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Posts Tagged ‘Herb Siegel’

Lara Spencer, John Sykes & Dr. Ruth Ring in the Holidays

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I don’t know whether it was the wintry weather or the holiday decor, but the usual suspects were in a festive mood at Michael’s today. There were air kisses all around the dining room as the movers and shakers mingled while waiting for their lunch dates to arrive.  No sitting at the table glued to their iPhones today! So, rather than observe the random celebrity holding court (I’m really hoping to see Michael Douglas back here in fine form again soon), I watched the regulars launch into celebration mode by trading their ice teas for some red wine. ‘Tis the season!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Andy Bergman and Jeff Greenfield

2. Bloomberg’s Andy Lack

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, who is just back from London, was pulling a double shift by  having two back-to-back lunches. “I’ll have to do double duty through Christmas to catch up!” Joe told me. His noon-time date was O magazine’s  book guru Sara NelsonKerry Kennedy arrived for Act Two.

4. Uber agent Esther Newberg and a sunny looking blonde gal we didn’t recognize.

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Vernon Jordan, Paul Shaffer and Richard Belzer Grab a Bite at Michael’s

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We missed Harvey Keitel (who, we hear, is a pretty nice guy) by a day, but the usual suspects kept things hopping in the dining room at Michael’s today. By now, we’ve grown used to seeing Richard Belzer with his dog Bebe (pronounced Bay-Bay en Francais, in case you were wondering) in tow for his 1 pm lunches every now and again. But we did perk up when Vernon Jordan came in. Talk about presence!

I had a chance to catch up with one of my favorite regulars, ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstong who, when I first started writing this column, made it his personal mission to introduce me to as many movers and shakers as possible. The native Texan with the heart of gold just can’t help himself when it comes to do-good deeds. This afternoon he was full of fire telling me about the upcoming benefit for The Hole in The Wall Gang Camp on October 21 at Lincoln Center. Joe spent seven years as a camp counselor during the summer at the original Connecticut camp — He now proudly bears the title of ‘Mr. Ambassador’ for the organization — and can’t say enough about the kids whose lives are forever changed thanks to Paul Newman. “They make you realize what is really important, ” says Joe.

So, if you want to help continue Newman’s good works and spend an evening rubbing shoulders with Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep, Joanne Woodward and Renee Zellweger, get out those checkbooks and buy a ticket to the gala. Tell them Joe sent you …

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Self‘s Lucy Danziger and some leggy leather clad gals from L’Oreal talking ‘stress management’

2. Law & Order SVU’s Richard Belzer and David Letterman‘s band leader Paul Shaffer

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and O’s book editor Sara Nelson.

4. Leonard Lauder and a casually elegant gal who, upon greeting the cosmetic king exclaimed, “This is the high point of my week!”

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Alex McCord & Simon van Kempen Serve Up Some Tasty ‘Real Housewives’ Dish

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— DIANE CLEHANE

There’s never a dull moment on a Wednesday at Michael’s. When I arrived in the dining room today I spotted LX TV‘s senior executive producer Amy Rosenblum shooting a segment for tonight’s show with host Sarah Gore and Michael’s GM Steve Millington about their famous $36 Cobb Salad. Who says lunch here isn’t about the food?

I had a delightfully dishy lunch with Alex McCord, one of my favorite cast members from The Real Housewives of New York City, her husband Simon van Kempen and their literary agent, my pal Jason Allen Ashlock. The couple is surprisingly down to earth given the histrionics filled season. “We’re trying to prove you don’t have to be an idiot to be on reality television,” says Simon.

At the moment, Alex and Simon are in the middle of their book tour for Little Kids Big City, which is now in its second printing. It’s a well-written, ‘mom-oir’ (as Simon likes to call it) that chronicles their transformation from DINKY (dual income no kids yet) couple to hands-on, working parents of two sons, Francois and Johan. Also in the works are a “relationship book” written in the same ‘he said, she said’ style as Little Kids, a possible cookbook, and Alex tells me she’s penning a “roman a clef about the dark underbelly of reality television.” Watch out Jill Zarin!

I just had to ask Alex what she thought of Jill’s tearful performance at the marathon three-part reunion show, which culminated in Jill basically begging former BFF Bethenny Frankel for a hug. (I’m told the women shot for nine hours with very little down time.) “It was a long day,” says Alex. “I don’t know whether it was genuine or not.” But she didn’t hold back in describing Jill’s backstabbing behavior overall: “When you have nothing else in your life, you can sit around and scheme like a character in Dangerous Liaisons.”

The couple was first tapped by Bravo to appear on what was to be called Manhattan Moms in 2007 before it morphed into The Real Housewives of New York City. “We didn’t know we were going to be paired with bitchy, socialite wannabes,” says Simon. With three seasons behind them, Simon feels Alex “hit her stride” this year. For her part, Alex says her friendships with Ramona Singer, Sonja Morgan, and Bethenny have grown and she’s spoken to all three of them “within the last 48 hours.” No decision has been made about who will be returning next season but Simon says of the couple’s plans, “At this point, it would be silly to not do one more season.”

You can catch Alex at her next New York City book signing on July 6 at Barnes & Noble on Lexington and 86th Street with New Jersey Housewife Caroline Manzo, who be on hand to promote Bravo’s new tell-all on the popular franchise.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

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Liz Lange & Cindi Leive Take a Bite out of the Home Shopping Market

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Evidently, you’re nobody these days unless you’re hawking something on one of those hypnotic home shopping networks. Come on, confess: Who hasn’t bought something that just happened to catch their eye while flipping through the channels looking for Bravo’s wacky Housewives? I chatted with no less than four folks in Michael’s dining room today who have taken to the airwaves to sell ‘style at a price’ to the fashion obsessed right in their living rooms. First, my good pal Dr. Robi Ludwig arrived with her sister Ramy glittering in head to toe bling. I always love how Robi puts herself together for her many television appearances on LX TV and the Today show. That woman really knows how to accessorize! When I complimented her on the stunning gold bib necklace she was wearing, she told me: “It’s from Stefani Greenfield‘s line on HSN!”

When Stefani showed up a few minutes later ladden down with gold, I asked her about the necklace and she reported that none other than Barbara Walters has worn it too. “But not in surgery,” she quipped.

When I wrapped up my chat with Robi, who is jumping ship from QVC to shopnbc where she’ll be expanding her own jewelry line, I stopped by to say hello to Glamour editrix Cindi Leive and designer Liz Lange, who are also part of HSN growing stable of clotheshorses. Read on for more dish about their respective collections.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd

1. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia (in seersucker!) presiding over a table of elegant gals and a bespectacled gent.

2. Author Michael Gross and Maer Roshan. Michael’s latest, Rogue’s Gallery, about the politics and posturing behind the scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is now out in paperback in case you’re looking for a good (and juicy!) beach read.

3. Glamour editrix Cindi Leive and designer Liz Lange. I congratulated Liz on her new line for HSN, Completely Me by Liz Lange, which sold out during its debut a few weeks back (The next show is scheduled for July so get those credit cards ready!). Seems that Glamour is jumping into the home shopping ring with a line of costume jewelry as reported in today’s Wall Street Journal. The piece also reports that the magazine is partnering with Match.com to help its readers find Mr. Right. Impressive.

4. Esther Newberg with a gentleman who was attacking his fries with great gusto.

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Lunch: Tina Brown, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Media Mavens Galore!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

They were dining and dishing like it was 2006 today at Michael’s. When I mentioned to one of the regulars that I hadn’t seen the dining room jam packed with so many power lunchers in a long time, he summed up the scene this way: “People are tired of waiting for the official word that we’re out of the woods so they’re trying to act as if we are. In some ways, it’s working.” In other words, denial is the new black.

A few weeks back, my friend Robert Zimmerman introduced me to Melanie Brandman, founder and CEO of The Brandman Agency, and Diana Biederman, managing director of Blackbird PR. I chatted briefly with the two public relations mavens and today we had our own ‘Michael’s lunch.’ Melanie started her all-female agency in 2000 after serving as vice president of corporate affairs for InterContinental Hotels & Resorts in London where she headed worldwide PR for over 3,000 properties in 100 countries. Today, at the helm of her own agency, she specializes in luxury hotels and lifestyle brands and represents top-tier clients including Qantas Airways, Orient-Express Hotels & Resorts, as well as her former employer. As you might imagine, she’s logged “millions of air miles” on the job and in just the past six months alone has visited India, Morocco, and Barbados multiple times. She recently hosted a group of lucky travel writers on a six-night sojourn aboard the uber luxurious Maharajas’ Express, which travels from Delhi to Kolkata. “Absolutely the best way to see India,” says Melanie. I’ll bet.

Last year, Melanie launched Blackbird PR, a lifestyle subsidiary of The Brandman Agency, and asked Diana, who had been working as public relations director of ’21′ Club for eight years, to head up the company. Of the spin-off Melanie says: “It was a natural progression, because we do a lot of work within the lifestyle divisions of our travel clients. I wanted to keep Brandman as a separate entity.” Things are off to a good start with clients like VOS Selections, whose handcrafted artisanal wines are the brainchild of Victor O. Schwartz and Ray Griffiths Fine Jewelry.

Melanie also tells me she just opened an office in Los Angeles so she could “get more business out of Asia” and squeeze in a few more trips back home to see the family in Australia. Where does she find the time?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Hotshot Hollywood attorney and producer Freddie Gershon with legendary Oscar winning songwriters (“The Way We Were“) Alan and Marilyn Bergman.

2. Peter Brown

3. Howard Rubenstein

4. Allen & Co.’s Stanley Shuman

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Lunch: What Recession? Michael’s Keeps Buzzing with Walter Isaacson, John Sykes & The Gang

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The power lunch lives! While budgets are being slashed all over town, if the media mavens at the top are feeling the pinch, they’re determined not to show it. For the past several weeks, I’ve noticed that Michael’s is back to its pre-Great Recession level of buzz with a packed dining room. The regulars were out in force today along with an impressive array of captains of industry who were no doubt doing a lot more than catching up with old pals.

I was lunching today with Andrew Heyward, who I got to know during his tenure as president of CBS News. Andrew is busier than ever these days consulting for a full slate of companies including Monitor Group and NBC News. I asked him how he felt when the New York Supreme Court’s appellate division threw out Dan Rather‘s $70 million lawsuit against CBS last month. “I’m gratified by the appellate court’s unanimous decision to dismiss the case,” he told me. “I hope this is an opportunity for everyone involved to move on once and for all.” Not everyone seems to share that sentiment. Dan’s lawyer, Martin Gold, told TVNewser he plans to appeal.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Producer Nick Simunek with, we’re told, a table full of showbiz types including the fellow who wrote Love At First Bite.

2. Peter Brown, Shirley Lord, and two other distinguished gentlemen we didn’t know.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Glamour editrix Cindi Leive. Second seating: ICM’s president Chris Silbermann.

4. Showtime’s main man Matt Blank and attorney Alan Grubman. I caught up with Matt on the way out, and we chatted about Toni Collette‘s Emmy win for The United States of Tara. I also asked about one of my favorite shows, The Tudors. Matt tells me they just wrapped production and the show promises to deliver plenty of royal drama in its final season. We’ve been hearing rumors that Showtime’s next dysfunctional dynasty to receive the star treatment will be the Borgias. We can’t wait!

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Lunch: Barbara Walters, Barry Diller & Dana Perino

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I’m glad I got to Michael’s early today because by 12:30 they were literally lining up outside the front door to get in the joint. Even the Garden Room (Siberia to the uninitiated) was SRO. The groups of wannabe diners at the bar and in the lounge were enviously eyeing the tables occupied by the famous and fabulous in the front room as they dined and dished without notice. Who says there’s no class system in America?

Ah, but you know better, and so do the regulars who, despite hurricane winds and the worst traffic we’ve seen all year, found their way to their power perches to see and be seen by Gotham’s glitterati. Perception is reality these days and from where I sat, it’s business as usual for these folks. We spotted Michael Fuchs working the room like nobody’s business, shaking hands with Matt Blank, Jon Tisch and an assortment of moguls who crossed his path. Others, such as Barry Diller, were riveted to the conversation at their own table. Working on some killer deal, no doubt.

I made my way around the jam-packed dining room to check in with my pals. I needed the breathing room since it was elbow to elbow at the bar, and I was seated across from a gleeful foursome who were celebrating something over a few beers. (See, despite what you’ve been reading not everything is gloom and doom). I was happy to stop and chat with Men’s Health honcho David Zinczenko and his former public relations man (and brand new dad to seven-week-old son Benjamin!) Jon Hammond. Jon, who also worked for Conde Nast Traveler, now works for the NBA as senior director of community and player programs communications. Somehow, the three of us got into a lively discussion about the merits of Twitter. “All my guys are doing it,” says Jon of the NBA players he’s working with. I shared that in working on an upcoming story for Variety, I’ve discovered that some pretty high-level folks are saying it’s an effective way “to build a brand.” David, who never misses a thing, had a brainstorm within seconds of hearing our cases for using Twitter professionally. Look for Men’s Health to have its own Twitter feed in the not-too-distant future where readers can join in the conversation about things like the magazine’s highly popular “Eat This, Not That” franchise. Dave also gave me some scoop about some changes afoot in the next issue of Men’s Health: Fans of recently shuttered Best Life (we loved it!) will be happy to hear that, according to Dave, “the best elements of Best Life are being incorporated” into Men’s Health. Makes sense to us. And, Best Life‘s former editor, Stephen Perrine, is now heading up the newly created position of overseeing books from Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines. Congrats!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. A smiling Barry Diller and a bespectacled gent we didn’t recognize…

2. Jonathan Tisch and a dark-haired beauty. Jon had a big hello for Hoda Kotb when he spotted her across the room.

3. Showtime’s main man Matt Blank

4. Barbara Walters deep in conversation with Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s gal pal Diana Taylor

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Lunch: Carl Bernstein: Bush ‘Straight Talk’ Book Would Sell

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Reports of the death of the power lunch are, by the looks of things at Michael’s today, most definitely premature. It will be a sure sign of the apocalypse when the regulars at 55th & Fifth stop showing up to cook up their next big move over burgers and Cobb salads. By the looks of today’s crowd, there was plenty of business being done between bites as media machers, fashion mavens and a few authors of note were deep in conversation. And, reports Michael McCarty, the joint is also jumping after dark. Leonard Lauder took over the Garden Room for a chic soiree last night, and the place is booked with plenty of parties throughout the month. “We’re very fortunate,” says Michael. “We have a very diverse and loyal clientele.” Indeed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Police commissioner Ray Kelly and Tom Kelly. No one was quite sure if these two imposing looking fellows were related, but I’m guessing not since I spotted Tom scribbling furiously in his notebook during lunch…

2. Men’s Health honcho Dave Zinczenko and Glamour editrix Cindi Leive. With all the gloom and doom that abounds and the scarcity of holiday fetes around town, I asked them what they were planning to do for their staffs to brighten spirits. Both said they were planning “very low key” get-togethers somewhere in town. “There’s going to be a pool table and bottles of beer involved,” promises Cindi. Dave also reports that Rodale will be hosting two parties — one here at the New York offices and the other at the company’s Emmaus, Pa. headquarters. No Scrooges here! I just had to ask Cindi what she thought of this morning’s item in The New York Post that she (and Linda Wells) might be in line for the top spot at Vogue should those pesky rumors (denied by Si Newhouse) that Anna Wintour is on the way out. Or, maybe her pal Dave has lured her away for the top spot at Women’s Health. (An announcement about the job is expected any day.) “I’m perfectly happy where I am,” Cindi told me.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Carl Bernstein. I told Carl that I caught All the President’s Men (which he co-wrote with Bob Woodward on the heels of their game-changing coverage of Watergate for The Washington Post all those many years ago) on TMC the other night. “How does it hold up?” he asked me. Pretty well, I told him. “It’s been years since I’ve seen it,” says Carl. I had to ask him what he thought of the reports that the soon to be ex-president wouldn’t exactly incite a bidding war for his memoirs in the months following him leaving office. Carl dismisses the notion that their would be no takers for the book. “Presidents never have difficulty getting their memoirs published,” he told me. Earlier this week, Bush told ABC News’ Charles Gibson that he was “unprepared for war” and said his “biggest regret” was the mistaken claims regarding weapons of mass that lead to the war in Iraq. So does that mean that Bush’s prospective tome might offer some introspection? “Forget introspection,” says Carl. “If he was more forthcoming about his presidency given the amount of withholding of information and level of mendacity, a little straight talk would be good.”

4. Tommy Mottola and an unidentified older gentleman

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Lunch: Jane Fonda & Jerry Seinfeld — That’s Entertainment!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It’s always those random celebrity sightings at Michael’s that make my weekly Wednesday visits much more fun. Today certainly didn’t disappoint. When a little birdie told me Jerry Seinfeld would be holding court on table one today, I knew I was in for it. When he strolled in sporting a baseball cap and jeans, it seemed he was trying to keep a low profile, but as soon as he opened his mouth, every head in the vicinity swiveled in his direction. He pretended not to notice and took a quick look around the dining room before settling in at table one with Trident Media’s Dan Strone. I’m thinking Jerry’s got another book in the offing. If not, he might have gotten an idea for one by the time lunch was over — every time I glanced his way, I got the distinct impression he was gathering material. He looked more than a little amused at the scene as the rest of the crowd strained to check him out on the sly. Across the room, Jane Fonda (who made her second appearance of the week) also opted for a low profile, hiding behind her shades for much of her lunch with Pat Mitchell — then the gals ducked out early. But not before my pal Beverly Camhe got a chance to chat with Jane about a possible appearance at the Center for Peace in Berlin. Then, the tireless Bev joined me at the bar and gave me the scoop on the hit of the Hamptons Film Festival (she’s on the advisory board) — the new documentary from two Australian filmmakers on Dominick Dunne. Bev reports that Dominick flew in just for the premiere and was “very moved” by the film. “He was thrilled,” says Bev. “He was nervous beforehand because it was an act of faith since he didn’t know these guys. It turned out great and everyone loved it.” We’re thrilled for Nick. Congrats!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Jerry Seinfeld and Trident Media’s Dan Strone

2. Peter Brown, Frank Bowling and pals

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Sotheby’s Jamie Niven

4. Arnold Scaasi (who felt compelled to prune the bountiful fall arrangement behind his table before sitting down), Parker Ladd and a gal named Judy, so we’re told …

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