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Posts Tagged ‘Jim Friedlich’

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Bo Dietl and The Post-Election Posse

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The votes are in and this week’s big winner is Michael McCarty whose dining room has been packed every day with A-list celebs  and politicos of every stripe in town this week to dissect every nuance of election night. The star of Monday’s lunch was none other than Jessica Lange, and on Tuesday James Carville, Cokie Roberts and Tina Brown made the scene. Kirk Douglas was also spotted accepting well wishes for son Michael Douglas, who is keeping a low profile having just finished his treatment for throat cancer.

Today, politics were the topic and I overheard plenty as I made my rounds in the dining room. “Who the hell knows what this all means?” said one shell shocked Obama supporter of the midterm election results. His friend wearily replied, “It’s over. The president is in for it now.” An interested party across the room offered this assessment: “The Republican Party may think this is their time, but they’ll shoot themselves in the foot. You’ll see. ” Another friend told me, “Until we stop thinking of ourselves as a red nation or blue nation and figure out this is a red, white and blue country, we’re screwed.”

At my table, we avoided politics and stuck to dissecting the latest moves in media. My good friend Andy Amill, who this summer got a much deserved promotion and is now Vice President of Weight Watchers Media Group overseeing all print and digital media, is feeling pretty optimistic these days. And he’s got reason to be. It seems celebrity pitch woman Jennifer Hudson, who sensibly shrunk down from a size 16 to a svelte size six on the tried and true program, has been a home run for the brand. “The impact of Jennifer Hudson has been phenomenal,” Andy told me. “We’ve seen an increase in membership at meetings and on-line and an increase in magazine sales.” And, unlike the usual blink-and-you miss-’em celeb endorsement deals, Andy reports that the divine Ms. Hudson will be sticking around to spearhead some top secret programs the company will unveil in 2011.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Early Show: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer. Second seating: My pal, attorney Suzanne Bracker, and Dan Wassong.

2. Peter Brown and Michael Holtzman

3. Fortune‘s Patricia Sellers — whose cover story last month on Oprah‘s next act still has people buzzing – and, we’re told, John Needham.

4. Felicia Taylor with another chic blonde gal we didn’t recognize.

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Lunch: Johnny Weir Is “Not From Mars,” Nate Berkus Readies Transformations

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— DIANE CLEHANE

You just never know who’s going to turn up at Michael’s, and I’ve learned to expect the unexpected during my weekly lunches. That’s just what I got when U.S Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir and his agent Tara Modlin showed up to join Rob Weisbach, uber agent and former president and CEO of Miramax Books, at Table One. I loved every minute of the drama on and off the ice at this year’s games, so I just had to go over and introduce myself to Johnny.

The usually flamboyant and outspoken star, who was wearing a red ruffled sweater, black pants and flat boots, was downright subdued as I offered my congratulations on his Olympic performance but perked up when I asked if the trio might be discussing a possible book. “Yes, I want to do a book. I write a blog for my Web site and I’d like to write about a lot of the things that happen behind the scenes in figure skating,” Johnny told me. “I’ve got a cool background. I’d like people to know I’m not from Mars.” I also asked the sixth place finisher to weigh in on silver medalist Yevgeny Plushenko‘s controversial remarks about Evan Lysacek winning the gold medal without doing a quadruple jump. “I’m good friends with Yevgeny and his comments were taken out of context,” says Johnny. “He’s Russian. English is his second language.” So there you have it; it was all just a simple misunderstanding.

Speaking of books, I was joined today by literary agent Fredi Friedman who helms her own agency and has an impressively diverse list of clients including hedge fund king (and former Morgan Stanley honcho) Barton Biggs, Pat Buchanan, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, and her Republican counterpart Kellyanne Conway. “I go from one side of the aisle to the other!” says Fredi.

We were deep in conversation when Today show producer Marc Victor stopped by to introduce us to Oprah‘s favorite design guru, Nate Berkus. His new syndicated show, Nate Berkus (catchy title!) is set to premiere in September on NBC. Nate tells me he’s branching out from home makeovers. The show will air as a lead-in to Ellen DeGeneres‘ chatfest and will include a variety of different segments. “I’ll be doing some design, but I’ll also be doing interviews and focusing on the idea of transformations.” You might recall Oprah has sent Nate to several viewers’ homes for missions that go beyond a bathroom gone bad. One of my favorite recent episodes had Nate making over a woman who wanted him to glam her up and take her to her 25th high school reunion. “It’s tricky terrain when you’re picking out clothes for someone,” says Nate, who will also “have a presence” on Oprah’s OWN network when it launches. But he came through with flying colors and is now confident enough to give it a go on his own show. “We’re going to be focusing on transformations.”

Fredi, who is always thinking about new book ideas, told Nate he really had something there. “You should do a book!” she said. “Maybe I will,” Nate replied with a smile as he said his good-byes. “Thanks for the feedback!” At Michael’s, lunch is never just about lunch. But you knew that, didn’t you?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Rob Weisbach, Johnny Weir, and Tara Modlin

2. Today show producer Marc Victor (long time, no See!), Nate Berkus, and Nate’s agent Kristen Giese

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, Ed Victor, and his gorgeous wife, Carol.

4. Jean Doumanian with two gents, including producer Jerry Frankel.

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Lunch: Town & Country‘s Pamela Fiori & The Getaway Gang

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It seemed only fitting that our lunch today was with Pamela Fiori, whose new book from Assouline, In The Spirit of Capri, celebrates the ultimate getaway spot. While the regulars in the dining room traded air kisses and vacation itineraries, the Town & Country editrix, along with Hearst public relations director Nathan Christopher, chatted with me over heirloom tomato salads about how this beautiful book (with tons of exquisite photos) came to be. Pamela, whose love of travel has taken her to every glamorous port of call imaginable, says the book happened by accident. A longtime fan of Capri, she suggested to Prosper Assouline and his wife Martine that they feature the divine destination in one of the house’s signature illustrated tomes. The publisher told Pamela, ‘I’m sending you a contract!’ That was that, she says. “I wanted him to do the book, but I didn’t mean for me to write it.” It became a weekend project for the busy Hearst editor, and the book debuted this month, brimming with fabulous photos including images of a barefoot Jackie O strolling through the streets with Valentino and shots of actress Marisa Berenson at the peak of her beauty in the ’60s. A launch party is planned for September 4 on Capri, hosted by Diego Della Valle and Tomino Cacace, owner of the Capri Palace. I’m packing as we speak…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Pamela Fiori, Nathan Christopher and yours truly

2. Paul Schaeffer, who sipped a virgin Bloody Mary while he waited for his pal, Law & Order’s SVU‘s Richard Belzer, to arrive.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, looking crisp and cool in his summer linens, with Kathie Berlin. Joe is fresh off his yearly visit to Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Camp, where he was camp counselor to a cabin of 10-year-old cancer patients. “These kids are so amazing,” Joe told me. “When you see what they’re going through you, realize all the stuff we worry about around here doesn’t mean anything.” Indeed.

4. Esther Newberg, who arrived toting Patricia Cornwall‘s latest (“A New York Times bestseller!”) and a gentleman we didn’t recognize

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Lunch at Michael’s: Ken Sunshine: Lindsay’s Woes Are ‘Beyond PR Issues’

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We’ve truly hit the dog days of summer when there isn’t one Fiji water sipping-celeb in sight come high noon at 55th & Fifth. Luckily, that didn’t mean there was a shortage of Tinseltown talk in the dining room. The topic du jour — what else? — Lindsay Lohan’s latest arrest on suspicion of DUI. (For those two people who’ve been on the moon, it’s the starlet’s second bust in three months and comes on the heels of her recent 45-day stay at Promises and her big show of wearing an ankle bracelet that was supposedly programmed to detect any alcohol in her system). “If I were her publicist,” sighed one media maven, “I’d have my head in the oven.” Uber publicist Ken Sunshine, who represents one-time rehabber Ben Affleck, told me he’d received “tons of calls” from outlets near and far to weigh in on Lohan’s dire straits and said, “Her problems are beyond PR issues.” The Today Show‘s Marc Victor says Lohan’s relapse is sure to focus attention on the country club-like atmosphere of facilities that cater to coddled celebs: “That’s certainly something that will be looked at now.” The general consensus among today’s crowd is that this story has gone from tabloid train wreck to a truly tragic tale. “She needs compassion,” said Lisa Sharkey, Harper Collins’ senior vice president and director of creative development who, together with the house’s executive editor, Maureen O’Brien, was lunching with Sunshine. No doubt that’s exactly what the editors of Us Weekly, In Touch and TMZ.com are thinking …

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

1. Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina, Gerald Imber and another gentleman we didn’t recognize.

2. Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, Today‘s Marc Victor and Men’s Health editor Dave Zinczenko. Our pal Dave was overheard thanking Esquire‘s David Granger for putting a call into none other than George Clooney inviting him to speak at the upcoming American Magazine Conference about his work in Darfur. (Politicians are so last year!) To entice the Oscar winner, seems plans are in the works to see if there’s a way to “incentive-ize” publishers into offering ad space to help promote Clooney’s off-screen endeavor.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Tina Brown’s Bathroom Promise

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We were expecting a celeb sighting or two since it’s Upfront time — the week the networks trot out their overpaid and underfed stars to shill for their supper — but alas, there were no signs of McDreamy or Matthew Fox anywhere. (Thankfully, we didn’t see any cavemen either.) Disappointed, we settled in at our regular perch at the bar to survey the suits and check out the regulars when our pal publicity maven Leslie Stevens appeared on the scene. A scheduling snafu left Leslie solo, so she gamely pulled up a stool and chatted up lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane. The tireless pitchwoman told us she only had time for a quick bite because she was en route to D.C. to attend the launch party of the Onion Express, a joint venture between “America’s Finest News Source” — The Onion — and The Washington Post. Tonight’s soiree is expected to draw the likes of Christopher Hitchens (just don’t get him started talking about religion) and Christopher Buckley as well as “a bunch of politicos.” See, there really is life outside of New York.

Here’s a rundown on the rest:

Table 1. Glamour‘s Cindi Leive, Allure‘s Linda Wells, Playboy‘s Chris Napolitano and a few folks we didn’t recognize having their monthly “editor’s lunch.”

2. Ben Silverman and guests. The ubiquitous Ms. Stevens is throwing a party for the reality show guru (The Biggest Loser, The Restaurant) at the new karaoke joint Spotlight Live (we hear J.Lo has been by) on Thursday night for the crowd in town for the Upfronts. Sorry, by invite only …

3. Terry Allen Kramer and a table full of guests. (We’re told Mayor Joe Armstrong is not MIA, but simply enjoying a trip across the pond to London. Hurry back!)

4. Norman Pearlstine, sporting a military-looking buzz cut, with two equally close-cropped young gents.

5. Arnold Scassi and Parker Ladd. After witnessing Mr. Ladd take a call at the bar we’re amused to report he might be the only adult male in New York City that doesn’t own a cell phone.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Wesley Clark & A Model Mystery

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgWe missed Jane Fonda by a day. Today’s lunch crowd was lacking the star power we’ve come to expect on our weekly visits so while we were disappointed our usual perch at the bar had been usurped by an unidentified exec, we didn’t miss much from our less than stellar seat a few stools down. We were, though, happy to spot our pal Jack Kliger. Lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane chatted up the Hachette honcho about the latest celebrity implosion that’s got everyone buzzing — the Rosie O’Donnell trainwreck that left the station at Monday’s Matrix Awards and crashed and burned with today’s surprise announcement that she is leaving The View in mid-June due to a reported contract dispute.

Kliger was among the stunned crowd of media elite that had to suffer through O’Donnell’s profane performance as emcee of the event that had her soon to be ex-boss Barbara Walters laying her face in her hands from her seat on the dais alongside such luminaries as Hillary Clinton and Arianna Huffington. “It was absolutely disgusting,” he said, adding that the editors from Woman’s Day and other Hachette books at his table were equally sickened by the comedian’s performance. The veteran magazine executive, who knows a thing or two about working with celebrities (remember George?), says it was O’Donnell’s ill-fated stint helming her own magazine was the “turning point” against launching further titles with stars moonlighting as editors. “We’ve learned that you can cover celebrities without giving celebrities their own magazine.” For every Oprah, says Kliger, there are scores of over-inflated egos and Hollywood headcases that are deluded into thinking they can run a magazine. “I was getting at least a proposal week,” he recalls of those days when O’Donnell was still masquerading as “The Queen of Nice.” Everyone from Jennifer Lopez to Jane Pauley(“she was talking to everyone”) was interested in adding the title of editor-in-chief to their resumes — with no personal investment, of course, he recalls. Long before the 2,000 attendees of Matrix witnessed what seemed like O’Donnell’s latest effort at career suicide, Kliger told fellow publishing bigwigs they were crazy to tie their bottom line to the star. “She’s a time bomb.” No kidding.

The rest of the crowd:

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