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Posts Tagged ‘Jim Abernathy’

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: 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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Lunch: Carl Bernstein: Bush ‘Straight Talk’ Book Would Sell

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Reports of the death of the power lunch are, by the looks of things at Michael’s today, most definitely premature. It will be a sure sign of the apocalypse when the regulars at 55th & Fifth stop showing up to cook up their next big move over burgers and Cobb salads. By the looks of today’s crowd, there was plenty of business being done between bites as media machers, fashion mavens and a few authors of note were deep in conversation. And, reports Michael McCarty, the joint is also jumping after dark. Leonard Lauder took over the Garden Room for a chic soiree last night, and the place is booked with plenty of parties throughout the month. “We’re very fortunate,” says Michael. “We have a very diverse and loyal clientele.” Indeed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Police commissioner Ray Kelly and Tom Kelly. No one was quite sure if these two imposing looking fellows were related, but I’m guessing not since I spotted Tom scribbling furiously in his notebook during lunch…

2. Men’s Health honcho Dave Zinczenko and Glamour editrix Cindi Leive. With all the gloom and doom that abounds and the scarcity of holiday fetes around town, I asked them what they were planning to do for their staffs to brighten spirits. Both said they were planning “very low key” get-togethers somewhere in town. “There’s going to be a pool table and bottles of beer involved,” promises Cindi. Dave also reports that Rodale will be hosting two parties — one here at the New York offices and the other at the company’s Emmaus, Pa. headquarters. No Scrooges here! I just had to ask Cindi what she thought of this morning’s item in The New York Post that she (and Linda Wells) might be in line for the top spot at Vogue should those pesky rumors (denied by Si Newhouse) that Anna Wintour is on the way out. Or, maybe her pal Dave has lured her away for the top spot at Women’s Health. (An announcement about the job is expected any day.) “I’m perfectly happy where I am,” Cindi told me.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Carl Bernstein. I told Carl that I caught All the President’s Men (which he co-wrote with Bob Woodward on the heels of their game-changing coverage of Watergate for The Washington Post all those many years ago) on TMC the other night. “How does it hold up?” he asked me. Pretty well, I told him. “It’s been years since I’ve seen it,” says Carl. I had to ask him what he thought of the reports that the soon to be ex-president wouldn’t exactly incite a bidding war for his memoirs in the months following him leaving office. Carl dismisses the notion that their would be no takers for the book. “Presidents never have difficulty getting their memoirs published,” he told me. Earlier this week, Bush told ABC News’ Charles Gibson that he was “unprepared for war” and said his “biggest regret” was the mistaken claims regarding weapons of mass that lead to the war in Iraq. So does that mean that Bush’s prospective tome might offer some introspection? “Forget introspection,” says Carl. “If he was more forthcoming about his presidency given the amount of withholding of information and level of mendacity, a little straight talk would be good.”

4. Tommy Mottola and an unidentified older gentleman

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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: Jane Fonda & Jerry Seinfeld — That’s Entertainment!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It’s always those random celebrity sightings at Michael’s that make my weekly Wednesday visits much more fun. Today certainly didn’t disappoint. When a little birdie told me Jerry Seinfeld would be holding court on table one today, I knew I was in for it. When he strolled in sporting a baseball cap and jeans, it seemed he was trying to keep a low profile, but as soon as he opened his mouth, every head in the vicinity swiveled in his direction. He pretended not to notice and took a quick look around the dining room before settling in at table one with Trident Media’s Dan Strone. I’m thinking Jerry’s got another book in the offing. If not, he might have gotten an idea for one by the time lunch was over — every time I glanced his way, I got the distinct impression he was gathering material. He looked more than a little amused at the scene as the rest of the crowd strained to check him out on the sly. Across the room, Jane Fonda (who made her second appearance of the week) also opted for a low profile, hiding behind her shades for much of her lunch with Pat Mitchell — then the gals ducked out early. But not before my pal Beverly Camhe got a chance to chat with Jane about a possible appearance at the Center for Peace in Berlin. Then, the tireless Bev joined me at the bar and gave me the scoop on the hit of the Hamptons Film Festival (she’s on the advisory board) — the new documentary from two Australian filmmakers on Dominick Dunne. Bev reports that Dominick flew in just for the premiere and was “very moved” by the film. “He was thrilled,” says Bev. “He was nervous beforehand because it was an act of faith since he didn’t know these guys. It turned out great and everyone loved it.” We’re thrilled for Nick. Congrats!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Jerry Seinfeld and Trident Media’s Dan Strone

2. Peter Brown, Frank Bowling and pals

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Sotheby’s Jamie Niven

4. Arnold Scaasi (who felt compelled to prune the bountiful fall arrangement behind his table before sitting down), Parker Ladd and a gal named Judy, so we’re told …

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Lunch: Where the Magic Happens

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I thought I’d seen just about everything from my regular perch at Michael’s during my weekly visits, but today topped all. They were serving up sides of card tricks with the Cobb salads today and the gang was just eating it up. When I arrived, illusionist JB Benn was standing at the bar shuffling a deck of playing cards for Frank Gifford as his pals Hunter Millington — yes, Steve‘s brother — and Chris Graham looked on. He asked the gridiron great to sign a card and place it back in the deck. After a great deal of slow-mo shuffling, he finally pulled out the very same card from a sealed envelope in his jacket pocket.”I better make sure I’ve still got my watch,” quipped Frank. JB then drafted me into service asking me how many dollar bills he was holding in his hands. Frank and I both agreed he had four single dollars. Literally, right before our eyes the bills turned into hundreds. Within minutes, a crowd had gathered and there were gasps all around. I wouldn’t be surprised if JB is now booked between now and 2010 as the entertainment at parties from the Upper East Side to Easthampton as result of his impromptu performance this afternoon.

The utterly charming and adorable Mr. Benn (“He looks like a better-looking Tom Cruise,” said one smitten diner) made the rounds in the dining room eliciting applause all around. When I saw how wowed Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb were after the illusionist worked his magic on them, I suggested they might want to have him on the show to make ‘Sam the Cooking Guy’ disappear. In case you haven’t heard, Sam caused quite a stir on Today last Wednesday’s show in a segment during the fourth hour when he basically told the co-hosts to shut up and let him talk about his salad when he thought they had gotten too chatty. Sam clearly didn’t know what to do when he realized he had actually verbalized what he was thinking. He then sputtered out the ingredients of his salad while Kathie Lee and Hoda just watched him squirm — a classic TV moment. But, says Kathie Lee, Sam isn’t banished from the set. “I’m big on second chances,” she says. But be warned, Sam. “I forgive — but I don’t forget.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Woody Johnson (sporting a discreet ‘McCain‘ button) and a squadron of suits. Just asking: Is the Jets’ owner advising Michael’s on personal seat licensing?

2. Three members of the ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerry Imber, Andy Berger and Jerry Della Femina. I had a great chat with Jerry about AMC’s runaway hit “Mad Men.” (If you haven’t tuned in, check it out on Sunday nights at 10 p.m. It’s the best dramatic series on television right now — seriously) Turns out the legendary ad man was one of a select few that got an early look at the script for the series’ pilot because creator Matthew Weiner wanted to make sure he got every detail right, from the Brooks Brothers suits worn by the execs to the nonstop smoking that helped fuel the creative fire on Madison Avenue in the early sixties. Jerry, who had a “four pack a day” habit back then, says the show has been a boon for business. “For the longest time nobody wanted to be in advertising. Everybody wanted to be an investment banker. Now, because of the show, people are talking about advertising again. It’s revitalized the industry. I’m back in fashion again!” Indeed.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, producer Joan Gelman and marketing strategist and frequent CNN contributor Robert Zimmerman (glad to hear you’re a ‘Lunch’ fan!). Before my good pal Joe — who is jetting off to Europe this week for a much-deserved vacation — and his fellow Democratic boosters settled down for lunch they, too, were dazzled by Mr. Benn’s sleight of hand. Before they could dash off to their table I asked Robert, who is privy to the inner workings of the Democratic party, for his thoughts on who will be Barack Obama’s running mate. The suddenly taciturn strategist demurred, but offered his thoughts on who it should be — “Joe Armstrong, of course.” Remember, you heard it here first.

4. Gerald Schoenfeld and Carnegie Hall head Clive Gillinson

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Lunch At Michael’s: Barry Diller, Bob Iger & The Literary Lioness Club

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— DIANE CLEHANE

For those who like their cobb salads served up with a side order of adrenaline, 55th & Fifth was the place to be today. Media moguls and literary lionesses convened their cliques for some lively conversation that kept the dining room buzzing. Esther Newberg and Anna Quindlen enjoyed lively conversation with ABC’s Lynn Scherr and Faye Wattleton in one corner, while NBA commissioner David Stern and Disney honcho Bob Iger kept a much lower profile in the back. The sighting of the power pair set tongues wagging about this morning’s New York Times story that Stern is forming a Chinese subsidiary with some help from a yet to be announced multi-media partner. Has Mickey got game? Stay tuned …

I was lunching with my good pal Chris Madden. The lifestyle maven is everywhere these days: on the cover of Your Good House (her new magazine produced in partnership with Hearst), in her charming ads for her furniture line with JCPenney and in last week’s Home section of The New York Times. The tireless Ms. Madden is celebrating her 30th year in business next Wednesday at a party at the Gramercy Park Hotel in their oh-so-chic rooftop garden. (Massive goodie bag alert!) Cathie Black, Ellen Levine, Random House’s Chip Gibson and jazz man Steve Tyrell are on the guest list. “It’s all gone by so fast!” says Chris, who started out as a publicist for Random House before breaking out on her own and parlaying her eye for all things fabulous into a far-flung empire encompassing a design business (Oprah, Katie Couric and Toni Morrison have been clients), 16 books, an eight-year run on HGTV and her ever-expanding home furnishings line. Chris has always been a believer that those who do well should do good as well and as such, spent much of last spring in Mississippi where she donated the contents of her Vermont warehouse filled with furniture to help survivors of the Hurricane Katrina rebuild their homes.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Lynn Scherr, Esther Newberg, Faye Wattleton (who left her trench coat on during lunch) and Anna Quinlan.

2. Peter Brown & Jonathan Alter.

3. Ed Rollins and a distinguished looking gent…

4. Jay Cross and Steve Greenberg.

5. A smiling (!?) Barry Diller with an unidentified guest. We’re intrigued by the fact that no one ever seems to know the name of the taciturn Mr. Diller’s lunch guests…

6. Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina, Gerry Imber and pals.

7. We’re not sure and neither was anyone else…

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Lunch At Michael’s: A ‘Roomful of Bitches’

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpg[EDITOR'S NOTE: Sure, the media world shuts down in late August — and our Lunch At Michael's column takes a breather to regroup — but we wouldn't let those of you chained to your desks down. This week and next we're running favorite columns from the past year, handpicked by our LaM scribe, Diane Clehane.]

We’re always kept more than occupied checking out the bold faced names in the main dining room on our weekly visits but today our radar was truly put to the test when the usually celeb-free Garden Room was the hotbed of activity with an estrogen-fueled, invitation-only lunch hosted by Peggy Siegal for Arianna Huffington. The luncheon (where no one touched dessert) brought out the most head-spinning cross-section of alpha females, power blondes and social swans we’ve seen in a long time.

The Gotham gals we spotted: Joni Evans, Karenna Gore, Naomi Wolff (who must be so proud of Al Gore‘s newfound mojo), Zoe Baird, Nora Ephron (who seemed to be traveling incognito in her dark sunglasses while checking out the dining room on her way inside), Fern Mallis, Dayle Haddon (who somehow lost her cellphone in the fray), Fran Drescher, Karen Duffy, Arlene Dahl (sporting her favorite black patent leather newsboy cap!?!), Deborah Roberts, Erica Jong, Maria Cuomo Cole, Somers White and InStyle‘s Cindy Weber Cleary. Lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane, who was dining with OK! editrix Sarah Ivens, got the lowdown on the crowd from Joan Rivers, who summed up the afternoon thusly: “You’re better off out here! That was a roomful of bitches in there!”

Here’s a rundown of the rest of the crowd:

Table 1. A pow-wow of beauty industry bigwigs: GCI (Global Cosmetic Industry) editor-in-chief Karen A. Newman, Marc Rosen and a table full of colleagues. A photographer from Cosmetic World/Beauty Fashion hovered nearby to capture the big doings.

2. Uberagent Esther Newberg, who was spotted picking at the plate of her guest.

3. John Josephson.

4. Herb Siegal.

5. Stanley Schuman.

6. Henry Schlieff toting a Hallmark goodie bag to his lunch with newsgals Lynn White, Rosanna Scott, Jane Hansen and Penny Crone. The tireless showman was overheard asking Charles Stevenson who was seated at David Patrick Columbia‘s table about his golf game and promising to hit the links with him soon .

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Lunch at Michael’s: All Hail Tina Brown!

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When a little birdie told us to switch our weekly reservation from Wednesday to Thursday so as not to miss the confab of publishing powerhouses that were expected today, we did so in a heartbeat. We’re happy to report today’s crowd didn’t disappoint. Where else could you see Newsweek honcho Jon Meacham bow down to Tina Brown at Mayor Joe Armstrong‘s table, or watch a gaggle of social swans fawn over Project Runway breakout star Tim Gunn while cooling their Jimmy Choos in the lounge? The worlds of substance and style collided today at 55th & Fifth.

The results kept us so busy gawking that we barely finished our salad nicoise:

1. Mayor Joe Armstrong presiding over one of his legendary lunches with a host of truly impressive guests. Tina Brown arrived looking every inch the power blonde in black leather and was greeted with great fanfare by all including an enthusiastic hug from neighboring diner and former Condé Nast colleague Shirley Lord. We can’t wait for Tina’s new book, The Diana Chronicles, due out in June from Doubleday with an excerpt to run in Vanity Fair. Word is she breaks big news about the People’s Princess. We can’t imagine what’s left to reveal, but we’re all ears! Joe kept the conversation flowing among pals Liz Smith, Newsweek‘s Jon Meacham, ABC News producer Kathy O’Hearn, Random House’s Susan Mercandetti (who edited Bob Woodruff‘s new book, In An Instant. The ABC newsman’s tale of recovery following his near-death experience in Iraq as written mainly by his wife will debut at number one on the Times bestseller list Sunday, March 16. Couldn’t happen to nicer guy!).

Always the gentleman, Joe took time out from keeping things lively to introduce lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane to two of his other guests, Vanity Fair correspondent Marie Brenner and Newsweek scribe Holly Peterson. We’ve been fans of Marie’s ever since she took on the tobacco industry in a piece that became the basis for The Insider. Joe teased that her upcoming expose on Guantanamo Bay for Vanity Fair will be even more explosive. We’re really intrigued by Holly’s new book, The Manny, — which earned her $1 million for the book and movie rights. (Not bad for a first timer.) The novel taps into the cultural zeitgeist by chronicling the fictional exploits of a male nanny who does more for Upper East Side yummy mummies than look after their kiddies. The sure-to-be-bestseller is also due out here in June from HarperCollins but is already selling like mad in the U.K.

2. Shirley Lord & Peter Brown.

3. Charlie Rose and Zoe Baird. The talkshow host looking more debonair than usual (the no tie look really works for you, Charlie) held Ms. Baird’s rapt attention throughout lunch — must have been a very intriguing tale …

4. ‘Entourage’ East: EMI president Charlie Walk with four black-suited young gents.

5. Herb Siegal.

6. Freddy Gershorn and Steve Swid.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Valentine’s Hangover

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It’s the calm after the storm. The biggest — and only — snow storm of the season couldn’t keep the movers and shakers away yesterday. On Valentine’s Day the bustling dining room was host to a “low-key” birthday celebration hosted by Sherry Westin for Mayor Bloomberg, who received kudos all around for the bang up job he’s doing. (The big question everyone was asking: is he running for president? Why not? Everyone else is!) We, not of the Town Car set, postponed our weekly visit a day so as not to slog it out with the elements. We’re pleased to report all is right with the world once again: regulars and boldface names mixed it up amicably over the hum of pleasant media conversation.

Here’s the rundown:

1. Blonde ambition: Liz Smith and Cynthia McFadden with a lovely looking lady we didn’t recognize. Note to Liz: we’re impressed by how neat your desk and office looks in the new Vanity Fair. Who knew orderliness was the secret to longevity!

2. A casually clad Henry Schlieff.

3. Five fashionable types (from Palm Beach, we’re told) including Iris Cantor and Larry Kaiser.

4. Hachette’s Jack Kliger with Jay Kriegel and Jim Abernathy.

5. Lou Cona and a bevy of female staffers.

6. Frederic DeNarp.

7. Author and radio host Lisa Birnbach and Alexandra Trower.

8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia and a petite blonde pal who passed the time waiting for DPC (“I couldn’t get a cab!”) by chatting with Kathie Lee Gifford.

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