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Posts Tagged ‘Fern Mallis’

Tim Gunn, Pharrell Williams and a Flock of Fashionistas

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Today’s dreary downpour didn’t keep the faithful away from Michael’s. After missing our usual Wednesday lunch last week (It seems the flu season is starting early this year), we were happy to see that the joint was jam packed with the usual suspects, plenty of fashionistas, and some interesting new folks we hadn’t run into before. (Tim Gunn and Grace Mirabella get my vote as the most interesting set of stylistas we’ve come across in this dining room for quite a while.)

But I knew someone important must be here when I spotted two formidable fellows at the bar. It turns out they were the bodyguards of multi-hyphenate Pharrell Williams who, I must admit, I didn’t immediately recognize because he was somewhat hidden under his red ski cap. The musician-producer-composer and fashion designer (Billionaire Boys Club, Ice Cream Clothing) sure knows who to dress to impress. We were coveting his Chanel sneakers. A man of unique personal style to be sure.

I was joined today by my good friend Dr. Phillip Romero who is keeping pretty busy these days. Phil is in the process of moving into chic new midtown digs where, in addition to seeing patients for his practice as a family therapist, he’ll be launching a new business venture which will include classes and seminars on ”family resilience”  for parents. In his spare time, he’s also getting a lot of interest from several media companies who want to bring his fascinating book, The Art Imperative, to television. I just had to ask Phil what he thought of New York’s cover story about the recession era, post-hope generation who are grappling with the harsh reality of coming of age in this era of uncertainty. One reason these young people are struggling so much, says Phil, is because they were “over parented” and “didn’t learn to take care of themselves.” He says many overprotective parents will inflict the  same fate on their children if they’re not careful. “It’s a cultural problem,” he says. “Parents want to protect their kids from the things they struggled with but, in doing so, focus on their own past instead of being involved in the present and their child’s own needs. They wind up saddling kids with the parents’ problems that have nothing to do with their own life. Kids have to be free to create themselves.”

When it comes to dealing with the ‘new normal’  on a macro level, Phil offers this bit of advice which, to me, sounds like a universal prescription: “The enemy is not the economy, or your spouse, or all the new technology. Today the enemy is chronic relationship stress that tears families apart. When it takes hold, you forget how to love. When we can learn to master this stress and we can change our brain response to the stress triggers in our relationships at home, at work and in the world.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Lynn de Rothschild (Andrew Stein‘s ex, in case you were wondering)

2. Wayne Kabak and UTA’s Simon Trewin

3. Michael Fuchs

4. Jacqui Safra (Jean Doumanian‘s hubby)

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Scottie Pippen Mixes It Up With the Media Mob & Does Rosie Have a New Lady Love?

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Things have been pretty busy at Michael’s this week. On Monday, none other than James Bond aka Daniel Craig dropped by. (“His eyes are so blue!” cooed one smitten staffer). Yesterday, a very laid back Rosie O’Donnell showed up with, so we’re told, a new lady love in tow, and they didn’t have to wait for one of the coveted tables at the very front of the restaurant. They settled for something further back. Today, the usual Wednesday SRO crowd started showing up well before the appointed lunch hour, leaving plenty of time for air kissing and glad handing all around.

I was joined today by Lisa Sharkey, HarperCollins’s senior vice president and director of creative development. Lisa is one hot property herself having spent 25 years in television including stints at Good Morning America, Inside Edition and Al Roker‘s production company before making the switch to publishing four and a half years ago. “The skills were totally transferable. I wanted to bring the TV model to books. I love authors. When I was in television, I was always drawn to them. Now, I consider my authors part of my family and have great relationships with them,” Lisa tells me. “I’m much happier in book publishing because there is more time to spend on a projects. Books have the power to last for generations.” Now, anyone who is anyone — or who wants to be someone — is after Lisa to publish their books. This season, Lisa had no less than four books on the New York Times best seller list, including How to Love an American Man (currently being shopped as a film project by United Talent Agency), football phenom Tim Tebow‘s Through My Eyes, and soap opera diva Susan Lucci’s memoir,  All My Life (We really loved the scathing epilogue she added to the paperback edition taking ABC president Brian Frons to the woodshed for cancelling the beloved soap, All My Children. Go Susan!)

Lisa has a full slate of upcoming books where there is something for everyone. Later this month, actress Carre Otis‘ no-holds barred memoir, Beauty Disrupted, will tell all about her relationship with Mickey Rourke. Due out in November, Imperfect Justice by Jeffrey Ashton is sure to make headlines when the Casey Anthony prosecutor offers his version of what happened behind the scenes of her trial and why is he completely convinced of Anthony’s guilt. “The prosecutor’s story is the real story of the trial. He’s got a lot to say,” says Lisa. No doubt.  On the other end of the spectrum, HarperCollins has a slew of celebrity titles this fall including the first novel penned by those ubiquitous Kardashian sisters, which was Lisa’s idea. The book, due out November 15, spins a fictional (but no doubt inspired by real life) tale of three sisters growing up with a famous father in Hollywood. “The fun is trying to figure out what’s real disguised as fiction,” says Lisa. There was quite a fracas coming up with a title. Lisa wanted to call it Keeping Up but, she told me, the powers that be at E! put the kibosh on the idea saying that was their brand. Lisa then came up with the idea of launching a contest on Twitter asking followers to come up with their own titles. The winning entry, Dollhouse, was submitted by a gal named Courtney who will herself be written into the book as a wedding planner. Savvy Lisa, who is always coming up with clever ways to market her books, decided the cover will be in leopard print and is hoping to do a special edition adorned with Swarovski crystal (“Kim loves bling!”). The sisters’ fans can also turn the cover over for a special keepsake poster that is sure to find its way into plenty of teen bedrooms.

As for the general state of the industry, Lisa weighs in with this: “Publishing is in a new transformative stage. The new wave of eBooks has opened up a world of possibilities. For those who are addicted to technology and books, it’s the perfect fit.”  To wit: HarperCollins’ eBook version of Sammy Hagar‘s best selling memoir, Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock, featured enhanced content that included a sit-down with Hagar talking about his career at the end of each chapter. Lisa and her team expect the eBook version of Gregg Allman‘s yet-to-be-titled memoir due out next year to have a wide range of enhanced content. By the way, I got a glimpse of the book’s stunning cover and it has best seller written all over it.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Fashionista Mickey Ateyeh with an impressive crowd of power lunch gals: producer Fran Weissler, Fern Mallis (looking fabulous since being on the mend from two broken elbows), Cindy Lewis, Barbara Cutler and Laurie Tisch

2. Six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen, with PR gal Tammy Brooks and some other lovely looking ladies we didn’t get to meet.

3. Proprietor Michael McCarty holding court with Mort Hamburg (Nice to meet you!) and another formidable looking fellow

4. Peter Brown with the very chic Judith Czelusniak. Read more

Mary Higgins Clark, The Hiltons And The Media Mob

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– DIANE CLEHANE

The sweltering heat (wasn’t it just snowing last week?) didn’t keep the regulars away from Michael’s today. The dining room was jam packed with authors, agents and media mavens all deep in conversation about who knows what. From the looks of things, the power lunch crowd here is gearing up for a busy season of neworking that has to be crammed into a four-day work week now that those summer cottages are open.  Oh, the pressure!

I was thrilled to join Vi Huse and Kira Semler for lunch today. I met them almost five years ago when I first started covering the scene at Michael’s and was fascinated by these two attractive, fun loving gals who always seemed to have a grand old time at their monthly champagne lunch (and always ate dessert!). Turns out these two good friends have been keeping their Michael’s lunch date with each other for over ten years! “This is only the second time we’ve sat in the dining room,” Vi told me.  “We always sit at the bar and it’s just become our spot.”

Today, the three of us sat with the big kids in the dining room to celebrate Vi’s 23 years as owner of Kerygma, a gallery in Ridgewood, New Jersey specializing in contemporary American art. Vi just retired yesterday but tells me she will continue to work with artists like Peter Fiore, Gerald Doudera, David Lee and Jane Owen online. Kira, a jewelry aficionado and freelance bookeeper, was one of Vi’s first clients and the gals have been fast friends ever since. Cheers!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Mary Higgins Clark, Carolyn Reidy and a table full of pals. The indefatigable 83-year-old author was the subject of a glowing profile in The Wall Street Journal last month which chronicled her success: she’s sold 100 million books in the U.S. alone, and all 42 of her novels have been best-sellers. With I’ll Walk Alone, released in April, she’s keeping her winning streak going. We’re in awe.

2. Michael Holtzman (Peter Brown’s VP and right hand man, so we’re told.)

3. Joan TischCandace Leeds and Marcia Stein

4. The always distinguished Stan Shuman

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David Zinczenko, Keith Kelly and The Media Mavens

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Sorry, but you can’t expect dish about an Oscar winner every week. (We’re still reeling from our brush with Cate Blanchett in the dining room last Wednesday!) We’re chalking it up to school vacations, but the scene was relatively quiet at Michael’s today where the regulars had to be contented dishing with their dates rather than people watching.

Because we aim to please, I’ll fill you in on who has been spotted in the dining room since we filed our last column. On Friday, I was thrilled to be seated near Whoopi Goldberg, Bette Midler, Marlo Thomas, Liz Smith (looking better than ever!) and Cynthia McFadden. I don’t know if the feeling was mutual since I had my six year-old with me. Yesterday, my pal and accessory maven Mickey Ateyeh popped in with designer Carlos Falchi and actress Brenda Vaccaro. Here’s hoping there’s more to report next week!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Media Advisory Group’s chairman Jack Myers with Dave Jackson and Orlando Reece of Grab Networks.

2. Men’s Health honcho David Zinczenko and The New York Post’s media guru Keith Kelly. Before Keith arrived, I caught up with David at the bar. David  is among the Elaine’s loyalists who are completely aghast at Michael Wolff’s vicious depiction of  the late Elaine Kaufman in the March issue of British GQ. According to an item on Page Six today, Wolff likens the beloved restaurateur to a ”low class madam” and describes the food at her iconic celebrity haunt as “inedible.” Very nice.

3. Producer Jean Doumanian and a pal we didn’t get to meet.

4.  The Metropolitan Museum’s John O’Keefe (loved the bow tie!) who passed the time waiting for his lunch date, Tim Mulligan, by sipping chardonnay and skimming the latest issue of Star.

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David Carey, Steve Madden and The Power Blondes

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Not even the seventh snow storm of the season (we’re begging for mercy — enough!) could keep the faithful away from Michael’s today. There were power gals aplenty and media mavens galore who braved the elements to make it to 55th Street. We marvel at your stamina. (Is it me or do all successful women over a certain age in this city eventually wind up with the identical shade of blonde?)

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Literary agent Esther Newberg, presiding over a table of wonder women  including bestselling crime novelist Linda Fairstein, author and ABC News correspondent Lynn Sherr, CBS’ Lesley Stahl, and the Honorable Kimba Woods.

2. Fashionista Fern Mallis (We miss you on The Fashion Show!), whose consulting business is thriving, and a stylish gent we didn’t get to meet.

3. Hudson News’ James Cohen.

4. 2 Degrees Ventures’ Mitch Kanner.

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Stars Flock to Huffington Post Game Changers Party

Image via HuffPo

“Innovators, mavericks, visionaries, and leaders” convened in downtown New York Thursday night as The Huffington Post celebrated its 100 Game Changers of 2010. Neon centerpieces including a flaming orange shopping cart and lime green globe adorned the darkly lit Skylight Studios space, and we thought for a minute we mistakenly showed up for Arianna Huffington‘s big, fat Greek Bat Mitzvah. Not to worry: A bacon cheeseburger passed hors d’oeuvre cleared up the confusion. Giant screens projected winners in each “Game Changer” category, from food to activism to education — though we didn’t spot a Divorce vertical (maybe next year!).

Amid the swarm of celebs, we spotted Sean Penn, Anderson Cooper, Gayle King, Paulina Porizkova, Tom Colicchio (adorably holding hands with his wife), Marcus Samuelsson, Gail Simmons, and Fern Mallis, but we just had to stop and talk to former governor Eliot Spitzer. Even though we were tempted to ask to see his socks, we took the high road and asked him about his new show on CNN, Parker Spitzer. We asked Spitzer what the hardest part has been so far, and he responded, “Only having eight to 12 minute segments to work with” for each guest. What has he learned since the first taping? “Talk quickly because you only have eight minutes.” He told us he wishes he had an hour instead (we have a feeling that’s never gonna happen), and when we asked who he’d most like to have on the show, Spitzer named Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, remarking that the latter ex-prez “always has a lot to say” and adding, “The fun part is interviewing people I don’t necessarily agree with.” We couldn’t agree more, Mr. Spitzer.

Follow the jump for HuffPo’s red carpet video coverage.
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Mogul Mania with Jack Welch & David Geffen

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was SRO at Michael’s today with moguls Jack Welch and David Geffen holding court at their respective tables while the celebrity du jour, none other than George Hamilton, caused more than his fair share of double takes. We overheard one fan gush, “I loved you on Dancing With the Stars!” (So did we, but we’re too cool to say so.) Meanwhile, the rest of the crowd was so busy air kissing and table hopping between bites it’s a miracle anyone actually got to eat anything. We’re glad we did, because the new fall menu is fabulous!

I was joined today by Debbie Phillips, life coach and founder of Women On Fire, and Sophfronia Scott, author and founder of The Done For You Writing & Publishing Company. Debbie is busier than ever with her Women on Fire tea parties that have been helping women from all walks of life ignite their true passions since 2004. She’s hosting one at Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon in Gramercy Park on Friday, and there are others scheduled for Columbus, Ohio, Boston, Santa Fe and Naples this fall. Debbie is on track to reaching her important goal of “connecting 50,000 women to each other” through Women on Fire this year. You go, girl!

Sophfronia, who I first met when we worked at People together another life ago, got to know Debbie after she attended one of her tea parties. She is really on a roll. This mom of an adorable six year-old boy has been regularly cranking out books since she published her first novel All I Need to Get By in 2004. She recently published How The Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times (Two Harbors) in which she compiles words of wisdom from high rollers, including Donald Trump and Jack Canfield. Just how does she juggle it all? “I can write for about four hours at a time; then I have to get up and do something else,” Sophfronia tells me. See, it’s just that simple.

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. Peter Brown and Grace Hightower (That’s Mrs. Robert De Niro to you.)

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong

4. Alan Grubman, David Geffen and Bob Daley

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Ralph Lauren, Jenna Bush, and the Media Mob

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was good to be back at my regular perch at Michael’s today after a nasty bug kept me home last week. I returned to a scene buzzing with a head-spinning mix of fashion designers, famous faces, and the requisite media moguls. Don’t these people ever take a day off? I’m guessing not.

Today I was joined by W. Randall Jones (‘Randy’ to his friends), who I got to know right here in the dining room. Randy is, without fail, always the best dressed man in the room. (He credits Martin Greenfield, the Brooklyn-based tailor to Bill Clinton and Colin Powell, for his sartorial success.) When Randy arrived looking as dashing as ever in his three-piece navy pinstriped suit, we got right down to dishing.

This is a man who knows just about everyone, which is no surprise considering he’s had a stellar 30-year career in media. He launched Worth magazine in 1992 and was the youngest publisher in magazine history when he nabbed the top spot at Esquire at the ripe old age of 29. The self-described “serial entrepreneur” also launched The American Benefactor, the first magazine about philanthropy from the donor’s perspective and released his first book, The Greatest Stock Picks of All Time, to plenty of attention in 2004.

The tastiest dish is off the record, but I can tell you his latest tome, The Richest Man in Town, has been a big success. It vaulted to the number one spot on Amazon right after Randy appeared on Wall Street Week with Maria Bartiromo. These days, he’s working on a top secret television project. We can’t wait to hear more.

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. A photographer from The New York Times was on hand to capture everything for an upcoming piece on the good doctor for the Style section. We’ll be looking for it.

2. Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and The Daily Beast’s Bryan Curtis who, when I asked what he did for the website replied, “Whatever Tina tells me to do.” Nice to meet you!

4. Ralph Lauren (who kept his sunglasses on throughout lunch) and Buffy Birrittella, the designer’s longtime executive vice president of women’s design and advertising. We spotted them celebrating Buffy’s birthday with champagne and nibbling on some chocolate confection while chatting with the steady stream of well wishers, like Harper’s Bazaar editor Glenda Bailey.

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John Sykes, Jared Kushner & Moguls on the Make

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Sometimes it’s the random celebrity sighting like recent visitors Michael Douglas and Glenn Close that gives Michael’s that jolt of adrenaline during our weekly Wednesday visits. And sometimes it’s the sheer power quotient of the dining room that gets our attention. As one regular told me: “I can always tell who is looking for money and who is writing the checks when I come here. It’s the best business scorecard around.”

Today I was joined by power publicist Catherine Saxton, who knows just about everybody but never spins and tells, and Richard Smullen, co-founder and CEO of Beezag and AdGenesis. We had a fascinating chat about the ‘wild west’ of Internet advertising and how absolutely maddening those unwanted pop-up ads are. When Richard launched Beezag last November with Laurent Alhadeff, they created a different kind of online advertising environment which they’ve cleverly coined as ‘Me-commerce.’ Richard explains beezag’s consumer-centric marketing concept this way: “It’s about relevancy and reward. Consumers watch entertaining branded content and video ads they love and get discounts they deserve because they’re thanked with special offers and incentives from advertisers.”

By matching brands to the consumers who want to hear about them, Richard reports that beezag delivers clients an average of 25 percent click-through rates. The members-only, opt-in multi-platform community has some pretty serious brainpower behind it. Richard tells me his ‘executive council’ of advisors includes Gerry Byrne, Wenda Millard, Michael Kassan and Bob Friedman. For someone who just landed in New York from South Africa in January of last year, Richard seems to have figured out pretty quickly how to make things happen in Manhattan. We’re impressed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Boy wonder Jared Kushner with his dad Charles, presiding over a table full of movers and shakers. The New York Observer owner must have had some big deal brewing, because he stepped outside several times to take a very important call. Or perhaps it was just the missus, Ivanka Trump, asking what to make for dinner.

2. My friend and PR maven extraordinaire Lisa Linden and former Bush administration advisor Charles Millard, celebrating the launch of Charles’ new venture specializing in pension funds and financial services, Cardinal Advisors.

3. Catherine Saxton, Richard Smullen and yours truly

4. LVMH’s David Anton

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Lunch: Hoda Kotb, Dan Abrams & George Stephanopoulos Brave the St. Pat’s Crowds

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The hardcore Michael’s regulars weren’t about to let a little thing like the Saint Patrick’s Day parade get in the way of their power lunch today. After a slow start, the dining room filled up nicely with plenty of media mavens and talking heads. The Today show’s Hoda Kotb was among the first to arrive and looked smashing in her emerald floral sheath by Adrienne Papel. “I’m meeting Dan Abrams, but he’s coming from downtown so I hope he makes it,” said Hoda, having made her way through the few thousand extra people clogging up the sidewalks on the East Side.

With Kathie Lee Gifford on vacation this week, Hoda has been enjoying something of a television time warp with her guest co-hosts. On Monday, she was joined by Beverly Hills 90210‘s resident good guy Jason Priestley, Growing Pains‘s Kirk Cameron came by on Tuesday, and his TV dad Alan Thicke was today’s blast from the past. “Tomorrow, Ralph Macchio from The Karate Kid is coming in and Friday it’s Andrew Shue. I’m having a lot of fun.” Turns out Hoda is something of a sitcom aficionado and can easily reel off her TV favorites from days gone by: “I loved Growing Pains, Who’s The Boss, Rhoda, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” We could have talked about iconic TV hits forever, but luckily Dan did make it uptown and lunch went on as planned.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. This year’s “Kelly Gang” contingent: New York Post‘s media man Keith Kelly with a table full of revelers, including Jim Kelly, Tom Kelly, and Kelly Delaney.

2. George Stephanopoulos and David Anton. I caught George on his way to his table to ask who he thought should take his Sunday morning seat. “I don’t know!” he said with a smile and dashed off before I could get in a follow-up.

3. Margo McNabb Nederlander and another stylish blonde gal we didn’t recognize

4. Hoda Kotb and Dan Abrams

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