘Mayor’ will be hosting one of his legendary lunches next week. We can’t wait!

4. Gerald Schoenfeld with an unidentified gent

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Lunch: Valerie Bertinelli Weighs In

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— DIANE CLEHANE

As much as we love our bird’s eye perch from the bar, it’s always a treat when we’re invited to dine in the grown up section — especially when the scene is as head-spinning as it was today. Hallmark Channel’s senior vice president Jen Geisser and her power publicist Jaime Saberito made room for me at the table at a luncheon hosted by their fearless leader the consummate showman Henry Schleiff and attended by a tasty stew of bold-faced names and top executives from UNICEF that made for one interesting afternoon of Cobb salads and conversation. Henry, newly ensconced on UNICEF’s board, brought the group to together to kick off the TAP project during ‘World Water Week’ (March 16-22). The initiative was created to raise funds and awareness by asking NYC diners at select eateries around town to forego their Fiji water for good old NYC tap water and donate what they would have spent on it to help fund clean water for kids around the world. And, yes, Michael’s is participating.

The reigning queen of the celebrity diet wars Valerie Bertinelli (A 40-pound weight loss thanks to Jenny Craig!) was the guest of honor (arriving with her boyfriend Tom Vitale) having made one movie for the network with another one in the works — Mrs. Washington Goes to Smith (Catchy title!). The still adorable actress and newly minted best-selling author was busy signing books for everyone (Henry thinks of everything!) but still made time to chat with me. Her big news — her book, Losing It — And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at Time will debut at No. 1 on this week’s New York Times‘ list. “I’m so thrilled — it’s on my son’s 17th birthday and I dedicated the book to him,” she says. “I couldn’t be more blessed.” Val (we’re on a first name basis now) also confided that she’s hot on starting another book and already has an idea that’s bound to strike a chord. “I’d like to write something like Divorce & Children: Love Your Child More Than You Hate Your Ex. The list is long when one considers who might benefit from such a tome. For now, at least, it appears Silda Spitzer won’t be needing it but we’re not closing the book on that one just yet.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The white wine was flowing in celebration of Linda Fairstein‘s latest book, Killer Heat with a table full of gals that know a little something about the subject. In attendance: Cosmo editrix Kate White, super agent Esther Newberg, former Law & Order SVU star Stephanie March, Lesley Stahl (I promise to keep my eye out for that 60 Minutes watch!) and Cynthia Lufkin (Congrats on being named The American Cancer Society’s Mother of the Year!)

2. Bobby Zarem and a Jake Gyllenhaal doppelganger.

3. Mayor Joe Armstrong who has been traveling far and wide hard at work on his upcoming book with some lovely looking ladies. Welcome back Joe, we missed you!

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Lunch At Michael’s: Paging George Clooney! Fern Mallis is Saving You a Seat at Fashion Week!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

What recession? The dining room at 55th & Fifth was buzzing with the usual assemblage of bold face names, social swans and television types that tucked into their Cobb salads with gusto while digesting some of the week’s harrowing headlines. Hollywood figured heavily into many of today’s conversation with folks reeling from the shocking death of Heath Ledger and others seriously contemplating the possibility of a celebrity-free Academy Awards. IGM’s Fern Mallis, who is days away from kicking off Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, hopes cooler heads will prevail on the left coast and everyone is back on the red carpet come Oscar night. “With the economy tanking, it’s not about seeing pretty dresses on the red carpet,” says Fern. “It’s about having so many people being put out of work as a result of the strike. We need this Oscar to happen for a lot of reasons.” The one bright spot: since the stars aren’t working at the moment, Fern expects a slew of celebrities to show up at Bryant Park. At the top of her wish list: George Clooney. “I’d always find a seat for him.’ Perhaps when the newly minted best actor nominee wraps up his rumored role in the negotiations to get everybody back to work, he’ll make time for a pit stop in New York. Here’s hoping …

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, Sharon Hoge and a table full of handsome gents.

2. Richard Rubenstein.

3. Peter Price.

4. Esther Newberg with ‘Barefoot Contessa’ Ina Garten.

5. Harper Collins’ Jane Friedman.

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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: A ‘Roomful of Bitches’

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpg[EDITOR'S NOTE: Sure, the media world shuts down in late August — and our Lunch At Michael's column takes a breather to regroup — but we wouldn't let those of you chained to your desks down. This week and next we're running favorite columns from the past year, handpicked by our LaM scribe, Diane Clehane.]

We’re always kept more than occupied checking out the bold faced names in the main dining room on our weekly visits but today our radar was truly put to the test when the usually celeb-free Garden Room was the hotbed of activity with an estrogen-fueled, invitation-only lunch hosted by Peggy Siegal for Arianna Huffington. The luncheon (where no one touched dessert) brought out the most head-spinning cross-section of alpha females, power blondes and social swans we’ve seen in a long time.

The Gotham gals we spotted: Joni Evans, Karenna Gore, Naomi Wolff (who must be so proud of Al Gore‘s newfound mojo), Zoe Baird, Nora Ephron (who seemed to be traveling incognito in her dark sunglasses while checking out the dining room on her way inside), Fern Mallis, Dayle Haddon (who somehow lost her cellphone in the fray), Fran Drescher, Karen Duffy, Arlene Dahl (sporting her favorite black patent leather newsboy cap!?!), Deborah Roberts, Erica Jong, Maria Cuomo Cole, Somers White and InStyle‘s Cindy Weber Cleary. Lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane, who was dining with OK! editrix Sarah Ivens, got the lowdown on the crowd from Joan Rivers, who summed up the afternoon thusly: “You’re better off out here! That was a roomful of bitches in there!”

Here’s a rundown of the rest of the crowd:

Table 1. A pow-wow of beauty industry bigwigs: GCI (Global Cosmetic Industry) editor-in-chief Karen A. Newman, Marc Rosen and a table full of colleagues. A photographer from Cosmetic World/Beauty Fashion hovered nearby to capture the big doings.

2. Uberagent Esther Newberg, who was spotted picking at the plate of her guest.

3. John Josephson.

4. Herb Siegal.

5. Stanley Schuman.

6. Henry Schlieff toting a Hallmark goodie bag to his lunch with newsgals Lynn White, Rosanna Scott, Jane Hansen and Penny Crone. The tireless showman was overheard asking Charles Stevenson who was seated at David Patrick Columbia‘s table about his golf game and promising to hit the links with him soon .

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