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Posts Tagged ‘Jacqui Safra’

Harvey Weinstein Leads the Movie Mogul Charge

1003_mockup.gif Any Michael’s regular worth his or her weight in Cobb salad knows that on any given Wednesday you can find the who’s who of media in the dining room. Today we spotted a talking head (Andrew Ross Sorkin) and bestselling authors (Linda Fairstein, Karin Slaughter) but were really struck by the Hollywood on the Hudson feel of today’s lunch. Everywhere you looked there were movie moguls (Who’s hotter than Harvey Weinstein at this moment?) and studio suits breaking bread with money men (read: possible investors), we’re sure, in hopes of cooking up some big deal. We’ve noticed that there is an increasing number of movie moguls (both real and the wannabe variety) making the scene on Wednesday lately, which may account for the marked uptick in glad handing and air kissing.

I was just about to sit down with my lunch date, producer Thierry Daher to talk about his new film, God Save My Shoes and the film’s publicist Miriam Driot when producer Beverly Camhe came over to introduce me to Shawn Bercuson who, she noted, “was the talk of Sundance.” It turns out that Shawn, one of the original members of the team that started Groupon, launched a new site last year  perfect for the new ways we watch movies. Prescreen.com is a curated video on demand platform designed to promote and showcase premium content. Shawn tells me the site is the first to provide long form premium content through Facebook Open Graph intergration in the U.S. When he was at Sundance, he discovered there was no platform for aggregating the festival’s trailers and viola! Now there is. When I introduced him to Thierry, they had plenty to talk about, and by the time the group adjourned to our respective tables everyone had each other’s business cards. Who needs Los Angeles?

I was eager to hear the story behind Thierry’s latest documentary which explores the fascinating relationship between women and their shoes. His previous release, Just for Kicks, explored the sneaker phenomena and the origins of Nike Air Force One and Air Jordans. “It’s not the athletes that make these shoes so popular,” Thierry told me of his discovery. “It’s the hip hop and rap stars.” To wit: Just For Kicks featured Reverend Run, Missy Elliot and Grandmaster Caz. In light of the fact that this was his second documentary on footwear, I just had to ask him  if he had some kind of a foot fetish. Nope, he said. “I’m very curious about other people’s obsessions.” As a recovering Manolo Blahnik addict, I was more than intrigued. Its turns out the idea for God Save My Shoes came to Thierry while he was making Just For Kicks. When he learned that Damon Dash owned hundreds of pairs of sneakers, the thought occurred to him: If this is what the guys have in their closets, God only knows what their wives own. Clearly, he was on to something.

Diane Clehane, Thierry Daher and Miriam DroIt
Diane Clehane, Thierry Daher and Miriam Driot

Thierry told me he spent a year writing the film’s treatment during which time he unearthed just about anything ever written on the subject and sought out women to bare their soles. The film features interviews with Kelly Rowland, Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas and Dita Von Teese who bare all about their devotion to shoes. Celebrated poker player Beth Shak, who owns over 1,000 pairs, opened up her extraordinary closet.  He also features another ‘star’ who was literally born to wear high heels: Barbie. (I won’t spoil it for you, but you’ve just got to watch). Designers Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik weigh in on their cult following and the curious bond between women and shoes.

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Star Jones, Kerry Kennedy & Publicists APlenty

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We’re still recovering from last week’s A-list on steroids pep rally for the Giants (it was like shooting fish in a barrel — thanks, Harvey Weinstein!), but today it’s back to Michael’s for another heaping helping of the power lunch crowd. The scene was dominated by spin meisters of every stripe, social swans and money men. (Is the expense account for middle management making a comeback? Discuss.) Representing the celebrity squad was Star Jones who is always fun for a quick, dishy chat.

I was joined today by House Beautiful editor-in-chief Newell Turner, the magazine’s new food contributor Gabrielle Hamilton, who is the owner/chef of Prune, and publicist Michael McGraw. Newell, who usually eats at his desk, decided he may have to rethink his lunch plans when he spied so many Hearst colleagues sprinkled around the room. Indeed.

As a longtime reader of the magazine, I told Newell that its monthly features on the best paint colors for different types of spaces were indispensable to me when I took on the daunting task of painting the interior of our new home last year. Color, or more precisely, how to choose the best ones to enhance your living space, is one of the guiding principles of the magazine. The March ‘Green’ issue will offer a myriad of takes on how to live with the soothing shade. “Our deep-dive color issues always result in a lot of reader response,” Newell told me. He didn’t know what to expect when he devoted an entire issue to pink but was pleasantly surprised. “We had less complaints about it than when we did our ’Blue’ issue.”  In the April issue, readers will have the chance to pick “America’s Favorite Paint Color” from 10 options in a contest on HouseBeautiful.com. The results will be published in September.

Gabrielle Hamilton, Diane Clehane and Newell Turner
Gabrielle Hamilton, Diane Clehane and Newell Turner

Newell, who became top editor in 2010, decided to focus more on American designers, because “American decorating has come into its own despite the economy.” Readers seem to agree. Last year’s June and July-August issues had the highest newsstand sales since November 2002.

Newell recently brought Gabrielle on board as House Beautiful’s food contributor because, he says, “I liked her sensibility and her appreciation for good, simple food.” For her part, Gabrielle, a self-taught cook, has never fallen victim to precious, of-the-moment trends in foods. The voted Best Chef  in New York City in 2010 by the James Beard foundation, Gabrielle attributes her successful run at Prune, which she opened in 1999, to “luck” but then said, “I work very, very hard.” Somehow, she’s found time to write pieces for The New Yorker and The New York Times among many other outlets and had her book,  Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef  (Great title!) land on the Times bestseller list. “People have become obsessed with food — how it looks, how it’s prepared. Look at all the shows there are now on food preparation. I wanted to include it in the magazine in a fresh, new way,” says Newell. “Gabrielle is the perfect person to do that.”

These days, Newell is also working to develop more digital content for the mag’s website and enhanced digital edition available on iTunes. He added videos featuring the magazine’s staff in October. When developing content for that platform, he told me he guards against anything looking “too polished” because “looking a bit rougher” online lends an air of authenticity. Interestingly enough, he also revealed there is only a 7 percent crossover between House Beautiful’s print reader (the target demo is women in their 40s and 50s) and the digital reader who is younger and hipper. (Don’t shoot me; I’m just the messenger). “It’s the same content but a different voice. The digital tone is younger and a bit more irreverent.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The ladies who lunched: Debbie Bancroft, Anne Hearst, Patty Smythe and Laurie Waters

2. Investigation Discovery’s president and GM, Henry Schleiff, and Kerry Kennedy

3.  ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, who stopped by our table to say hello to his old pal Newell Turner and deliver an unexpected little treat to me. This ‘little birdie’ says thanks!

4. Jacqui Safra (Jean Doumanian‘s husband, in case you didn’t know)

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Tim Gunn, Pharrell Williams and a Flock of Fashionistas

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Today’s dreary downpour didn’t keep the faithful away from Michael’s. After missing our usual Wednesday lunch last week (It seems the flu season is starting early this year), we were happy to see that the joint was jam packed with the usual suspects, plenty of fashionistas, and some interesting new folks we hadn’t run into before. (Tim Gunn and Grace Mirabella get my vote as the most interesting set of stylistas we’ve come across in this dining room for quite a while.)

But I knew someone important must be here when I spotted two formidable fellows at the bar. It turns out they were the bodyguards of multi-hyphenate Pharrell Williams who, I must admit, I didn’t immediately recognize because he was somewhat hidden under his red ski cap. The musician-producer-composer and fashion designer (Billionaire Boys Club, Ice Cream Clothing) sure knows who to dress to impress. We were coveting his Chanel sneakers. A man of unique personal style to be sure.

I was joined today by my good friend Dr. Phillip Romero who is keeping pretty busy these days. Phil is in the process of moving into chic new midtown digs where, in addition to seeing patients for his practice as a family therapist, he’ll be launching a new business venture which will include classes and seminars on ”family resilience”  for parents. In his spare time, he’s also getting a lot of interest from several media companies who want to bring his fascinating book, The Art Imperative, to television. I just had to ask Phil what he thought of New York’s cover story about the recession era, post-hope generation who are grappling with the harsh reality of coming of age in this era of uncertainty. One reason these young people are struggling so much, says Phil, is because they were “over parented” and “didn’t learn to take care of themselves.” He says many overprotective parents will inflict the  same fate on their children if they’re not careful. “It’s a cultural problem,” he says. “Parents want to protect their kids from the things they struggled with but, in doing so, focus on their own past instead of being involved in the present and their child’s own needs. They wind up saddling kids with the parents’ problems that have nothing to do with their own life. Kids have to be free to create themselves.”

When it comes to dealing with the ‘new normal’  on a macro level, Phil offers this bit of advice which, to me, sounds like a universal prescription: “The enemy is not the economy, or your spouse, or all the new technology. Today the enemy is chronic relationship stress that tears families apart. When it takes hold, you forget how to love. When we can learn to master this stress and we can change our brain response to the stress triggers in our relationships at home, at work and in the world.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Lynn de Rothschild (Andrew Stein‘s ex, in case you were wondering)

2. Wayne Kabak and UTA’s Simon Trewin

3. Michael Fuchs

4. Jacqui Safra (Jean Doumanian‘s hubby)

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