— DIANE CLEHANE
If it’s Wednesday, it’s party time at Michael’s. We’re still recovering from the head spinning spectacle of last week’s A-list lunch for James Cameron. This week, the celebration was a tad more low-key at Table One as public relations maven Joannie Danielides hosted her annual birthday luncheon for her good pal and long time client, Donna Hanover, whose actual birthday was February 15. Joannie, who is busier than ever these days with a full roster of clients in health care and education, told me it was actually a double celebration since it was guest Paula Zahn‘s birthday as well.
I caught up with Paula before she joined the party to chat about her new show, On the Case with Paula Zahn, on Discovery ID. “We’ve just been renewed for a second season,” said Paula, who looked better than ever in a chic leopard print top and some killer stiletto boots. “It’s been great. I’m getting to do some amazing stories. Right after this, I’m getting on a plane and heading to an Alabama prison.” Some people have all the fun.
I had lunch with two of my favorite people today: producer Joan Gelman and Robert Zimmerman, partner of the Long Island based marketing firm, Zimmerman/Edelson. Joan arrived first and told me about her recent trip to Vietnam with her husband, Don Aronson. Both Joan and Don were anti-war activists back in the day and are still true believers. On this trip, the couple spent some time visiting orphanages and were “shocked and appalled” to see the awful effects that Agent Orange has wrought on the country. “It was horrifying to see the stark reality of what war can do to a people — and what we did to these people,” Joan told me.
Things lightened up a bit when Robert arrived. Between the two of them, they know just about everyone in New York and, trust me, the conversation is never dull. (Most of the juiciest stuff is, of course, off the record.) Since Joan is a die-hard Democrat and Robert is an in-demand political commentator for all the cable channels, we had plenty to talk about. When Evan Bayh‘s surprise resignation from Congress came up, Robert offered this assessment: “Saying he’s fallen out of love with Congress is something a 14 year-old adolescent would say. There’s a lot more to it than being in love; it’s about getting the job done.” Robert had these words of advice for jump-starting the stalled government: “The challenge for the Democrats is to come out of group therapy and get things started again. The ball is in our court. Success depends on us acting on our message.”
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Birthday girls Donna Hanover and Paula Zahn, Joannie Danielides, Gayle King, Time Inc’s Ann Moore, Linda Stacey, Karen Scott, Sue Leibman and Matilda Cuomo. A little birdie told me the girls dug into two birthday cakes: one carrot cake and one chocolate. It seems like the group couldn’t get enough sweet treats. We spied doggie bags stuffed with cookies being packed into a few purses.
3. Gerry Byrne, who just launched Fidelis Global Enterprises LLC. New clients of his advertising media consultancy agency include Adgenesis and Beezag. I caught up with Jerry until his guest, Jane Hanson, arrived. I told Jane I loved the stuff she’s been doing on LX New York, showing the fledgling talking heads how it’s done.
4. A bespectacled Mike Ovitz and a fellow we didn’t recognize