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Posts Tagged ‘George Leeds’

Lunch: Barbara Walters, Frank Langella & Kathie Lee Gifford

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was a tasty mix of media mavens, social types and the random celebrity (Frank Langella was in the house!) on the menu at Michael’s today: The dining room was so packed, they were shoehorning tables in everywhere. I was glad I got there early so I was able to grab some of the regulars on the way to their tables before they got down to some serious dining and dishing. Kathie Lee Gifford was one of the first to arrive, announcing, “Ah, springtime!” as she came through the door. She’s got plenty to smile about these days as her latest book, Just When I Thought I’d Dropped My Last Egg (Ballantine), hit the New York Times bestseller list. I just has to ask Kathie Lee what she thought about her pal Joan Rivers winning The Celebrity Apprentice, besting her arch enemy poker player Annie Duke and the nasty showdown the women had on the finale. “I was thrilled for her. Anyone that knows Joan knows she’s a friend to the end — and any time a 75-year-old wins anything, it’s good for all of us!”

I was lunching today with Alexandra Trower, Estee Lauder’s executive vice president of global communications. This consummate public relations pro has been with the company just over a year now, having made the switch from banking (she was SVP of media relations for Bank of America) to the beauty biz. This week, Alex scored a major hit with a front-page story on Estee Lauder’s new CEO Fabrizio Freda in WWD Beauty Biz. We had a terrific chat about the famous faces and captains of industry we’ve both come to know. It’s amazing what a small world Manhattan can be!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Today show twosome Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb with Kathie Lee’s right-hand gal Christine and Hoda’s chic pal Sunny

2. Literary lioness Lynn Nesbitt and Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong dining with Kerry Kennedy and her charming young daughter Michaela

4. Barbara Walters and Frank Langella

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Lunch: Joy Behar, Star Jones & Another Sarah Palin Doppelganger

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— DIANE CLEHANE

What recession? The joint was jumping at Michael’s today. Media mavens, television types and fashionistas were still trying to digest the week’s head spinning events but, in true New York style, weren’t letting a worldwide tanking economy get in the way of a good time. There was plenty of buzz about last night’s debate — a few folks in the dining room today watched the whole thing go down at Denise Rich‘s house. The verdict: Obama won and will win.

The ‘other side of the aisle’ was more than represented when Loreal Sherman, Michael’s tireless and terrific maitre d’, launched into a dead-on imitation of Gov. Sarah Palin for departing diners Joy Behar and CNN’s Jon Klein. Ducking inside the coat closet after donning some clear square framed glasses and using the door as her debate podium, Loreal had the gathering crowd in stitches as she improvised a performance of Palin’s indelible one-liners from her debate with Joe Biden last week. Afterwards, when I told her I marveled at her ability to do spontaneous stand-up, Loreal confessed she’s a professionally trained performer who once sang at Carnegie Hall. Memo to Tina Fey: You can’t be everywhere, so if you’re ever in need of a stand-in (who even looks like you!) Loreal is your girl. You know where to find her.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Star Jones, who called minutes before noon after “a really important meeting” for a table for herself and her entourage. The mood was pretty upbeat (we overheard Star cracking some Sarah Palin jokes) and there was wine all around. When I asked the usually chatty Star about what she was dishing about with her pals, she slipped on her shades and said, “Business, Business,” before sauntering out with nary a look in Joy Behar’s direction.

2. CBS spinmeister Gil Schwartz (who is always smart enough to make his reservation for Wednesday!) with Madison Square Garden’s human resource honcho John D. Moran.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong sporting his Obama button — and talking (what else?) politics — with Cynthia Brill and major democratic booster Maureen White.

4. New York’s First Lady Michelle Paterson with Alexa Eaton and Debbie Bancroft. Word is Mrs. Paterson is “not pleased” with New York magazine’s cover story on her husband. Well, we’ll say this, the cover line “David Paterson Didn’t Ask For This” was perfect.

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Lunch At Michael’s: Judy Collins Stops By

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Last week we developed some serious whiplash craning around to keep up with the A-listers that table hopped at lunch. Today’s crowd was much more low key with a smattering of regulars dotting a somewhat unfamiliar landscape consisting of business types and the occasional captain of industry who might dazzle in the boardroom but didn’t make for the star gazing we’ve come to expect at 55th & Fifth. After checking in with a few of my favorite folks, I settled into my regular perch at the bar and made the acquaintance of fellow diners Michael and Linda Warfield who were in visiting from California. The Warfields, bemoaning the lack of famous faces they usually see on their regular trips, kept me entertained by sharing stories of Michael’s days as a producer of mall extravaganzas where television stars would meet and greet their devoted fans. Michael gave me the skinny on his favorites (The Dating Game‘s Jim Lange and Dynasty‘s Emma Samms — remember them?) and those who were, shall we say, a bit too high maintenance. (My lips are sealed). Just when I thought this week would mark a first — a celeb-free Wednesday! — I caught a glimpse of Judy Collins swaddled up in a pink pashmina chatting with a snowy haired gent at the door when I was on my way out. Here’s hoping the joint is jumping once again next week.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Imber gang — or at least most of them — Dr. Gerry Imber, Michael Kramer and Jerry Della Femina. Where was Jeff Greenfield?

2. Jonathan Wald.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Men’s Health honcho Dave Zinczenko. The tireless Mr. Z’s new book Eat This, Not That co-authored by Matt Goulding (published by Rodale, of course!) is a fascinating read for those of us (you know who you are) who delude ourselves into thinking as we toast the holidays with that festive holiday Starbucks — “This isn’t that bad.” Reality check: a Venti White Hot Chocolate with whole milk is a whopping 640 calories and 28 grams of fat! And don’t even think of having that cinnamon chip scone — it’s got 490 calories and 25 grams of fat!! The compulsively readable tome (that smartly fits into a tote) does offer healthier alternatives. Young Dave will be on Today tomorrow morning talking all about it …

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Lunch at Michael’s: Presidential Politics & Brian Grazer

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The media mavens, captains of industry and money men were out in full force today where a heaping helping of presidential politics were on the menu. Mayor Joe Armstrong, fresh off his latest trip to Paul Newman‘s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp hosted one of his legendary lunches where his guests were Robert Draper, GQ writer and author of Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush (Free Press), political pundit Jonathan Alter (who deconstructed FDR’s first 100 days in his book, The Defining Moment) and Joan Ganz Cooney. “There are some explosive things in Robert’s book!” says Joe. No doubt. On the other side of the aisle, I learned a fun fact about Estee Lauder’s Sally Susman who stopped to chat with me at the bar. Before she became a beauty bigwig she worked at the White House. Which one? I asked. “The only one,” she quipped. “The Clinton White House!” Of course. Coincidently, Sally was lunching with another Clinton alum, Internet exec. Margo Spiritus, who now toils as Pingg Interactive’s vice president of marketing. Turns out 55th & Fifth is a must-stop on the campaign trial. Are you listening Hillary & Barack?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Mayor Joe Armstrong and the gang.

2. Gerry Byrne.

3. Terry Allen Kramer and her son, who, we hear, made the scene at the US Open this weekend.

4. Viacom’s Philippe Dauman.

5. 60 MinutesSteve Croft, Brian Grazer (thanks to his distinctive ‘do we spotted him immediately) and a fetching mystery gal. We wanted to ask Brian about the upcoming season of 24 which, we’re told, has Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) matching wits with the first female president. But since he kept his back to the room throughout lunch, we abstained.

6. Luke Janklow (loved the charming photos of your family at home in this month’s Vogue!), Michael Soloman and designer Liz Lange.

7. An exec. from Satellite Radio XM, so we’re told…

8. George Leeds and Estee Lauder’s Lew Rice.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Joan Rivers, Deepak Chopra & The Today Gang

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The scene at 55th & Fifth was more subdued than usual today with most of the regulars nowhere to be seen. With an unusually high number of “civilians” milling about, it seemed unlikely we’d get our weekly boldfaced name fix this go round. Imagine our delight when Joan Rivers arrived — party hats and Payard cake in hand — and told us she was hosting a surprise party for Today show producer Amy Rosenblum (she gave the birthday girl her first job in television) and was expecting Matt, Ann and the gang at any minute. While Ms. Curry, Mr. Lauer, Marc Victor and Jonathan Tisch exchanged hellos, I chatted with Today‘s executive producer Jim Bell to get his take on why Katie Couric decided to tell all to New York Magazine for this week’s explosive cover story. “It’s fascinating,” said Jim. “I think it was an honest assessment of what’s going on — but very interesting given the sensitive nature of it all.” Jim says he and his former colleague have a lunch date on the calendar which left us wondering exactly what Katie’s next move in this intriguing saga will be. Stay tuned …

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

1. Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina and another gentleman we didn’t recognize. The newly installed CBS newsman, who left CNN earlier this year, had his first piece for the network air this weekend. “I’m glad to be busy!” he enthused. Greenfield’s take on the Couric saga: “It’s a hard road back. Everybody here is just trying to do the best newscast we can.” The always affable newsman then offered this telling bon mot before dashing back to his table: “I don’t know — it’s above my pay grade!”

2. Rubenstein & Associates’ Caroline Mirenbeger, so we’re told.

3. Joely Hunt (loved the shoes!) and a very stylish gal pal.

4. Radical Thinking’s Bob Friedman with Deepak Chopra (in red Nikes!) and, we’re told, his son.

5. Peter Price and guest.

6. The Today gang and guests (who also took over tables 12 & 16).

7. Not sure …

8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia — looking summery in seersucker — with Alice Mason.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Post-Hasselhoff, All Business

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We’re guessing many of our favorite media celebrity regulars have headed south with their families for spring break or to rev up from the endless winter doldrums that have left us feeling a bit grumpy. Today, the tables were packed with a cross section of Prada and Gucci suits, and the mood was definitely all business. Luckily, we got our boldface name fix Tuesday when lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane broke bread with fashion maven Jaqui Lividini and the bustling dining room brimming with the usually eclectic mix of celebs. We spotted Marlo Thomas, Danny DeVito, Ron Perelman and Tommy Mottola in the mix. Some of the staffers were still buzzing about last week’s visit from David Hasselhoff, who most recently headlined a Las Vegas production of The Producers. Seems “The Hoff” made quite an impression. Says one fan of the tireless showman: “He looks great! If he’s had surgery you can’t tell — and believe me I’ve seen some scary ones in here. The guy is amazing!”

Here’s a rundown of today’s menu:

1. “Men Who Lunch”: BusinessWeek‘s Jon Fine (husband to our own mediabistro.com founder and CEO Laurel Touby), Radar editor Maer Roshan ABC News communications VP Jeff Schneider, Peter Himler, Arnold Huberman, Sirius Satellite Radio pr czar Patrick Reilly, Radar‘s Jeff Bercovici and Magazine Publishers of America’s Howard Polskin.

2. Casual chic: a tweedy Luke Janklow. The uber-agent was lunching with an unidentified jeans-clad beauty.

3. Univision’s Maryann Bannikarim and three guests.

4. Producer Jonathan Hart (Chicago) and four well-dressed gents.

5. Michael Fuchs and a bespectacled fellow who passed the time waiting for him by reading Variety.

6. Glamour editrix Cindi Leive and guests.

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