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Posts Tagged ‘George Stevens’

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: Dishing on the Oscars & Obama

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— DIANE CLEHANE

As I’ve been reporting for weeks, it was SRO at Michael’s today as the movers and shakers, undeterred by the unsettling economic news, were out in full force plotting their next big move — or looking for a safe place to land. On the menu today: plenty of talk about President Barack Obama‘s speech last night and the Oscars. There was a strong consensus that one was a big winner, while the other got surprisingly mixed reviews. While everyone in the audience on Oscar night thought Hugh Jackman killed, plenty of folks here were less than impressed. “Movie people don’t like Broadway,” sniped one Hollywood insider. “And it was too Broadway.” Okay then…

Everyone I talked to about President Obama’s speech felt his oratory skills are nothing short of amazing and that he struck just the right tone where he basically told us its time to pay the piper and think of our children’s future. Personally, I was impressed at his unflappable ability to mix his formal and seemingly off-the-cuff remarks with ease — and he didn’t even blink when he forgot to follow protocol and let House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduce him. She had to stop him mid-sentence, but he never faltered. Talk about cool under pressure. But here’s what wowed the women in the dining room — his affectionate introduction of the First Lady Michelle Obama and her mouthing, ‘I love you’ back to her smitten husband. “They’re marriage is obviously hot,” one divorcee told me. I’m telling you, no one wants to admit it, but that’s what people are really talking about.

As for the president’s remarks, “Inspirational but realistic,” is how one media summed things up. Others were scratching their heads asking why Wall Street wasn’t feeling the same way. More than one person said, “With everyone feeling a little bit hopeful, I don’t get why the market is down.” (It had dropped by more than 100 points by lunch). A question for the ages, no doubt.

On a much lighter note, I asked the always dapper Dr. Gerald Imber what he thought of the Botox-ed beauties on Oscar’s red carpet. But this plastic surgeon to the stars never cuts and tells — “I didn’t watch,” he confessed. He laughed when I asked him why he’d pass up the chance to admire his handiwork and did offer his assessment on why movie stars make better plastic surgery patients than mere mortals: “They come in with headshots saying, ‘I’ve changed a little here, I want to fix this here.’ They know what they want. There’s no whining.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Andy Bergman. Here’s a fun fact: A little birdie told me that Andy wrote the screenplay for Blazing Saddles. Now you know…

2. Hallmark honcho Henry Schleiff with two other well-dressed fellows

3. No one puts a lunch together like ‘The Mayor’: Joe Armstrong, Glamour editrix Cindi Leive, George Stevens and Kerry Kennedy. I was thrilled to meet George (who was sporting a very patriotic red, white and blue shirt and tie ensemble). He’s the man behind the television broadcast of the Kennedy Center Honors and the amazing broadcast of the concert on the Mall in celebration of President Obama’s inauguration. Kerry and I met once before at a lunch given by Henry Schleiff in this very dining room, where we talked about her then yet-to-published book, Being Catholic Now. I was so fascinated by her interviews with the likes of Bill Maher and Gabriel Byrne (who spoke about being abused by a priest) that I got through the terrific tome twice. Today the conversation was all about how stirring and inspirational the group found the president’s speech last night. “It made me proud to be an American,” Kerry told me. And we both totally melted over the young school girl who was seated next to the First Lady having written to the White House looking for aid for her school, which is in a serious state of disrepair. “I had tears in my eyes,” said Kerry. She wasn’t the only one…

4. An early-arriving Matt Blank who chatted with Joe and I before The New Yorker‘s David Remnick and Lisa Hughes joined Showtime’s head honcho for lunch. I was happy to reconnect with Lisa. Way back when, she was my sales rep at Self when I was the marketing honcho for a fashion company. I knew then that Lisa was destined for big things at Conde Nast, and she’s risen through the ranks like the pro she is. Well done and congrats!

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FBLA Goes to the Party: Weisberg Book Party

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Slate’s Jacob Weisberg read from his new book The Bush Tragedy at a Domino-sponored shindig in Brentwood. 300 guests stormed Arianna Huffington’s mansion house. (Or home, as the invitations read.)

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Adrian Grenier, sporting a beard that would have been a bushy tragedy on anyone else, Tracey Ullman, who does a wicked Arianna herself, and Christine Lahti represented SAG; Dale Launer and Stephen Gaghan were the WGA/DGA guys, and producers were thick on the ground with Lawrence Bender, Mike Medavoy, Irina Medavoy, Sam Goldwyn and George Stevens. Matt Groening had the animation arena all to himself.

Jim Ledbetter gave Arianna a copy of his new collection for Penguin–Karl Marx’s Dispatches for the New York Tribune, stopping her as she was enroute to her office. Gabe Snyder got the story behind her distracted expression: book deadline! (Who else was in the study, anyway?)

Usual coterie of LA media types–Mickey Kaus, Carla Hall, Kevin Roderick, Nick Goldberg, Kim Serafin, Ruth Shalit, Rob Barrett, Roman Genn–let’s move on, shall we?

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Weisberg’s clever wife, Deborah Needleman (she edits Domino) brought her Conde Nast cohorts along–Clemmy Closson and Beth Brenner.

Oscars were discussed perfunctorily, Obama enthusiastically (Rachel Sklar’s cries of plagiarism! were dismissed as business as usual which means those dissing her didn’t read very closely. Or else they were drunk.) Plenty of food and drink, which is unusual for book parties–and lots of copies of the book which looks like a fast read. No need to send it out for coverage.

(photos by Stefanie Keenan for Patrick McMullan)

Lunch at Michael’s: Joan Rivers Keeps An Eye On The Door

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgIt was a typically atypical lunch crowd today at Michael’s — Tom Brokaw here, Joan Rivers there, Cobb salads everywhere — making the Diet Cokes and Pellegrinos go down like fine wine. A quartet of Rubensteins — Howard, Richard, Steve and Atoosa &#151 dined at four separate tables, while the Michael of Michael’s, Michael McCarty, explained to us the finer points of Michael’s New York vs. Michael’s Santa Monica. “Fridays and Saturdays are big in L.A.,” he told us. “In New York, it’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.”

See, New York is so badass, we need the weekend to recover from the week. Suck it, Hollywood!

The table-by-table breakdown:

1: Tom Brokaw, looking very Tom Brokaw-like, with George Stevens.

2: David Patrick Columbia with Jen Goodkind and Jayne Chase of “‘The Fashionable Life,’ WGCH in Greenwich, 1490 on your AM dial.”

3: Mayor of Michael’s Joe Armstrong and Men’s Health‘s Dave Zinczenko, who were in an uncharacteristically serious-looking discussion, pausing often to meet and greet passersby.

4: Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

5: Allen & Co. fortune heir Terry Kramer and her son-in-law.

6: Lunch at Michael’s regulars Peter Rogers (happy birthday!), Alex Hitz, Bill Rondina, Tom Fallon and Brooke Hayward Duchin.

7: Joan Rivers, long-time agent Billy Sammeth and always-affable VH1 Best Week Ever producer Fred Graver.

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