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Posts Tagged ‘Ira Yoffe’

Lunch: Michael Douglas Turns Heads; Rudy & Judy Giuliani Go Low Profile

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I got an early Christmas present at Michael’s today when I got the chance to chat with one of my favorite actors, Michael Douglas, who has been something of a regular in the dining room this fall since coming back to town to film Wall Street 2. When the Oscar winner arrived and strode purposefully to his table, every head in the place turned. Unlike plenty of A-listers who can barely conceal their impatience for having to deal with mere mortals, he couldn’t have been more gracious when I went over to say hello.

A few years ago, we worked together on The Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars where he presented an award to designer Nino Cerruti His then-fiancee, now his wife, Catherine Zeta Jones, was also there to present to glamour guys Mark Badgley and James Mischka. When I told him the paps are still raking it in from the images taken then of the glam couple on the red carpet, he just laughed. “How is Nino?” he asked before I could ask him about his work on Wall Street 2. When the conversation finally turned to the highly anticipated sequel, I got the scoop on what we can expect from the story and his character, the Machiavellian money man Gordon Gekko. “It was very exciting and a lot of fun to be back. He’s been in prison so he’s a lot darker now, and he’s written a book about the financial world,” said Michael. “It’s set in 2007, so it’s about his predictions on what’s going to happen. It’s very interesting.” Is greed still good? We’re guessing not.

I’ve gotten to meet lots of interesting folks since I first began reporting on the scene at Michael’s three years ago and there’s none nicer than Ira Yoffe, who joined me for lunch today to talk about his exciting new venture. After spending 29 years with Parade — the last nine as vice president, creative director, and head of its in-house advertising agency — Ira is striking out on his own. He’s launching Yoffe Media Group in January because, he says, the time has never been better for entrepreneurial creative businesses. “Last fall, when budgets were being cut, money on creative was one of the first things to go. This is the time to re-invest in promoting your product.” Ira plans to run his “virtual agency” without costly overhead by putting together creative teams comprised of talented freelancers wherever they may be. On Friday, he’ll be inking a partnership deal with Rosica Strategic Public Relations. “There is no need for talent and creativity to be limited by location or the limits of outdated technology,” he told me. “Now, more than ever before, it’s possible for clients to benefit from work that is being produced by the best and the brightest in the world.” He expects that his agency-without-walls philosophy will result in “a better quality of work” and the ability to “pass the savings on to the client.” Sounds like a winning strategy to us.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Late arriving producer Joel Silver and a table full of holiday revelers including, we hear, his wife and son.

2. Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Don Welsh (Long time no see!)

4. The New York Observer’s resident newlywed Jared Kushner (Mazel tov!) and Steve Rubenstein

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Lunch: Charlie Rose, Dan Abrams & The Rain-Soaked Usual Suspects

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The biblical rain kept most of the moguls and media mavens away today. So, rather than people watch, I passed the time by flipping through the latest issue of Avenue featuring an ultra-glam Katie Couric on the cover. The glossy devotes eight (!) pages to the CBS Evening News anchor and photographed her dripping in diamonds and sporting gowns by red carpet favorites Alberta Ferretti and Monique Lhuiller. Interviewed by Law & Order SVU‘s Mariska Hargitay, Katie says, “Looking sexy is not my goal when I’m at work.” Obviously, it’s a different story when she’s not sitting behind the anchor desk.

I lunched today with my longtime pal Trica Jean-Baptiste, who is the principal of her own public relations firm specializing in the travel and tourism industries. We met years ago through New York Women in Communications (NYWICI) where she served on the board. Trica brought along another NYWICI member, Ross Ellis, who works on the organization’s tireless Matrix committee. We all agreed that Brian Williams will be a fabulous host for next year’s Matrix Awards. Remember Rosie O’Donnell‘s disastrous expletive-fueled turn at hosting a few years back? We’ll never forget it — and we’ve tried. Besides working on Matrix, Ross helms the not-for-profit group, Love Our Children USA, which works to end abuse and educate families about stopping violence against children. The organization has been going strong for eleven years and Ross, who was an abused child herself, has garnered the support of an impressive roster of celebrities including Bette Midler and Elton John. Both have donated great items for the group’s online auction going on right now at charityfolks.com. (Get your bids in soon, because it ends Friday.) These days, Ross is hard at work on next year’s National Love Our Children Day which is scheduled for April 10. Mark your calendars!

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. Nielsen’s Gerry Byrne and Fox5′s Greg Kelly

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and HarperCollins’ publisher Jonathan Burnham. I couldn’t wait to get some dish-y morsel about Sarah Palin‘s new book Going Rogue due November 17. “What was the most surprising thing about working with her?” I asked. Jon deferred with a wry smile saying, “My lips are sealed.” I guess we’re going to have to wait for her appearance on Oprah the day before the book is released for the scoop. Here’s hoping the former governor includes a Wednesday lunch at Michael’s on her itinerary for what’s sure to be a whirlwind media tour.

4. Dan Abrams (in jeans!) and John Josephson

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Lunch: Power Blondes Rule! Katie Couric, Tina Brown and Barbara Walters Hold Court

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Today at Michael’s, they were dishing like it was 2007. As if the head-spinning assortment of media alpha gals (Katie! Tina! Barbara!) wasn’t enough to keep us busy, the dining room, bar and lounge was jam-packed with mavens and moguls of all stripes who barely made time to peck at their Cobb salads between all the table-hopping. It was hard to keep up! I made my rounds in the dining room to check in with the regulars, and all anyone wanted to know was ‘Who else is here today?’ (I’ve always thought this place was just like a high school cafeteria, but with better clothes.) Plenty of heads turned when Katie Couric breezed in sporting a chic, shorter ‘do and a pretty polka dot summer dress. The woman sitting next to me whispered, “She looks 35!” We have to agree. I caught Katie on her way to her table just long enough to ask what she has planned for her summer vacation next month. No trips to Wasilla for the CBS News’ anchor: “I’m going to the beach with my daughters to enjoy my time with them before Ellie goes off to college!”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Katie Couric, Lifetime’s CEO Andrea Wong, Deborah Roberts, Sherrie Westin and Cynthia McFadden

2. Jeanine Pirro with publicist Adam Schiff and an unidentified bespectacled gal. I hadn’t talked to Jeanine since I profiled her for Westchester magazine last fall on the eve of the premiere of her show, Judge Jeanine. With one season under her robe, Jeanine is thrilled — “We’re in syndication now!” Life must be pretty good for the former Westchester DA — she was tan and dressed to the nines, toting a gorgeous alligator bag.

3. The ladies who lunch: Somers Farkas (in Pucci) with three other social swans

4. Barbara Walters and Diana Taylor

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Lunch: Hoda Kotb & Bravo’s Housewives Hold Court

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was SRO at Michael’s today, and although the place was filled to the brim with movers and shakers of every stripe, all eyes were on table one: Today‘s Hoda Kotb presided over a raucous lunch with a trio of Real Housewives from Bravo’s compulsively watchable franchise. Tongues wagged aplenty as the crowd watched the reality TV stars saunter in. First to arrive was Tamra Barney (Orange County) with her husband Simon, followed by NeNe Leakes (Atlanta). Danielle Straub (New Jersey) was, of course, the last to arrive — all the better to make a grand entrance. The gals have been guest-hosting Today‘s fourth hour this week, filling in for the vacationing Kathie Lee Gifford.

I just had to make my way over to their table to chat with the headline-making Danielle, who just last night precipitated a catfight for the ages on the season finale of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. As faithful fans of the series know, Danielle’s former life as a stripper who ran with a bad crowd was chronicled in Cop Without A Badge, written, she says, by an ex-husband more than two decades ago. Since then, Danielle reinvented herself and settled in suburbia hoping to keep the past buried. Lucky for Bravo, her frenemies on the show discovered her story, and the fur started flying. Last night, things came to a head when Danielle confronted the other Housewives about their role in bringing the long-forgotten tome to town.

I asked Danielle if the Sopranos-style last supper where everyone gathered for a ‘friendly’ dinner had been staged. “Of course,” she said. “Why else would I have been invited?” Things got really ugly when Teresa Giudice started letting the profanities fly in front of Danielle’s two young daughters and the group ganged up on her. Despite putting up a strong front, Danielle told me the episode “ripped her apart” and afterward, she and her girls retreated to her home where they stayed curled up in her bed for a few days. “We were sick from it, and it was the one place we felt safe.” But, like the tough survivor she is, the breakout star of the series is back with a vengeance with plans to write a book (“It will be something empowering to help women”) and is being repped by Maura Teitelbaum at Abrams Artists Agency. According to Danielle, her daughters have adjusted to the limelight nicely. Her eldest, Christine, is fielding offers from modeling agencies, including Elite. And get this — she says if Bravo wants a second season, she’s there. “Oh my God, of course I’d do it!”

I was glad I was lunching today with my new friend Dr. Phillip Romero, who specializes in family and couple’s therapy. Phil is currently hard at work on two books, Phantom Stress and The Art of Impermanence. I asked him why we like to watch these reality shows that are such spectacles of dysfunction. “It’s voyeurism that makes us feel better about ourselves,” says Phil. These days when “our collective anxiety is higher than at any other time in human history” because of the “sweeping changes occurring at all levels of society” Phil says these shows offer a diversion, “a media quick fix” that takes our mind off the serious issues at hand. Makes sense to me.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Today‘s Hoda Kotb, producer Tammy Filler, Bravo’s Real Housewives NeNe Leakes, Tamra Barney (with husband Simon), and Danielle Straub.

2. Andrew Stein with a distinguished dark-haired gent we didn’t recognize

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Glamour editrix Cindi Leive rocking a LBD and pearls. Joe tells me he’s off to Cuba on a ‘humanitarian mission’ for a few weeks. Safe travels, and we’ll see you when you return!

4. Esther Newberg and Jeffrey Toobin. We caught Jeff on CNN the other day deconstructing the effect of David Letterman‘s joke about Sarah Palin‘s daughter. While the other pundits debated whether the former vice presidential nominee’s daughters were fair game, Jeff weighed in by saying he thought Letterman crossed the line by calling Governor Palin’s look ‘slutty.’ Chivalry is not dead after all…

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Lunch: Andre Leon Talley Stops By — and Hugh Jackman is Coming Tonight!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Our invitation to tonight’s party for Joel Grey hosted by Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborah Lee Furness, must have gotten lost in the mail. Oh well. The dining room was jam-packed with the Wednesday regulars in action, so there was plenty to keep us entertained. I was also happy to catch up with some pals I hadn’t seen in a while. When my friend Andre Leon Talley swept through the door resplendent in a rose-hued Prada coat and “raspberry velvet” custom-made Manolo Blahnik sandals, I was thrilled that he had time for a chat before joining George Malkemus for lunch.

I just had to ask him what he thought about Morley Safer‘s segment on Anna Wintour that aired on 60 Minutes a few weeks back. “I was really impressed with their research,” said Andre, who reported that the show spent weeks at Vogue‘s offices and trekked to Europe for the collections to cover Anna in action and get many of fashion’s most famous faces to weigh in on her decades-long reign at the style bible. We both agreed that Morley sounded a wee bit contemptuous of the players and the game. The newsman’s occasional barbs thrown into the piece — including an observation that Karl Lagerfeld dressed like Count Dracula (“He’s had that look for eight years!”) and that all Vogue‘s young staffers have to be skinny — were “a bit dismissive,” said Andre. (I did love when Anna said that on a recent trip to Minnesota she found most of the folks resembled “little houses.”) Andre reports Anna was “thrilled” with the piece. “It’s 60 Minutes — she was on the same show as Secretary Gates. It was fabulous,” proclaimed Andre.

Today, he was taking a break between the resort presentations that designers were hosting around town in their showrooms this week. “The resort shows are fabulous,” he reports. “It’s become a much more interesting season where people are really doing some fabulous things.” Among the highlights so far: Diane von Furstenberg‘s “Going to Rio”-inspired collection with everything a girl needs all packed into one bag (“It’s her best collection in three years”), Zac Posen‘s ruched silk lame jeans and “major” shoes — especially the sexy lace d’Orsay numbers. Andre also gave high marks to Michael Kors‘ batik prints. “There are a lot of great clothes and great items that women will want to buy.” Music to a lot of retailers’ ears, no doubt.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Conde Nast’s Lou Cona and the dashing Daniel Lalonde, president and CEO of Louis Vuitton, presiding over a table full of movers and shakers.

2. Peter Brown

3. Judith Verno

4. Stephen Swid and a blonde gal we didn’t recognize

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Lunch: Special Fashion Week Edition

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— DIANE CLEHANE

These days, you just never know who you’re going to meet on Wednesdays at Michael’s. If we’d come yesterday, we would have been able to chat with Willem Dafoe. Oh well. This being New York Fashion Week, I was thrilled when Donna Karan came in. I was happy to catch up with my former boss (I once toiled as her flack during her heyday at Anne Klein) and add to the praise she’s been getting for her show earlier this week. When I asked her if she’s seen the glowing review Cathy Horyn wrote in this morning’s Times, she replied with a smile. “That was a surprise!” Not to her most fervent fans, though. Donna’s gorgeous jackets and draped skirts that are sure to be on plenty of well-dressed city gals come next fall hearkened back to her 80s heyday without looking at all retro. While everyone else is referencing the decade of giant shoulder pads (Is anyone really going to wear them again?) and DayGlo brights, Donna has managed to make everything look thoroughly modern and beautiful. Bravo!

I was lunching at the bar with fellow People scribe and soul sister Natasha Stoynoff when Ed Victor came up for a chat. Our favorite uber agent told us he was meeting Fugees producer/rapper John Forte and his lawyer Aarti Tandon. Here’s a tantalizing tale: John was one of 14 people who got a presidential pardon from departing President George W. Bush. John received a 14-year sentence in 2000 for drug trafficking when he was caught with two suitcases of liquid cocaine worth $1.4 million in Newark Airport. Carly Simon and Senator Orrin Hatch (now there’s an odd couple) both championed his release, says Ed. Now, he’s blogging about his experiences for Tina Brown on The Daily Beast, and Ed is shopping a book about his adventures in and out of jail. Sounds like a page-turner to us…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Bonnie Timmerman and Richard Belzer

2. Peter Brown and a young bespectacled gent

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Dorothy Kallins

4. My pal, Inside Edition anchor Deborah Norville and CBS Television’s Bob Madden. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Deb, so I went over to chat, and we laughed about how busy the dining room is despite empty tables all over town. “This place is the cafeteria for the LinkedIn set,” she laughed. So true ….

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Lunch at Michael’s: Peggy Siegal: ‘I Want It Now’

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgPerhaps it was the schizophrenic weather that kept most of the familiar faces and celebrity diners away. It was a pretty subdued crowd at 55th & Fifth today. No big stars of stage, screen and nary an editor in sight. (Okay, Kathie Lee Gifford was there.) Since there wasn’t much star gazing to do, lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane was left with plenty of time to chat with some regulars and learned this fun fact from a longtime staffer who managed to satisfy our celeb craving for the day: Did you know that actress Gretchen Mol (last seen in The Notorious Bettie Page) once worked as the coat check girl? Legend has it that CAA’s George Lane (who was dining today with Jean Doumanian) discovered the one time Vanity Fair cover girl on one of his visits to the restaurant. It got us thinking — perhaps our salad nicoise was served up today by a future Oscar winner. Food for thought …

The rundown:

1. The early shift: Hallmark TV president Henry Schleiff and CNN honcho Jim Walton (who picked up the check). Round two: Peggy Siegal who did her usual round of glad-handing before settling in with two colleagues — but not before telling the staff: “We have to order now!” The hyper-busy trio spent much of the meal on their phones talking to other folks. Oh, the pressure!

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