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Posts Tagged ‘Harold Holzer’

David Pecker Holds Court; David Zaslav Jumps the Shark

1003_mockup.gifIt’s been a head-spinning summer of celebrity sightings and media maven mashups at 55th and Fifth, but today at Michael’s the mogul quotient was completely off the charts. I knew it was going to be one of those days when Discovery Communications honcho David Zaslav sauntered into the dining room sporting shades and carrying a stuffed shark. Oh, hadn’t you heard? The net’s Shark Week kicks off August 4. Funny enough, David was lunching with William Morris Endeavor’s co-CEO Ari Emanuel. I’ll let you insert your own joke here.

I was sitting squarely in the center of gravity with David Pecker and David Zinczenko and the experience was akin to being a fly on the wall to the lunchtime version of ‘This is your life, David Pecker,” as friends (too many to mention), former colleagues (ditto) and well-wishers (everyone else in the room), stopped by to pay their respects and get some face time with AMI’s chairman and CEO. (“I’m definitely going to call you about that, thanks!”) It was something akin to The Godfather without the tuxes, mumbling and cannolis (David opted for the ‘Michael’s burger and ‘Zinc’ had the Korean tacos).

Zinc (in the interest of clarity, I’ll refer to David Zinczenko by the catchy moniker of his book imprint) has garnered plenty of headlines this year with his highly publicized alliance with AMI, his Random House contract and a new deal with ABC (he’s got his first segment on “20/20″ airing this Friday). David has maintained, by comparison, a somewhat low profile — except for the fact that he was a contender for the top spot at Time Inc. this spring. AMI’s affable chairman (I discovered this man knows everyone — and I mean everyone) has opted to mostly let his game-changing decision of hiring Zinc and the success at the newsstand with his myriad of titles do the talking.

David Pecker, Diane Clehane and David Zinczenko

Fresh off the quarterly AMI board meeting in Connecticut this weekend, there was plenty to dish about over lunch. As you undoubtedly know, AMI publishes, National Enquirer, Star, Globe, OK!, the newly revitalized Men’s Fitness, Muscle and Fitness, Flex, Fit Pregnancy and Shape and several other titles which reach a combined audience of more than 60 million readers every month.  With the birth of the royal baby and the can’t-make-this-stuff-up New York City mayor’s race, I just had to ask David what his tabloid titles have in store. Plenty, as you might expect, but each title addresses a very different constituency. When it comes to news about the royal baby, the ubiquity of the coverage poses a challenges says David.

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Summer’s Social Swans, Kim Kardashian’s BFF and the Woman Behind Mad Men

1003_mockup.gifWhere else could you possibly find friends of reality stars (Come on, you can’t expect an A-lister sighting every week) and the last vestiges of Cafe Society all in one room? If it’s Wednesday, at Michael’s, of course. I couldn’t even begin to do justice to the head-spinning scene there today, so I’ll just let the roster of what passes for celebrity sightings these days speak for itself.

I was so excited about today’s lunch, because I was meeting the woman responsible for greenlighting one of my favorite shows, Mad MenChristina Wayne has had an amazing career  – she also is responsible for getting Breaking Bad on air — and I found her story fascinating. Had it not been for Christina’s spot-on instincts, Matt Weiner‘s script, which had been floating around for eights years at that point, might not ever have seen the light of day.  The former AMC senior vice-president of scripted series and mini-series is now president of Cineflix Studios and executive producer of the new BBC America series, Copper — but I’m getting ahead of myself.

A born and bred New Yorker who grew up on the Upper East Side, Christina decided to move back after 12 years in Los Angeles for personal reasons in 2005 (“There was no one left to date!”) and after receiving a call from a friend asking if she’d be interested in working with AMC. Up until that point, the network was pretty much airing nothing but old movies. “I had no idea what AMC was. I thought he was talking about the movie theater chain,” said Christina. Back then, the basic cabler was looking to develop scripted content; Christina signed on as a consultant as the net’s “creative voice,”  but didn’t want to tell her screenwriter friends since, at the time, working in television seemed like a step down and “an embarrassment.”

Diane Clehane and Christina Wayne
Diane Clehane and Christina Wayne

She started by calling everyone she knew in L.A. and wound up with the script for Broken Trail, a huge hit starring Robert Duvall that got the greenlight in eight days. When she read the script for Mad Men on a flight back from Los Angeles, she knew she had something special. AMC wasn’t able to get a studio to pick it up, so the pilot was self-financed for $3.3 million and the rest, as they say, is television history. Without a huge marketing budget, Christina attributes a lot of Mad Men‘s buzz to the nonstop coverage it received in The New York Times who covered the show from every angle possible. “The show was their lovechild,” she said. And still is, I’d say.

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Charlie Rose, Bonnie Fuller And The Ex-Mr. Star Jones

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We’re a bit spoiled by the back-to-back A-list sightings of the last two weeks (Cate Blanchett! Blake Lively!), so today we had to content ourselves with wondering what the media mavens we haven’t seen in the dining room in ages (Bonnie Fuller) were up to over their Cobb Salads.

Well, at least things were pretty lively at my table. I was joined by Dr. Phillip Romero who I was introduced to in this very dining room by our mutual friend, Cablevision’s Barry Frey. I couldn’t wait to get the good doctor’s take on Charlie Sheen and the ongoing media freak show that shows no sign of slowing down. Phil told me he agreed with Celebrity Rehab’s Dr. Drew Pinsky‘s diagnosis that Sheen is bipolar. Based on his exhibiting symptoms of “hypomania, grandiosity and hyper sexualization,” says Phil, “That’s clearly what’s going on.”

Phil, who has been counseling individuals and families in crisis for over 25 years and recently published two books, The Art Imperative and Phantom Stress , is “disgusted” by the media’s apparent glee at milking their latest cash cow until it dries up — or dies. ”I am appalled at the media’s vampirizing of mental illness.” One of the worst offenders thus far, says Phil, has been Piers Morgan who, he observes, was encouraging Sheen’s inexplicable behavior during the fallen star’s appearance on the CNN show. “Morgan was clearly enabling Charlie Sheen during his interview and seemingly happy to do so. It made me very uncomfortable. Where are the people that could help this man? If Charlie keeps up at this pace without the help he needs he could become psychotic and harm himself or others.”  Another ratings bonanza in the making.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Most of the Imber Gang, including Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Jeff Greenfield.

2. Abernathy & MacGregor’s Jim Abernathy

3. Producer Francine LeFrak and two well-heeled gal pals.

4. Charlie Rose and a limping Tom Freston.
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Joe Torre, Joan Collins and a Mogul Mashup

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I knew I was in for an interesting afternoon when I saw ’80s icon Joan Collins and former Yankee skipper Joe Torre arrive at Michael’s within minutes of each other. Where else would you possibly expect to run into two icons at the opposite ends of the pop cultural spectrum at lunch in Manhattan? The funny thing was barely anyone noticed. The  crowd was much too busy trying to figure out what all the media moguls were discussing at their tables. Sorry to disappoint, but I can’t read lips so I’m not much help on that front. However, I can report these captains of industry barely took a breath between bites and there were a lot of points being made with forks in the air.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Discovery ID’s head honcho Henry Schleiff, holding court with four important-looking folks

2. Joan Collins, husband Percy Gibson and an unidentified preppie. The Dynasty star was in full diva mode as she sauntered to her table peering out at the crowd from beneath the brim of her gray cowboy hat. Alexis Carrington lives!

3.  For a minute we thought Bono might be stopping by when we heard manager Paul McGuinness had reserved the table, but it turned out his guests were two folks who definitely were not members of U2.

4. Mike Ovitz, talking a blue streak while his lunch date spent much of the time listening with his arms crossed. Whatever could that body language mean?

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