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Posts Tagged ‘Jason Allen Ashlock’

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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Lunch: Joan Collins Holds Court at Table One, Plus Barbara Walters & Vernon Jordan

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The dining room at Michael’s was buzzing as boldface names settled in to plot their next big move and dish over their Cobb salads. We overhead plenty of chatter about the David Letterman and 48 Hours Mystery producer Robert “Joe” Halderman scandal — sorry, but it’s all off the record. The one thing everyone agrees on is that this tawdry tale is far from over. “There’s got to be a lot more to it,” said one flack. “This is going to be interesting if and when it gets to court.”

I was lunching today with Jason Allen Ashlock, who I first met a while back when he was toiling at The Marianne Strong Literary Agency. In January of this year, Jason struck out on his own and opened Movable Type Literary Group with his partner Meredith Dawson. Things have been going great guns for Jason despite the less than fortuitous timing for launching his business. “It was completely accidental, but because it was counter intuitive, I was able to meet with people and houses that would have otherwise been more difficult to get to, if for no other reason than they wanted to find out what I was doing,” says Jason.

So far, he’s inked 17 deals for his authors this year. Just last week he landed first-time author Adrienne Arieff a deal with Random House to publish her memoir, The Sacred Thread, which chronicles her decision to use a foreign gestational surrogate in India. Arieff decided to move in with the woman who was carrying her child, and the book chronicles their fascinating and unique bond. Jason also got that strangely fascinating husband and wife team of The Real Housewives of New York City, Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen, a deal from Sterling & Ross to pen their upcoming parenting tome, Little Kids, Big City due in March of next year. He brought me a copy of Robert Rave‘s novel Spin, which tells the tale of a wide-eyed publicist who finds himself working for one of Manhattan’s most notorious divas. Robert, by the way, once worked for Lizzie Grubman. We’re sure that’s just a coincidence.

I asked Jason what he thought of the news that Tina Brown will be doing ebooks in association with her website, The Daily Beast. “Tina has said books are the new magazines. I worry about that. Look what’s happening to magazines,” Jason reasoned. “As books become more ‘temporary,’ we lose what they are most useful for: authority. Books that take time, that are well researched, and edited offer a comprehensive point of view on a subject that you can’t get from a magazine article or on the Internet. Publishers can’t just be printers.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Producer Francine LeFrak with a bunch of ‘suits’ and surprise guests Joan Collins with her much younger husband Percy Gibson. Our favorite ’80s TV villainess was doing her best Alexis Carrington by sporting a leopard print cowboy hat.

2. Peter Brown with a distinguished looking fellow we didn’t recognize.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong with Men’s Health honcho David Zinczenko (Long time, no see!). Joe is just back from a humanitarian mission to Cuba where he helped deliver supplies to several orphanages. “These kids really need a lot of help,” says Joe of the heartbreaking poverty he witnessed first-hand. He came brandishing a cane today because of some back trouble as a result of — we’re not kidding — laughing too hard at a fellow Texan’s joke recently. Here’s hoping you’re on the mend soon.

4. We would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for this one: Barbara Walters and Vernon Jordan. I noticed that several times during lunch this intriguing duo had their heads together and seemed to be amused at something or another as they observed the noontime crowd. One can only imagine.

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Lunch: Musical Chairs With Sir Paul McCartney

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— DIANE CLEHANE

So you think you’ve got problems? Paul McCartney (that’s Sir Paul to you) arrived at Michael’s today shortly before noon to scope out a table for a quiet lunch with Barbara Walters. When he was ushered to Table One, situated in the bay window, he passed on perching at the power spot and asked to check out the room before settling on a primo corner table. Babs arrived shortly thereafter, as did a dark-haired beauty that some thought might be Paul’s gal pal Nancy Shevell (but we think not) and a distinguished mystery gent. But alas, the happy foursome couldn’t enjoy their lunch because the eagle-eyed former Beatle spied a pesky video cameraman taking it all in from the sidewalk, shooting through the window. We’re guessing it was those intrepid folks from TMZ who regularly stake out the joint. Well, Paul wasn’t about to give up on his quest for some privacy, so the gang moved once again to the back of the dining room and finally settled in for some good dish. Whew!

The rest of the room was buzzing, with tables shoehorned in all over the place to deal with the overflow of media A-listers. When I made my rounds, I stopped by my good pal Fern Mallis‘ table to say hello. She was nice enough to introduce me to her charming niece, Brooke Lampley, an assistant vice president at Christie’s, and internationally acclaimed museum designer Stuart Silver. The always-optimistic Fern wanted to talk about how well things are going as she prepares for next month’s Fashion Week. (We can’t wait for the Barbie show!) Contrary to published reports, says Fern, there are plenty of exciting designers and companies that are spending money to show at the tents — some for the first time. “I don’t understand why people want to focus on so much negativity,” says Fern. “Why not write about what new things people are doing to help their businesses?” It’s a good question. Many folks that I’ve talked to in the fashion biz say the reporting in this area is far too much gloom and doom, and it’s becoming something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. So come on, people! How about some industry cheerleading? It certainly couldn’t hurt.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Imber Gang: Dr. Gerry Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman. We’re guessing Jeff Greenfield is a bit busy for lunch this week…

2. John Sykes (who was overheard telling Paul McCartney that he had dinner with Clint Eastwood last night and was singing the praises of his latest film, Gran Torino. ‘It’s great,’ enthused John!) and Frederic Fekkai

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong with Glamour editrix Cindi Leive

4. Fox 5′s Rosanna Scotto with her former colleague, newly-minted real estate mogul Penny Crone

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Lunch: Peggy Siegal, Sharon Bush & The Other ‘Women’

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was business as usual at Michael’s today as the power lunch crowd dined out on the latest media dish savoring every tasty morsel. Everyone — and I mean everyone — was talking about Sarah Palin. All of it, unfortunately, was off the record, so I’ll just leave it up to you to fill in the blanks. Between bites of my heirloom tomato salad (which was, for the record, more than ‘satisfactory’), I caught up with the regular crowd and made some interesting new acquaintances.

My new pal Jason Allen Ashlock of The Marianne Strong Literary Agency stopped by the bar to say hello and introduce me to Sharon Bush. Seems Sharon, no longer a regular at the Kennebunkport compound since her messy divorce from Neil, is shopping a book. Are you ready for the title? Bushology. The tome she’s penned with the help of Mark Smith aims to share the wit and wisdom of “how to kick butt the Bush way,” says Jason. But will Karl Rove be thanked in the acknowledgments? (Just kidding). I’ll give the former Mrs. Bush this, with the tenor of the campaign one step above (or below depending on the day) taking on the tone of a mud wrestling match, adding fuel to that fire is sure to get some attention. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

At the other end of the spectrum (and the dining room) Peggy Siegal was hosting one of her legendary lunches in honor of the new chick flick, The Women. Curiously, though, none of the stellar cast was in attendance. We hear Meg Ryan, Annette Bening and the gals were at the Regency for the junket this afternoon. Instead, Peggy gathered up 30 of her nearest and dearest friends for a celebration of sisterhood. We saw Connie Chung, Rosanna Scotto, Jodi Applegate, Deborah Roberts, Leslee Dart and Hoda Kotb on their way in and out of the festivities that were held in the Garden Room.

Here’s the rundown on the rest of today’s crowd:

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

2. My good pal Joan Gelman who was dining with her two dashing sons Gregg (an interior designer) and Josh (a producer for CBS). Nice going, Joan! If you haven’t gotten your ‘No Whining’ button from Joan get your order in now! Quantities are limited!

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Cynthia Brill. I was thrilled to catch up with the Mayor who looked downright collegiate in his cable crewneck sweater. We had so much to talk about… As you may have heard, he knows everyone. Seems his good pal and fellow Texan Lance Armstrong sent word to Joe that he’s “thrilled” to return to competition in the next Tour de France after a three year absence and take a shot at being the oldest winner ever. Based on Lance’s extracurricular activities since he retired, we know he’s got the stamina. Just ask Kate Hudson, Tory Burch and Ashley Olsen. Today, Joe introduced me to Cynthia, whose husband, Steve, you may recall gave us Court TV, American Lawyer, and Brill’s Content (which I loved). These days Cynthia and Steve are on to the next big thing with the ‘clear card’ which stores a user’s relevant data, letting them fly through designated airport security terminals with relatively less hassle. What will they think of next? Check it out at FlyClear.com

4. The Early Show: Showtime’s main man Matt Blank with OK! publisher Tom Morrisey. Second shift: Arnold Scaasi, Parker Ladd and an unidentified young fellow …

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Lunch: Les Moonves, Barry Diller & Kathleen Turner

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Forget the lazy days of summer. Class is back in session as the cool kids returned to the cafeteria today in force. The scene at Michael’s was a tasty stew of moguls and media mavens with a side order of the random celebrity sighting — Kathleen Turner cooled her heels at the bar with her face buried in a newspaper until her pals arrived. And in true Michael’s media-centric style, a photographer from The New York Times was on hand to capture it all for Frank Bruni‘s review due out soon. We can’t wait, can you?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Kathleen Turner, Felicia Taylor, Margo McNabb, Sommers Farkas, Terry Allen Kramer and a very late arriving Peggy Siegal who joined the festivities just in time to be included in the pics for the Times. David Patrick Columbia dashed in just before coffee to grab a few quick shots of the gals for New York Social Diary. You’re no one if you’re not getting your picture taken, darling …

2. Showtime’s head honcho Matt Blank with Holly B. Newman. Loved the leopard skirt!

3. Liz Smith with Jonathan Van Meter. The grand dame of gossip, looking sunny in yellow, told me she was being interviewed for New Yorkfor another anniversary issue.

4. Les Moonves sipping chardonnay with Leon Black

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