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Posts Tagged ‘John Forte’

Lunch: Dishing on the Oscars & Obama

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— DIANE CLEHANE

As I’ve been reporting for weeks, it was SRO at Michael’s today as the movers and shakers, undeterred by the unsettling economic news, were out in full force plotting their next big move — or looking for a safe place to land. On the menu today: plenty of talk about President Barack Obama‘s speech last night and the Oscars. There was a strong consensus that one was a big winner, while the other got surprisingly mixed reviews. While everyone in the audience on Oscar night thought Hugh Jackman killed, plenty of folks here were less than impressed. “Movie people don’t like Broadway,” sniped one Hollywood insider. “And it was too Broadway.” Okay then…

Everyone I talked to about President Obama’s speech felt his oratory skills are nothing short of amazing and that he struck just the right tone where he basically told us its time to pay the piper and think of our children’s future. Personally, I was impressed at his unflappable ability to mix his formal and seemingly off-the-cuff remarks with ease — and he didn’t even blink when he forgot to follow protocol and let House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduce him. She had to stop him mid-sentence, but he never faltered. Talk about cool under pressure. But here’s what wowed the women in the dining room — his affectionate introduction of the First Lady Michelle Obama and her mouthing, ‘I love you’ back to her smitten husband. “They’re marriage is obviously hot,” one divorcee told me. I’m telling you, no one wants to admit it, but that’s what people are really talking about.

As for the president’s remarks, “Inspirational but realistic,” is how one media summed things up. Others were scratching their heads asking why Wall Street wasn’t feeling the same way. More than one person said, “With everyone feeling a little bit hopeful, I don’t get why the market is down.” (It had dropped by more than 100 points by lunch). A question for the ages, no doubt.

On a much lighter note, I asked the always dapper Dr. Gerald Imber what he thought of the Botox-ed beauties on Oscar’s red carpet. But this plastic surgeon to the stars never cuts and tells — “I didn’t watch,” he confessed. He laughed when I asked him why he’d pass up the chance to admire his handiwork and did offer his assessment on why movie stars make better plastic surgery patients than mere mortals: “They come in with headshots saying, ‘I’ve changed a little here, I want to fix this here.’ They know what they want. There’s no whining.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Andy Bergman. Here’s a fun fact: A little birdie told me that Andy wrote the screenplay for Blazing Saddles. Now you know…

2. Hallmark honcho Henry Schleiff with two other well-dressed fellows

3. No one puts a lunch together like ‘The Mayor’: Joe Armstrong, Glamour editrix Cindi Leive, George Stevens and Kerry Kennedy. I was thrilled to meet George (who was sporting a very patriotic red, white and blue shirt and tie ensemble). He’s the man behind the television broadcast of the Kennedy Center Honors and the amazing broadcast of the concert on the Mall in celebration of President Obama’s inauguration. Kerry and I met once before at a lunch given by Henry Schleiff in this very dining room, where we talked about her then yet-to-published book, Being Catholic Now. I was so fascinated by her interviews with the likes of Bill Maher and Gabriel Byrne (who spoke about being abused by a priest) that I got through the terrific tome twice. Today the conversation was all about how stirring and inspirational the group found the president’s speech last night. “It made me proud to be an American,” Kerry told me. And we both totally melted over the young school girl who was seated next to the First Lady having written to the White House looking for aid for her school, which is in a serious state of disrepair. “I had tears in my eyes,” said Kerry. She wasn’t the only one…

4. An early-arriving Matt Blank who chatted with Joe and I before The New Yorker‘s David Remnick and Lisa Hughes joined Showtime’s head honcho for lunch. I was happy to reconnect with Lisa. Way back when, she was my sales rep at Self when I was the marketing honcho for a fashion company. I knew then that Lisa was destined for big things at Conde Nast, and she’s risen through the ranks like the pro she is. Well done and congrats!

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Lunch: Special Fashion Week Edition

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— DIANE CLEHANE

These days, you just never know who you’re going to meet on Wednesdays at Michael’s. If we’d come yesterday, we would have been able to chat with Willem Dafoe. Oh well. This being New York Fashion Week, I was thrilled when Donna Karan came in. I was happy to catch up with my former boss (I once toiled as her flack during her heyday at Anne Klein) and add to the praise she’s been getting for her show earlier this week. When I asked her if she’s seen the glowing review Cathy Horyn wrote in this morning’s Times, she replied with a smile. “That was a surprise!” Not to her most fervent fans, though. Donna’s gorgeous jackets and draped skirts that are sure to be on plenty of well-dressed city gals come next fall hearkened back to her 80s heyday without looking at all retro. While everyone else is referencing the decade of giant shoulder pads (Is anyone really going to wear them again?) and DayGlo brights, Donna has managed to make everything look thoroughly modern and beautiful. Bravo!

I was lunching at the bar with fellow People scribe and soul sister Natasha Stoynoff when Ed Victor came up for a chat. Our favorite uber agent told us he was meeting Fugees producer/rapper John Forte and his lawyer Aarti Tandon. Here’s a tantalizing tale: John was one of 14 people who got a presidential pardon from departing President George W. Bush. John received a 14-year sentence in 2000 for drug trafficking when he was caught with two suitcases of liquid cocaine worth $1.4 million in Newark Airport. Carly Simon and Senator Orrin Hatch (now there’s an odd couple) both championed his release, says Ed. Now, he’s blogging about his experiences for Tina Brown on The Daily Beast, and Ed is shopping a book about his adventures in and out of jail. Sounds like a page-turner to us…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Bonnie Timmerman and Richard Belzer

2. Peter Brown and a young bespectacled gent

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Dorothy Kallins

4. My pal, Inside Edition anchor Deborah Norville and CBS Television’s Bob Madden. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Deb, so I went over to chat, and we laughed about how busy the dining room is despite empty tables all over town. “This place is the cafeteria for the LinkedIn set,” she laughed. So true ….

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