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Posts Tagged ‘Jesse Kornbluth’

Meg Ryan and Judith Regan “Below the Radar” on Table One

1003_mockup.gifThe spring power lunch season has officially begun at Michael’s with plenty of famous faces and talking heads (Charles Grodin, Star Jones, Lawrence O’Donnell) mixed in with the usual suspects today. None other than Meg Ryan turned up with Judith Regan and slipped in practically unnoticed. Ah, but it’s my job to tell you these things.

In the ‘six degrees of separation’ world that is the dining room at 55th and Fifth, Judith and I grew up in the same hometown of Bay Shore on Long Island. Her mother was often my substitute teacher in high school, and we’ve always had interesting chats whenever our paths have crossed. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the famously fiery ex-book publisher and she told me she’s adapted a new approach of “staying well below the radar” while working on her Sirius XM show. “No one even knows where I live,” she said. I knew better than to question the strategy of staying out of the limelight by sitting at Table One on a Wednesday at Michael’s, so we talked about mutual friends and exchanged pleasantries about our families. When Meg showed up, she couldn’t have been nicer as we chatted about our daughters who we adopted from China the same year, are the same age and both wear glasses. (Sorry, but it’s all OTR.) Later, on the way out, we talked a bit more and I suspected she had plenty more to say on the subject but didn’t want to get caught it the crush of folks lining up for their coats. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

I was joined today by Stu Zakim, public relations vet and “transformational executive” (How’s that for a title?) Mike Berman. Stu, a veteran marketing guru who has helped shaped the image of Showtime, Universal Pictures and Wenner Media, struck out on his own in 2010 with his own firm, Bridge Strategic Communications. His current clients include the Montclair Film Festival, now in its second year, and Mike, a turnaround specialist and business blogger who dispenses straightforward strategies on his blog, Berman Means Business. Stu has been working with Mike since last fall to extend the reach of his no-nonsense messaging espousing a holistic approach to building businesses. With recent headlines on media mash-ups and corporate meltdowns, we had plenty to talk about. Since Mike penned his first piece for CNBC’s website entitled “Five Turnaround Tips for Ron Johnson, JC Penney and Others” earlier this week, I thought a discussion about JCP’s embattled CEO was a good place to start. In a nutshell, says Mike, Johnson “was set up to fail — he can’t fix Penney’s.”

Mike Berman, Diane Clehane and Stu Zakim

He explains, “What’s happening with Ron Johnson is a metaphor for what’s wrong with business today. You can’t hire a rock star as if he’s just come down from the mountain top with the solution to every problem. No one person is able to do what he’s saying he can do.” According to Mike, Johnson’s first mistake was expecting an already beaten down team to buy into widespread change without first stabilizing the organization and clearly articulating a long term vision for the future. Letting 10,000 people go among a shell-shocked workforce didn’t help matters, either. “In the classic turnaround, you can be a hero by coming in and reducing staff, closing under performing stores or factories for the short-term, but in the long-term that doesn’t create value and kills the economy. Executives have to ask themselves, ‘How can I make sacrifices for the benefit of the entity?” Because so many companies rely on the slash-and-burn strategy as an immediate solution to stem the bleeding of their bottom line, Mike tells me he no longer works on “classic turnarounds” because he finds them “totally souless.” Now there’s something you don’t hear every day.

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Bob Schieffer, Carl Bernstein and The Shopaholic Squadron

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It was a tasty mix of media mavens and fab fashionistas at Michael’s today as the town car set dined and dished before jetting off to their summer cottages. While Rupert Murdoch was still topic A for plenty of regulars, talk of the stalemate over the debt ceiling appeared to be on plenty of folks’ minds, too. “I’ve got clients who are on the brink of spending some serious money,” one stylista told me. “I’m praying I can get the deals signed and sealed before something happens to scare them away.” We’ve got our fingers crossed.

I was joined today by Jaqui Lividini whose company, Lividini & Co. specializes in brand development for fashion and lifestyle companies. Having spent two decades at Saks Fifth Avenue — when she left to start her own firm, she was senior vice president of fashion merchandising and communications –  Jaqui now works with an impressive roster of fab fashionistas, including fine jewelry designer Monica Rich Kosann, silversmith Georg Jensen and lingerie designer Josie Natori who, says Jaqui, has transformed her business into a “lifestyle brand” with a new East-West inspired home accents line and a lower-priced intimate apparel collection for Target due in October. Jaqui’s company also counsels a long list of retailers, like Scoop and my personal favorite, Lord & Taylor.

Richard Baker, CEO of the Hudson’s Bay Trading Company, which owns and operates Lord & Taylor, brought Jaqui on board six years ago when the store began its transformation from a staid, somewhat traditional specialty retailer into the go-to, chic shopping emporium it is today. “What [CEO] Brendan Hoffman and  the whole team at Lord & Taylor have done is fantastic,” says Jaqui. And rev up those credit cards — Jaqui reports the Westchester store (the most profitable location in the chain) is adding home to its offerings, plus two new locations are planned for New Jersey. Ready, set, shop!

1.  Joel Chase and a table full of suited up movers and shakers.

2. Cosmo editrix Kate White (loved those sky high sandals!) and Estee Lauder’s Marisa Thalberg.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong with Carl Bernstein, who told me he’s hot on Rupert Murdoch‘s trail for The Daily Beast and Newsweek. The intrepid journo, who knows a thing or two about covering wire tapping stories, says the story of Murdoch’s imploding media empire is “complicated.” He also told me he’s not as sure as some other media watchers seem to be about Murdoch’s eventual ouster as chairman of his company. “It’s more about him being able to put one of his kids in there,” Carl told me. We’ll be reading your future dispatches from the front lines with interest.

4. The Early Show: Face the Nation’s Bob Schieffer with his lovely wife Pat

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It’s An A-Lister Buffet! Cate Blanchett, Debra Messing, Star Jones and The Morning Joe Team

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It’s a sure sign that spring is actually on its way when the A-list comes out of hibernation and flocks to Michael’s once again. The appearance of Cate Blanchett and Debra Messing holding court at their respective tables had the whole place buzzing. Wendy Williams, seated in the middle of the action, could barely focus on her own table because she was so excited. We also have to imagine that the grub at the NBC cafeteria must be wanting these days, because there were so many of the network’s bold face names (Joe! Mika! David!) all around the room.

I was joined today by my good friend, Diana Biederman, managing director of Blackbird PR and Kristen Vigrass, president of The Brandman Agency. We were celebrating Kristen’s promotion to to president of the firm which was announced earlier this year. A public relations vet with a long history in the luxury market for companies including Calvin Klein, Kristen started at The Brandman Agency as a supervisor and worked her way up during her decade with the company. Bravo!

Kristen tells me she and founder Melanie Brandman are planning to celebrate a decade of working together with a possible  sojourn to Borneo. The exotic port of call will be on the intinerary later this year when the agency’s client Orion Expedition Cruises sets sail to the destination with a new ship. Kristen’s suitcase is always packed and ready to go somewhere. The Brandman Agency also represents Intercontinental Hotels Group and Orient-Express Hotels. When do we leave?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Debra Messing, looking every inch the star in a luxe white fur vest with her manager Molly Madden (the gals co-produced Messing’s now cancelled series The Starter Wife for USA Networks) and producer Desiree Gruber.

2. A Fox5 reunion: Rosanna Scotto, Penny Crone and Lynne White.

3. Sony Pictures Television head Steve Mosko with Tom Bernard and Michael Barker

4. Here’s an interesting trio: Uber celeb handler Cindi Berger, Hearst honcho Ellen Levine and Conde Nast front woman Maurie Perl

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Joe Torre, Joan Collins and a Mogul Mashup

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I knew I was in for an interesting afternoon when I saw ’80s icon Joan Collins and former Yankee skipper Joe Torre arrive at Michael’s within minutes of each other. Where else would you possibly expect to run into two icons at the opposite ends of the pop cultural spectrum at lunch in Manhattan? The funny thing was barely anyone noticed. The  crowd was much too busy trying to figure out what all the media moguls were discussing at their tables. Sorry to disappoint, but I can’t read lips so I’m not much help on that front. However, I can report these captains of industry barely took a breath between bites and there were a lot of points being made with forks in the air.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Discovery ID’s head honcho Henry Schleiff, holding court with four important-looking folks

2. Joan Collins, husband Percy Gibson and an unidentified preppie. The Dynasty star was in full diva mode as she sauntered to her table peering out at the crowd from beneath the brim of her gray cowboy hat. Alexis Carrington lives!

3.  For a minute we thought Bono might be stopping by when we heard manager Paul McGuinness had reserved the table, but it turned out his guests were two folks who definitely were not members of U2.

4. Mike Ovitz, talking a blue streak while his lunch date spent much of the time listening with his arms crossed. Whatever could that body language mean?

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Isaac Mizrahi, Twilight‘s Kellan Lutz & A Manhattan Madri Gras

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I attended a fabulous lunch today for Deb Shriver to celebrate the publication of her first book, Stealing Magnolias, due out any minute. It was a festive afternoon befitting the book which is equal parts love letter, scrapbook and chic guide to Deb’s adopted city of New Orleans. “I not only love New Orleans. I love the idea of it. When I’m away, it is a dream I can always return to. I would come just for the gumbo,” says Deb, an Atlanta native and twelfth-generation Southerner.

Our hostess, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, welcomed everyone to “New Orleans North” as we all sipped our Pimm’s Cups (‘I never drink at lunch but I’ll make an exception’ was pretty much the consensus) and dined on Louisiana crawfish salad made especially for the occasion. The guest list was a chatty mix of journos and Deb’s nearest and dearest. In attendance: More‘s editor Lesley Jane Seymour, authors Pamela Keogh and Susan Sully, Deb’s husband Jerry Shriver who toils as music critic for USA Today,  Jesse Kornbluth of headbutler.com,  Amy Wicks of WWD and Melissa Coan and Marcia Sherill of 1stdibs.com It’s worth noting that Deb, whose ‘real job’ as Hearst’s chief officer of communications keeps her more than busy, wrote her book ‘on weekends’ over the course of several months. “Pretty humbling for all of us here at the table who do this for a living,” said one guest. Indeed.

Before lunch, we all got a chance to flip through the pages of the sumptuous tome and I was struck by all the beautiful photography of the people, places and cuisine of New Orleans. It’s the work of 17 different photographers, Deb tells me — and she did all the food styling herself! (Some people just multitask a lot better than others, I suppose). Then, just as the main course was about to be served, everyone in the dining room was treated to a surprise solo performance of jazz man Craig Handy to make the Manhattan Mardi Gras complete. Bravo!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Deb Shriver, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Jerry Shriver, Lesley Jane Seymour, Amy Wicks, Pamela Keogh, Jesse Kornbluth, Susan Sully, Marcia Sherrill, Melissa Coan and yours truly.

2. MSNBC’s Chris Licht, Nancy Jacobson and Kevin Sheekey.

3.  The ‘Imber Gang:” Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer

4. Peter Brown

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An Incognito Laurie Dhue & The Summer Swells

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Even presidential gridlock couldn’t keep the diehards away from Michael’s today. While President Obama dished with the gals on The View across town, the usual mix of media mavens, moguls and socialites pecked at their lunches and traded war stories about their oh so busy summers. Overheard in the ladies’ room: “The traffic in the Hamptons is worse than ever!” and “There’s just too many parties to get to this year!” What a pity.

I was lunching today with Amy Matthews, licensed contractor and host of This New House, premiering Thursday night on DIY. In it, she and co-host Kevin O’Connor travel the country in search of the latest and greatest innovations in home building and construction. The mission of the show, explains Amy, is to teach do-it-yourselfers how to spruce up their homes using their own muscle.

Fresh off an appearance on The Early Show this morning, Amy looks more like a movie star (think a younger Virgina Madsen) than a hardhat, but she says she came to love all things construction from her dad while growing up in Minneapolis. She recommends home improvement novices start by consulting the experts and trying “cosmetic” projects like painting or switching kitchen and bathroom faucets first. But if you think you’re ready and want to have some real fun, pick up a pickaxe and go for it. “A lot of people find doing their own demolition very therapeutic,” she says. “Plus, you can save yourself a lot of money.”

In the series this season, Amy and Kevin meet up with all kinds of inventors, builders and scientists that are sure to get you off the couch and into your local hardware store. One of her favorite inventions, she says, is an at-home system that allows doors in private homes to operate like those handy automatic ones at your favorite big box store. Just the thing you’ll need when you come home ladened with packages from the new Target uptown. We’ll be tuning in.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong (Long time no see!) and pals David Patrick Columbia who celebrated a birthday earlier this week, Joan Jacobsen, Patrick Murphy and Mary McDonagh Murphy. I stopped to say my hello’s and found out the gang was celebrating the release of Mary’s new book Scout, Atticus & Boo which celebrates the 50th anniversary of To Kill A Mockingbird. Congrats!

2. An almost unrecognizable Laurie Dhue, who exchanged her usual anchorwoman ‘do for a slicked back look today, and some equally attractive gal pals.

3. Dynastic dynamos: Margo McNabe Nederlander and Haley Steinbrenner Swindal

4. Jerry Inzerillo

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Lunch: Happy Birthday Donna Hanover & Paula Zahn

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— DIANE CLEHANE

If it’s Wednesday, it’s party time at Michael’s. We’re still recovering from the head spinning spectacle of last week’s A-list lunch for James Cameron. This week, the celebration was a tad more low-key at Table One as public relations maven Joannie Danielides hosted her annual birthday luncheon for her good pal and long time client, Donna Hanover, whose actual birthday was February 15. Joannie, who is busier than ever these days with a full roster of clients in health care and education, told me it was actually a double celebration since it was guest Paula Zahn‘s birthday as well.

I caught up with Paula before she joined the party to chat about her new show, On the Case with Paula Zahn, on Discovery ID. “We’ve just been renewed for a second season,” said Paula, who looked better than ever in a chic leopard print top and some killer stiletto boots. “It’s been great. I’m getting to do some amazing stories. Right after this, I’m getting on a plane and heading to an Alabama prison.” Some people have all the fun.

I had lunch with two of my favorite people today: producer Joan Gelman and Robert Zimmerman, partner of the Long Island based marketing firm, Zimmerman/Edelson. Joan arrived first and told me about her recent trip to Vietnam with her husband, Don Aronson. Both Joan and Don were anti-war activists back in the day and are still true believers. On this trip, the couple spent some time visiting orphanages and were “shocked and appalled” to see the awful effects that Agent Orange has wrought on the country. “It was horrifying to see the stark reality of what war can do to a people — and what we did to these people,” Joan told me.

Things lightened up a bit when Robert arrived. Between the two of them, they know just about everyone in New York and, trust me, the conversation is never dull. (Most of the juiciest stuff is, of course, off the record.) Since Joan is a die-hard Democrat and Robert is an in-demand political commentator for all the cable channels, we had plenty to talk about. When Evan Bayh‘s surprise resignation from Congress came up, Robert offered this assessment: “Saying he’s fallen out of love with Congress is something a 14 year-old adolescent would say. There’s a lot more to it than being in love; it’s about getting the job done.” Robert had these words of advice for jump-starting the stalled government: “The challenge for the Democrats is to come out of group therapy and get things started again. The ball is in our court. Success depends on us acting on our message.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Birthday girls Donna Hanover and Paula Zahn, Joannie Danielides, Gayle King, Time Inc’s Ann Moore, Linda Stacey, Karen Scott, Sue Leibman and Matilda Cuomo. A little birdie told me the girls dug into two birthday cakes: one carrot cake and one chocolate. It seems like the group couldn’t get enough sweet treats. We spied doggie bags stuffed with cookies being packed into a few purses.

2. Most of ‘The Imber Gang:’ Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Jeff Greenfield

3. Gerry Byrne, who just launched Fidelis Global Enterprises LLC. New clients of his advertising media consultancy agency include Adgenesis and Beezag. I caught up with Jerry until his guest, Jane Hanson, arrived. I told Jane I loved the stuff she’s been doing on LX New York, showing the fledgling talking heads how it’s done.

4. A bespectacled Mike Ovitz and a fellow we didn’t recognize

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Lunch: Jermaine Jackson Stops By Michael’s

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The joint was jumping today at Michael’s as usual, but there’s always room for one more when the random headline-grabbing celebrity makes an unannounced appearance. No matter that Jermaine Jackson showed up with publicist Marilyn Crawford without a reservation — they got a prime spot in the dining room. “Next to the wall!” commanded Marilyn after declining the first table offered up and settling in for what must have been a dishy lunch. We can understand why Jermaine was accompanied by a bodyguard (although he needn’t have worried as the Michael’s crowd tried their best not to stare), but we’re a bit confused about the man purse he was sporting.

My good friend Linda Fairstein joined me today to celebrate the upcoming publication of her 12th novel, Hell Gate, due out in March. It’s her first book for Dutton, and she says she’s thrilled to work with the imprint’s “smart, young, and enthusiastic” team. Her last book, Lethal Legacy, which was an instant bestseller last year, is just out in paperback this week. No one is better at promoting books than Linda. (She extensively outlined her multi-platform strategy in our So What Do You Do? interview last year). On Friday, she is shooting a video for her website at Gracie Mansion, which figures prominently in the new book. The title refers to the roaring stretch of water where the Harlem and East Rivers meet near the historic federal mansion in Manhattan. “Even though I kill someone there in my book, they still decided to let us shoot there. I’m thrilled,” says Linda.

Just as we were discussing her website, designed by her nephew Marc Fairstein, a gal leaned over from Kate White’s table and whispered to Linda, “I absolutely love your site! It’s so well done.” Turns out this gal knows a thing or two about eye-catching sites for authors, because she’s the creative force behind Kate White’s site. “Kate’s been keeping you a secret all these years!” joked Linda who is good pals with the Cosmo editrix. Linda and Kate have known each other “forever,” and Linda has been writing pieces about true crime for Cosmo timed to the publication of her books for several years. What are friends for?

Linda also tells me that Kate (who must not need a lot of sleep) has a new book coming out in March entitled Hush which is “darker and more chilling” than anything she’s done before. Send us the galleys pronto, please!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Freddie Gershon (“I’m a Table One person from way back”) and attorney Elliot Brown.

2. Peter Brown

3. My good pals ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, producer Joan Gelman and politico Robert Zimmerman. Joe told me he’s just back from Washington, D.C. where he visited the White House: “But I was invited!” The Mayor picked up this year’s commemorative Christmas ornament in the gift shop as a present for fellow democrat Kerry Kennedy. He gave the twinkling trinket to his pal at lunch today since she was sitting nearby.

4. Cosmetic titan Leonard Lauder, who spent most of lunch going through a pile of papers with an unidentified gorgeous young blonde gal.

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Nancie Clare is the New Editor of LAT Magazine

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We just love tales of employment.


Nancie Clare

Named Editor of LA, Los Angeles Times Magazine

LOS ANGELES, Calif., October 12, 2009 – The Los Angeles Times Media Group announced today that Nancie Clare will take on the role of Editor for The Times monthly, Sunday magazine effective immediately.

“Nancie Clare brings a wealth of talent to her position as LA’s Editor,” said The Times Editor Russ Stanton. “Her vision for our Sunday magazine’s coverage of all things Southern Californian promises to be fresh and eclectic.”

As an original member of the LA, Los Angeles Times Magazine’s September 2008 launch team, Clare served as Deputy Editor. She has been involved in every aspect of the publication’s conceptualization and development and became Executive Editor in January 2009. Clare will now oversee all of LA’s multimedia content, creative direction, and editorial staff, and will work alongside Publisher, Steve Gellman.

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Lunch: Kerry Kennedy, Monica Crowley & Barbara Walters

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Maybe it was the gorgeous pre-Memorial Day weather, but the mood in the dining room at Michael’s today was noticeably upbeat. The usual suspects were out in force, and it seems everyone has caught a whiff of the optimism in the air. A welcome change, to say the least.

I was lunching today with Linda Gaunt, who I first met during her days as EVP of communications for Giorgio Armani: She was nice enough to provide me with an original sketch of a dress Mr. Armani had designed for Princess Diana that she never got to wear. I used it in the forward of my book, Diana: The Secrets of Her Style, and it is one of my favorite images from its pages. Since launching her own firm on Madison Avenue five years ago, Linda Gaunt Communications, Linda has amassed an impressive roster of clients, including Donna Karan’s Urban Zen, Versace, and The Whitney — and she just signed Hanro and Chantelle. Her results-oriented approach to PR has done wonders for her luxury fashion and lifestyle clients. Rather than sit back and wait for what happens next, says Linda, it is a critical time for companies to get smart about public relations and go after market share with “a targeted approach that really understands what the consumer wants and give them a reason to buy.” Sounds like good advice to us…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Leslee Dart, Vanity Fair scribe Leslie Bennetts and Mary Alice Williams

2. The always dashing Henry Schleiff and Kerry Kennedy, who told me she is so excited about the online auction that’s going on now through May 28 for The RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights. Kerry has assembled a stellar list of lots for bidding, including a meet-and-greet with Oprah Winfrey and a day during Fashion Week with Vogue‘s man about town Andre Leon Talley. The money raised goes to aid the work being done on behalf of those in need in many areas including the Gulf Coast and in Darfur.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, George Farias and Fox News’ Monica Crowley (loved the necklace!) Seems the Mayor felt like he needed some fortification since he was lunching with two staunch Republicans, so he brought along an Obama bobblehead doll (which was a dead ringer for the president, by the way) and placed him squarely on the table for support. It definitely got our attention! I was glad I stopped by to say hello to the talkative trio who was dining early because Monica had to be back at the studio and on air this afternoon. Did you know that she is a team member of the Council on Foreign Relations? Now you do … George, who is always such a gentleman, had some good dish to share: He told me Nancy Reagan will be making a rare appearance at the Capitol on June 3 for the unveiling of a statue of President Reagan. Mark your calendars!

4. Barbara Walters (all in red!) and ABC Daytime head Brian Frons dishing about one ‘hot topic’ or another, I’m sure…

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