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Posts Tagged ‘Jon Needham’

Matt Blank, Dennis Basso and the Story Behind Meghan McCain’s Latest TV Project

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Last week,  it was all about authors and agents, and today it was television titans’ turn in the rotating cast of characters that is Wednesdays at Michael’s. Tonight when Liz Smith hosts her annual kick-off for her Literacy Partners’ initiative, the joint will be jumping with social types like Diane von Furstenberg (who, we hear, recently broke her shoulder skiing and is, no doubt, sporting a fashionable sling) and her Vespa loving hubby Barry Diller, Cynthia McFadden, Cornelia Guest, Calvin TrillinNan Talese and Gay Talese. We won’t be there to trade air kisses with the glitterati, because we’ll be chatting up our favorite Bravolebrities at their upfront party across town (Giggy, that means you!).

Today I was joined by Evan Shapiro, president of pivot (yes, with a lower case ‘p’) the new cable network targeting the all-important millennial audience  launched by Participant Media, the production company responsible for an impressive slate of projects, including An Inconvenient Truth, The Help and Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln. Participant chairman and founder Jeff Skoll and CEO Jim Berk tapped Evan to spearhead the company’s expansion into television in May of last year. Prior to that, he had served as president of IFC and Sundance Channel where we was responsible for award-winning program, like the buzzed about Portlandia.

I could barely keep up with Evan, whose passion for his latest gig was evident from the moment he sat down. The incredibly youthful 45-year-old father of two teenage girls told me running pivot is his “dream job,” because he’s doing more than creating what he considers groundbreaking television. “Ten years ago I would have said my dream job would have been at NBC or CBS.  Today, it’s this job because we’re doing something that’s going to have an impact on the world.” Evan dismisses the notion of millennials as spoiled and entitled and instead compares them to ‘the greatest generation’ saying, “Like ‘the greatest generation,’ they have been handed a series of events not of their own making, and, post 9/11 and the Great Recession, they have a real sense of their place in the world and want to make a difference.”

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Lunch at Michael’s: Ex-CBS News Prez Says Give Katie A Chance

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgAs much as we’ve come to enjoy our perch at the bar with its bird’s eye view, we were thrilled when one of our favorite television titans, Andrew Heyward, invited us to join him and his guests for lunch. Today’s lunchtime chronicler, Diane Clehane, chatted with the always affable and extremely insightful former president of CBS News and Bostonian pals Jeffrey F. Rayport, chairman and founder of Marketspace and his wife, investment consultant Hilary Hedge. Andrew, who is currently working with fellow Harvard alum Mr. Rayport as a consultant to Marketspace’s media practice, looked relaxed and happy (love the Zegna suit!) as he weighed in on his former employer’s decision to hire Katie Couric to anchor the evening news. “They are not to be underestimated. They deserve credit for trying new ideas and taking the program in new directions. The reporting is excellent.” His take on Couric: “She’s very talented and has brought a warmth to the broadcast. It takes time to find your voice and it takes time for viewers to find you.” So back off, you naysayers!

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

1. Bruce Wasserstein presiding over a table of imposing-looking gentlemen.

2. Peter Brown and Joan Cooney.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia with the lovely Joan Jacobson.

4. Herb Siegal and guest.

5. Producer Irv Winkler and an outdoorsy-looking gent. The hit-maker — whose latest picture, Rocky Balboa, has proven to be a knockout punch at the box office — was collared by Peggy Siegal (who was showing off her pics taken on a recent trip to Africa to all who stopped by) on his way out. The uber publicist was overheard extending an invite to Irv to attend her screening of “The Lives of Others.” Second shift: Former New York City Council president and one-time mayoral candidate Andrew Stein.

6. Our friend Terry Allen Kramer, Margo McNabb and guest.

7. A flack named “BJ,” we’re told …

8. Messieurs Heyward and Rayport, Ms. Hedge and Ms. Clehane.

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