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Posts Tagged ‘Jim Mitchell’

Spike Lee, Jon Meacham and a Real Housewife of New York City

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It’s been a big week for movie moguls at Michael’s. Harvey Weinstein was here on Monday, and Spike Lee showed up for the second time in a six days. Who needs Hollywood?

Besides the slew of  ‘producers’ cooking up their next big deal over their Cobb salads (now available with turkey bacon!), there was the usual mix of media mavens (EW’s Jess Cagle, Investigation Discovery’s Henry Schleiff) and plenty of stylish spinmeisters for fashionable firms like Chanel, Louis Vuitton  and Estee Lauder.

Speaking of fashion, I was joined today by Steven Stolman who knows a thing or two about catering to stylistas, particularly those with a predilection for all things preppy. The Parson’s School of Design grad apprenticed at Albert Nipon and was then tapped to return 12 years later as the house’s design director. “It was a magical time,” Steven said, until the bubble burst when parent company Leslie Fay, in the midst of its own financial meltdown, shuttered the Seventh Avenue design house. Steven moved on to Lilly Pulitzer (he was curator of  their 50th anniversary retrospective) where he presided over the modernization of the iconic Palm Beach label.

“Lilly inspired me to go out on my own,” Steven told me. And he did, opening stores under his own label in bastions of preppydom Palm Beach, Nantucket and Southampton, as well as Beverly Hills and New York. Some of Steven’s best memories of that time are of personally assisting some famous faces, which led to some wonderful encounters with folks like Yo-Yo Ma and Barbara Walters. One day in Palm Beach, Steven spied Dominick Dunne walking down the avenue and stopped him to chat, bemoaning the fact that he’d been reading one of Dunne’s books and would have loved to get it autographed. Dunne affably replied that he’d watch the store while Steven ran home to get the book. When he returned with the tome, Dunne dutifully reported to Steven that he’d sold a skirt and that Steven had missed his mother’s call. Hilarious.

Diane Clehane and Steven Stolman
Diane Clehane and Steven Stolman

After a brief sabbatical from fashion to serve as development director for a Florida non-profit raising funds for a community health center for the uninsured, Steven then served as design director for Jack Rogers (love those sandals!) before landing his current gig.

Steven is coming up on his first anniversary as president of Scalamandre, the legendary fabric house favored by tastemakers who cater to those who live the luxe life. The house’s iconic signature red zebra print has popped up in a whole host of hip spots from the film The Royal Tannenbaums to the dressing rooms at Barneys. “It just makes people happy,” said Steven. Chances are if you’ve seen some swanky swag on a window uptown, it’s from Scalamandre. The fabrics are in all the best places, from the tastefully traditional upholstery seen in The White House, to the grandeur found at the Metropolitan Opera, to two hipster chic rooms being unveiled next week at this year’s Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse.

So, how did a fashion designer wind up as its president? Read more

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Lunch: Anna Wintour & Coming Soon — The Rolling Stones!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We’re guessing that spring break with the kiddies kept more than a few bold face names we’ve become accustomed to seeing away from 55th and Fifth today. Luckily, some of our favorite regulars were on hand — along with the first ever (at least since I’ve been at my perch) Wednesday Anna Wintour sighting — kept us more than interested in the goings on in the dining room. But, we hear, the really big doings will be taking place this Sunday night when The Rolling Stones are coming to party with Martin Scorsese, who directed the documentary Shine A Light about the iconic rockers. If you haven’t gotten your invite, it probably just got lost in the mail…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Frank Gifford and his charming daughter Cassidy enjoying a pre-theater lunch before seeing The Little Mermaid (again!). I’d met Cassidy once before when mom Kathie Lee Gifford brought the incredibly well-mannered 14-year-old to Michael’s this summer. Today, father and daughter dined alone (she sipped a Shirley Temple while he flipped through what looked like a Tiffany’s catalog!) On the way out when they stopped by to say ‘Hello,’ I asked Frank when there would be word of Kathie Lee’s all but imminent arrival at Today. Putting his hands up in mock protest, he turned to his daughter and said, “Diane wants me to talk about things I can’t talk about.” But Frank, you know I’d never tell anyone …

2. William Morris’ Wayne Kabak and a pal.

3. “Mayor” Joe Armstrong, who was nice enough to introduce me to guest, longtime pal and fellow Texan Sarah Gray Miller. The dynamic duo worked together when Joe was the founding publisher of Garden Design and Saveur and Sarah, now editor-in-chief of Oprah’s O At Home, was a media maven in training. Mr. Mayor, who knows everyone, lunched yesterday at Michael’s (where else?) with another one of his favorite Texans Lance Armstrong. He said the two of them spent part of the afternoon dishing over the stunning reports that Dick Cheney is a “distant cousin” of Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton and Angelina Jolie are branches on the same family tree. Perhaps, says Joe, he and Lance are related to jazz great Louis Armstrong. To commemorate their possible kinship, the Mayor presented Lance with a mini statue of their may be ancestor. Between bites of his burger, Lance howled with laughter. “We love to laugh,” says Joe who is off to Texas to visit his mom Dorthadele. See you when you get back!

4. Über agent Ed Victor (looking quite literary in a black turtleneck and jacket) with Alan Grubman.

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Lunch: The British Are Coming — Tomorrow!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We’re still exhausted from hob nobbing with last week’s overflow of A-listers, so we were almost glad things were a bit more subdued at 55th & Fifth today. It gave us a chance to catch up and chat with some our favorite regulars. Imagine my chagrin when I stopped by Matt Blank‘s table and Showtime’s CEO told me had I switched my weekly reservation to tomorrow, I’d be chatting with some of the biggest stars of his network. On Thursday, Matt and entertainment president Bob Greenblatt are hosting their own “British invasion” at table one when the entire glorious cast of The Tudors — the dreamy Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Peter O’Toole and Natalie Dormer will be breaking bread with the network’s other stars — including Tracy Ullman, whose show State of the Union, will premiere March 30, the same night as the new season of The Tudors. Thank God, something to watch! (I’ve been completely depressed over the fast approaching season finale of HBO’s In Treatment…) Also in attendance, says Matt, will be Billie Piper, who stars in — and we’re not kidding — the upcoming Secret Diaries of a Call Girl, which will premiere in June. Talk about timely. Perhaps the newly unemployed Eliot Spitzer can make a cameo appearance.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Gerry Imber, Jerry Della Femina and the gang with Fox News’ Monica Crowley.

2. Showtime’s chairman and CEO Matt Blank with über producer Michael Davies.

3. “Mayor” Joe Armstrong and Glamoureditrix Cindi Leive (Glad you hear you’re a loyal “Lunch” reader!). The Mayor was celebrating with his friend Cindi over a glass of red wine — and a few asparagus spears — about her big news. Minutes before lunch, Cindi found out Glamour is a finalist for the fourth year in a row for the National Magazine Award for General Excellence. No woman’s magazine has ever been so honored! The worthy competitors: Time, People, National Geographic and Martha Stewart Living. Congrats! Before Cindi and Joe tucked into their lunch, we unanimously decided New York‘s Spitzer cover this week is one for the ages. Brilliant!

4. Norman Pearlstine and a young gent no one seemed to know …

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Lunch At Michael’s: Judy Collins Stops By

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Last week we developed some serious whiplash craning around to keep up with the A-listers that table hopped at lunch. Today’s crowd was much more low key with a smattering of regulars dotting a somewhat unfamiliar landscape consisting of business types and the occasional captain of industry who might dazzle in the boardroom but didn’t make for the star gazing we’ve come to expect at 55th & Fifth. After checking in with a few of my favorite folks, I settled into my regular perch at the bar and made the acquaintance of fellow diners Michael and Linda Warfield who were in visiting from California. The Warfields, bemoaning the lack of famous faces they usually see on their regular trips, kept me entertained by sharing stories of Michael’s days as a producer of mall extravaganzas where television stars would meet and greet their devoted fans. Michael gave me the skinny on his favorites (The Dating Game‘s Jim Lange and Dynasty‘s Emma Samms — remember them?) and those who were, shall we say, a bit too high maintenance. (My lips are sealed). Just when I thought this week would mark a first — a celeb-free Wednesday! — I caught a glimpse of Judy Collins swaddled up in a pink pashmina chatting with a snowy haired gent at the door when I was on my way out. Here’s hoping the joint is jumping once again next week.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Imber gang — or at least most of them — Dr. Gerry Imber, Michael Kramer and Jerry Della Femina. Where was Jeff Greenfield?

2. Jonathan Wald.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Men’s Health honcho Dave Zinczenko. The tireless Mr. Z’s new book Eat This, Not That co-authored by Matt Goulding (published by Rodale, of course!) is a fascinating read for those of us (you know who you are) who delude ourselves into thinking as we toast the holidays with that festive holiday Starbucks — “This isn’t that bad.” Reality check: a Venti White Hot Chocolate with whole milk is a whopping 640 calories and 28 grams of fat! And don’t even think of having that cinnamon chip scone — it’s got 490 calories and 25 grams of fat!! The compulsively readable tome (that smartly fits into a tote) does offer healthier alternatives. Young Dave will be on Today tomorrow morning talking all about it …

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Lunch At Michael’s: Lance Armstrong — For Governor?

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Remember a few weeks back when I promised Lunch readers a full report on the off chance we had our own encounter Lance Armstrong at 55th & Fifth? Well, here’s your early holiday treat. The Tour de France winner-turned-man about town was holding court at Table One today so I couldn’t resist chatting up the surprisingly shy guy. When I first spotted Lance in the power spot I was struck by how dashing (and slim) he looked in his power suit (accessorized, of course, with his own LiveStrong bracelet). All you gossipmongers out there will probably be disappointed to learn he wasn’t dining with his ex-Tory Burch or his one time canoodling partner Ashley Olsen. When I introduced myself to Lance as he got up to leave, he looked a bit nervous when he spotted me surreptitiously (or so I thought) taking notes. “What are you writing?” he asked nervously. That’s when I knew it wasn’t exactly the right time to ask about Tory or Ashley, so I told him I write this little column about who lunches at Michael’s on Wednesdays and asked him if he could tell me who he was with today. After giving the question a bit more time than one would think it warranted, he warmed up and answered. Turns out my new pal was dining with the head of his foundation, Doug Ulman and Kathy Giusti, founder of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. “She does an incredible job raising money for the prevention of that cancer,” he said. When asked why he chose to come to Michael’s (it’s his second visit in so many months), he said with a big smile, “Whenever I ask people where they want to have lunch they say, ‘Let’s go to Michael’s!” He told me he had another date planned but since he seemed a bit skittish about generating any press I promised him I’d keep mum on the specifics. In the meantime, ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong says fellow Texans are so impressed by Lance’s heroic fundraising efforts that there’s a movement afoot to draft him into running for governor of the Longhorn state. If Arnold can do it, why not?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Lance Armstrong, Doug Ulman and Kathy Giusti.

2. Peter Brown.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Dorothy Kalins enjoying a long awaited “reunion lunch.” These good pals go way back to the days when Joe was founding publisher of Saveur and Dorothy was editor …

4. Would love loved to have been a fly on the wall for this one: Jim Dolan and Viacom’s Philippe Dauman.

5. Herb Siegal — congrats on your engagement! Ain’t love grand …

6. A group of gents we didn’t recognize …

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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: Kate White & Her Lethal Blondes

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgAfter the last few relatively uneventful Wednesdays, we were thrilled to see the dining buzzing with excitement when we arrived this afternoon. Our favorite Cosmo gal Kate White was celebrating the publication of her latest book, Lethally Blonde, with a ladies lunch at Table One comprised of an intriguing mix of flaxen-haired gals. The festivities spilled out into the main dining room causing quite the hubbub until Steve Millington corralled the crowd and the gals settled down to tuck into their salads. White’s power peroxide set: Kim Cattrall (who was overheard telling a reporter she “hasn’t heard anything new” about a possible Sex And The City movie), Hilary (Mrs. Bryant) Gumbel, Cecile Richards (president of Planned Parenthood and daughter of the late Texas governor, Ann), Linda Fairstein, Sarah Greenberg of Lionsgate Films and Joan Carl, president of D. Porthault (which would explain the lovely little packages at each place setting).

The View‘s Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who looked glowing in her 15th week of pregnancy (“It’s the self-tanner”) told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane that she was there because she was “in awe” of Ms. White, adding, “Cosmo and The View have a lot in common. They both cover all the things women really care about. Both have also been subject to others trying to duplicate their successful formulas but they’re both true originals!” Fresh off yet another dust-up on this morning’s show with Rosie O’Donnell, Hasselbeck professed to know nothing about plans to replace her departing co-host. “I never know anything.” But, she admitted, “I’m sure there’s some master plan.” When asked to characterize her contentious relationship with O’Donnell, Hasselbeck gamely replied: “We’re friends. We’re in different places philosophically. When you feel deeply about issues, things get heated. Some times I wish I didn’t care as much as I do.”

Also in attendance: Lesley Stahl (who slipped in after things had settled down) and the one true head-scratcher of the group: Carolyn Kepcher, who, you might recall, served as Donald Trump‘s hatchet woman on The Apprentice until he banished her from the boardroom. We’re guessing Ms. Kepcher enjoyed the news that the once popular reality show was left off NBC’s new fall schedule.

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

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Lunch at Michael’s: Ralph Lauren Is Into Leather

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgFashion designers are a strange bunch. These arbiters of style often appear in some head-scratching ensembles that, if they were mere mortals, would land them squarely in “What were they thinking?” territory. We’re always on the lookout for the sartorially splendid during our weekly visits to 55th & Fifth, so we were really excited to hear Ralph Lauren was coming today. Imagine our surprise when the man who perfected WASP and western chic moseyed on into the dining room sporting what for all the world looked like leather-fringed chaps. A new fashion statement from his upcoming collection? We surely hope not.

We were even more intrigued when a little birdie told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane it was likely the first time fashion’s $10 billion man was in the same room with biographer extraordinaire Michael Gross, who penned the deliciously dishy tome Genuine Authentic: The Real Life of Ralph Lauren. New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn praised the book in her review, saying it “hacks through the hype and half-truths” of Lauren’s far flung lifestyle empire. We’re pleased to report the two gentlemen remained on opposite ends of the room, keeping things oh so civilized.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

Table 1. Ralph Lauren and a table full of business types.

2. Peter Brown.

3. Attention parrot heads: An almost unrecognizable Jimmy Buffett — in a blue blazer and dress shirt! — with two guests. (Mr. Mayor, were art thou?)

4. Jeffrey Katzenberg. The DreamWorks CEO was sporting his signature California casual look (v-neck and T-shirt). He passed the time waiting (?!) for his guest by sipping iced tea and reclining back in his chair elbows akimbo. When a blonde gal in a black power suit finally arrived to join him, we recognized the face, but no one seemed to know her name …

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Lunch at Michael’s: Tina Brown, Downright Subdued

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgOn the menu at today’s lunch: a tasty stew of pop culture icons, publishing legends and power brokers — with a side of TV’s young-ish guns. There must have been big things afoot. Instead of the usual glad-handing and table-hopping, most diners were deep in conversation and slipped in and out without much fanfare. We barely recognized Dan Abrams, who had exchanged his clean cut pinstripes for a four o’clock shadow and a tieless khaki suit. We had to look twice when a downright subdued Tina Brown almost slipped past us. Then we settled in and watched the show:

Table 1. The top power spot was occupied by some interesting and intriguing folks today. The early show: Howard Rubenstein and guests. Now that we’ve been doing this for a while, we’ve noticed that the master of spin likes to dine, dish and be on his way before most of the other movers and shakers have had a chance to order their Fiji waters. Second shift: Judge Robert Keating presiding over a table full of jovial guests. Here’s an interesting bit of NYC trivia: the bow-tied jurist set up the first Midtown Community Court in Times Square in 1993 when the tourist trap was attracting a whole different type of thrill seeker. His forward-thinking move helped to all but eliminate the low level crime that was so rampant during the mid eighties and early nineties. Remember those dark days?

2. Peter Brown and Time‘s Michael Elliot. The jet-setting Mr. Elliot tells us he is currently based in New York but is splitting his time between Time‘s London office (where he edits the Europe, Middle East and Africa editions) and Hong Kong (for the Asia edition).

3. 60 MinutesSteve Croft and MTV’s John Sykes.

4. Wayne Tabach.

5. Time Inc.’s John Huey with a cool, Grace Kelly-ish blonde we didn’t recognize.

6. MSNBC’s general manager and legal eagle Dan Abrams with Good Morning America‘s newish news anchor Chris Cuomo. Good to see you Chris, after your close call in Iraq …

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