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Posts Tagged ‘Jane Friedman’

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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Kirk Douglas Pens Spartacus E-book

New York publishing firm Open Road Integrated Media is calling it Kirk Douglas’ “first E-riginal.” Even though the 242-page work will also be available in paperback.

At age 95, the three-time Oscar nominee and prolific author has conquered just about every other media realm. Come June, with forward help from George Clooney, he will have added material written primarily for the Kindle, Nook and so on, under the title I Am Spartacus! Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist. From today’s announcement:

Open Road co-founder and CEO Jane Friedman says, “I have admired Kirk Douglas as an author ever since the publication of his first bestselling book, The Ragman’s Son, in which he touched on the complicated and career-threatening decisions he took in producing Spartacus, which resulted in the breaking of the decade-long Hollywood blacklist. I am thrilled that he finally decided— with the wisdom and clarity of his 95 years—to tell the definitive story of the making of this iconic film amid the shameful political climate of the time.”

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Kathie Lee Gifford, Marlo Thomas And The Best Seller Brigade

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The joint was jumping when I arrived for my weekly lunch at Michael’s today. Between the bestselling authors, media mavens, and the social swans of the Upper East Side, there was a real buzz in the room — or was it just all that pesky pollen from the azaleas on every table?

I was joined today by jewelry designer and all around renaissance woman Carol Brodie. I’ve known Carol since her days at Harry Winston when she managed to get every A-lister you could possibly name to show up at the Academy Awards dripping in the iconic house’s diamonds. In 2009, Carol launched her own fine jewelry collection, Rarities, on HSN and has become the shopping network’s number one resource for fine gems. With prices ranging from $59.90 up to $10,000 for one of a kind pieces, that’s a lot of bling! It’s amazing to learn just how much people pony up sitting at home watching in their pajamas. She’s also launching a collection of watches next month.

Carol has become something of an overnight success in the digital world, since her mantra is ”click and order” over “bricks and mortar.” As a completely digital brand, she has garnered plenty of attention for her social media prowess and recently spoke at the Fashion 140 conference at Lincoln Center along with fellow Twitter fanatics Robert Verdi and Elle’s Joe Zee. Besides the “priceless” exposure she gets on HSN (her next appearance is scheduled for May 20, when the network celebrates ‘Brazilian Day’), Carol stays in constant contact with her customers through Facebook and tweets up to the minute on virtually everything she is doing, wearing and selling. (She, of course, tweeted our lunch.)

“Social media is the ‘Main Street’ of my brand,” she told me. “I want to talk directly to my customers, and they want to talk directly to me.” Carol is also planning to do a lot more talking with an upcoming book and television show in development (“a cross between Antique Roadshow and Pawn Brokers“) that she’s working on with a former Oprah producer. She kind of makes you feel guilty about all those hours spent watching Bravo instead of designing your website, doesn’t she?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Sam Haskell, author (Promises I Made My Mother) and former head of William Morris’ worldwide television division, with his wife and daughter — both named Mary. The group was  joined by Kathie Lee Gifford, who I grabbed for a brief chat. When I asked how her Mother’s Day was, she said, “It will be better tonight — Cody is coming home from college!”

2. Former HarperCollins head Jane Friedman, now CEO and co-founder of Open Road with uber ad man Richard Kirshenbaum and Jeffrey Sharp, president and co-founder of Open Road.

3. Diane Sokolov

4. Charlie Schuler

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Lunch: Liz Smith, Frank Langella & A Bevy of Social Swans

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The streets may be eerily empty these days (at least you can always get a cab), but you can pretty much count on a full house on Wednesdays at Michael’s. Today the dining room was buzzing as media mavens and a fair share of fashionistas made the scene. Before things really got going, I checked in with ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, who is keeping good thoughts for his pal Robin Williams as he undergoes heart surgery. It was Joe, you may recall, who first brought Robin to Michael’s all those years ago for a lunch with Bill Clinton, which made headlines far and wide and even wound up being discussed on David Letterman. Here’s hoping one of our favorite funnymen makes a full and quick recovery.

Today I was lunching with Dorian Benkoil, mediabistro.com’s former editorial director and the man who first asked me to do this column. Dorian has a very full plate these days helming his own company, Teeming Media. He’s hosting an online show, Naked Media, broadcast monthly on NakedMedia.org, and recently had Businessweek.com’s Jon Byrne and Howard Lindzon, co-founder of Stockwits and Wallstrip, as guests. At the moment, Dorian is hard at work producing a seminar entitled “Finance for Media Professionals” to be held on March 23. If you want to check out the details for this timely talk, go to TeemingMedia.com.

I was happy to see regulars Kira Semler and Vi Huse (‘the bar-ettes’) having their monthly champagne lunch at the bar. I only wish that Kira had told me about her letter to the New York Post (which they printed) bemoaning the paper’s decision to stop publishing Liz Smith‘s column. (She showed it to me when we were all on our way out the door.) I would have loved to have introduced Liz to such an ardent fan. Oh well, next time…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The New Yorker‘s David Remnick, publisher Lisa Hughes and Cartier’s Frederic de Narp with a few members of his incredibly chic staff.

2. My new Facebook friend Terry Allen Kramer with Broadway producers James Neiderlander and Rob Greenblatt

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and The Hallmark Channel’s honcho Henry Schleiff. I had to go over and tell Henry that I’m loving those Saturday night made-for-TV movies on his network (What can I say? I have a four-year-old and don’t get out much). Henry told me he’s particularly excited about this week’s offering, Relative Stranger, starring Eriq La Salle, Cicely Tyson and Michael Michele, about a football player who leaves his family and years later returns to make amends. It premieres Saturday night at 8 p.m. I’m in! And, for all you fans of I Love Lucy and The Golden Girls reruns (Come on, confess, I know you’re out there) Hallmark is now home to these television gems. You’re welcome…

4. Liz Smith and Frank Langella (who gallantly got up and offered to pull out Liz’s chair — chivalry is not dead! Liz and I chatted before Mr. Langella’s arrival (he’s just too imposing to call Frank) and she told me now that she’s made the move to the Internet writing for her Website wowOwow.com (check it out, it’s addictive), she’s “trying to pump up her sources.” Aren’t we all?

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Lunch: Tom Brokaw Holds Court; Jane Friedman Works The Room

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— DIANE CLEHANE

‘Tis the season to be lunching, and the usual A-list suspects were out in force today with plenty of glad-handing and air kissing all around. Maybe it’s because this is (mercifully) the last full week of work for the year or perhaps it’s just because everyone is tired of all the doom and gloom. (There’s plenty of time for that in January, anyway.) We were happy to talk about something other than layoffs for the afternoon and set off to ask about people’s holiday plans. I wanted to ask former Harper Collins president Jane Friedman what she wanted from Santa, but she was too busy working the room like nobody’s business. Proprietor Michael McCarty, who has plenty to be grateful for, says the whole clan is going to Los Angeles for the holidays. His parents are coming in from Kittery, Maine and his wife Kim’s parents are coming from London. “It’s great because we all get along.” I caught up with Tom Brokaw while we waited to get our coats on the way out, and asked him what he was wishing for this holiday. “Survival,” he said with a bemused smile. A sentiment no doubt echoed by one and all. Here’s hoping…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Tom Brokaw and Meredith Brokaw with Toni Goodale and her hubby

2. Jack Rovner (he’s Bon Jovi‘s manager in case you were wondering) with another hip-looking fellow…

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and gossip guru Richard Johnson. The prince of Page Six promised he’d talk with us for an upcoming ‘So What Do You Do?’ We’re calling you January 2…

4. Barbara Walters, looking resplendent in red (loved that Chanel tote!) with Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s lady love Diana Taylor. Barbara stopped to chat with me at the bar and I was pleased to hear my recent interview with her longtime executive producer Bill Geddie had made the rounds at the office. I told Barbara that I loved that Bill described their relationship with the ladies of The View as one where he was the ‘mommy’ and Barbara acted more as the ‘daddy’ disciplinarian. “We’re like an old married couple,” she laughed.

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Lunch: Barry Diller, Jeff Zucker & The Magazine Mob

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— DIANE CLEHANE

What recession? The usual power quotient found on any given Wednesday at Michael’s went into overdrive today as the gals at the front desk had so many media moguls, magazine mavens and talking heads lining up to dine and dish today, they had to shoehorn in extra tables all over the dining room. Luckily, I scored some prime real estate for my lunch with my old pal Jeffrey Slonim and new-found friend Bettina Zilkha. Jeffrey and I have stood side by side on many a red carpet over the years and have bonded over the histrionics that goes with covering A-list events. These days Jeffrey is busier than ever as Interview‘s society editor (a prestigious gig once held by Truman Capote!) and Allure‘s special correspondent where he fearlessly asks all those publicity shy celebs questions we all really want to ask (bedtime rituals, what they really eat after parties — that sort of thing). It was nice to see him out in daylight. Bettina was recently named Special Projects Editor for Elle Decor and has a fascinating profile of designer Dennis Basso in this month’s Avenue. We had a lively lunch trading stories about Gotham’s gadflys we all know and love (all off the record, sorry to say). I can’t wait until to our next get together.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Crooner Steve Tyrellwith Frank and Jamie McCord (owners of the LA Dodgers, in case you were wondering), James McBride (the GM of The Carlyle where Steve is performing through New Year’s Eve) and my good pal Amy Rosenblum.

2. Peter Brown

3. Jim Abernathy and Dawn Bridges

4. Barry Diller and the Financial TimesChrystia Freeland who was warding off today’s chill with a killer fur hat. Fab!

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Lunch: Charlie Rose, Joe Scarborough, and the Summer Die-Hards

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— DIANE CLEHANE

With the dog days of summer upon us, the usual suspects at Michael’s are soldiering on over their Cobb salads until it’s time to take off those last few weeks of the month to the Hamptons, Nantucket or some other sun-filled spot far from the madding crowd. In the meantime, the random celebrity sighting is keeping things interesting. Word of illusionist JB Benn‘s sleight of hand tricks that kept the crowd bedazzled last week must have gotten around the magician’s union because my spies told me that David Blaine walked in without a reservation yesterday and was bending quarters for everybody’s amusement. Just thought you’d like to know.

I was lunching today with publishing powerhouse turned Internet entrepreneur Joni Evans, whose five-month old site Wowowow.com is going great guns. Joni, who is wow’s CEO, launched the site with pals Liz Smith, Peggy Noonan, Mary Wells and Lesley Stahl for “self-assured women who are a bit too old to care what everybody thinks.” This month, Joni kicked off “The Book Party” with Judith Martin (Miss Manners) reading a collection of the classics. “It’s been incredibly well-received,” she says, and plans are in the works to expand the vertical in all sorts of interesting ways. And that’s not all — Joni tells me in the not-so-distant future the site will introduce a new fashion maven into the mix to cover style and a health vertical ‘Medicine Ball.’ The site’s content is popping up on MSN.com, Fox.com and Yahoo’s Shine. For more dish about Joni and her newfound career, check out her interview with me for our “So What Do You Do?” series coming next month …

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Charlie Rose and an unidentifed young blonde gal

2. Peter Brown

3. Jonathan Tisch and John Sykes

4. Michael Fuchs and Peggy Siegal

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Lunch At Michael’s: Paging George Clooney! Fern Mallis is Saving You a Seat at Fashion Week!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

What recession? The dining room at 55th & Fifth was buzzing with the usual assemblage of bold face names, social swans and television types that tucked into their Cobb salads with gusto while digesting some of the week’s harrowing headlines. Hollywood figured heavily into many of today’s conversation with folks reeling from the shocking death of Heath Ledger and others seriously contemplating the possibility of a celebrity-free Academy Awards. IGM’s Fern Mallis, who is days away from kicking off Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, hopes cooler heads will prevail on the left coast and everyone is back on the red carpet come Oscar night. “With the economy tanking, it’s not about seeing pretty dresses on the red carpet,” says Fern. “It’s about having so many people being put out of work as a result of the strike. We need this Oscar to happen for a lot of reasons.” The one bright spot: since the stars aren’t working at the moment, Fern expects a slew of celebrities to show up at Bryant Park. At the top of her wish list: George Clooney. “I’d always find a seat for him.’ Perhaps when the newly minted best actor nominee wraps up his rumored role in the negotiations to get everybody back to work, he’ll make time for a pit stop in New York. Here’s hoping …

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, Sharon Hoge and a table full of handsome gents.

2. Richard Rubenstein.

3. Peter Price.

4. Esther Newberg with ‘Barefoot Contessa’ Ina Garten.

5. Harper Collins’ Jane Friedman.

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Media Events: 02.12.07

media_events_logo_sm.jpgParties, panels and other notable media gatherings

MONDAY 02.12.07

WHAT: “The State of American Democracy”
WHO: Newark Mayor Cory Booker
WHEN: 6:00PM
WHERE: The New School, Tishman Auditorium, 66 W 12th Street
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: Booker’s buzz has been quietly building — he was a panelist at Time magazine’s Person of the Year luncheon in November — and comparisons to Barack Obama abound.

WHAT: John Marks Presents Fangland
WHEN: 7:00PM
WHERE: Barnes and Noble, 4 Astor Place
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: A former 60 Minutes producer’s take on the classic vampire novel. Blood-sucking!

WHO: Regan Book editor and author Bridie Clark
WHAT: Because She Can book party
WHEN: 7:00PM
WHERE: The home of Marisa & Matt Brown
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: To fete the former Regan Books editor and author Clark, and to ask Harper Collins CEO Jane Friedman, one of the evening’s expected guests, for her on-the-record take on sacking Judith Regan.
NOTE: Private event.

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