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Posts Tagged ‘Joni Evans’

Outlander Author Diana Gabaldon on Writing Best Sellers and Playing Nice With Hollywood

LunchAtMichaelsJudging by the decibel level at Michael’s today the media mavens and swells had plenty to talk about between bites of their Korean tacos (delish!) and Cobb salads. There’s always a flurry of activity on the last Wednesday in July before most of the last remaining power lunchers depart for their much-needed vacations in August. You can only be fabulous (or pretend to be) for so long before you have to regroup and refuel.

For us, July isn’t going out with a whisper but rather with a bang as I had one of the most fascinating Michael’s lunches in eons with best-selling author Diana Gabaldon, whose wildly popular Outlander novels rocket right to the top spot on The New York Times best-seller list as soon as they’re published. She has sold a head-spinning 25 million books that have been translated into 24 languages. The mind reels. Her most recent, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (how’s that for a title?) came out in June, the same week Hillary Clinton‘s book did. I guess you know whose publisher had a better week. I was “the last stop” on Diana’s magical mystical media tour, which has included an SRO appearance at Comic-Con, a sell-out conversation at the 92nd Street Y and, just this morning, an appearance on CBS This Morning with the two lead actors of the new original series based on the books that premieres August 9 on Starz.

Diana Gabaldon and Diane Clehane.

Diana Gabaldon and Diane Clehane

It’s always a bit of a crapshoot sitting down with someone I’ve never met to make conversation over lunch with the expressed purpose of learning as much as I can about my companion in about an hour while fielding the numerous “newsflashes” that come courtesy of the diners around the room. I was grateful I got a good night’s sleep last night because simply put, Diana is a force of nature. I could barely keep up as she recounted the story of how she decided “to write a book just to learn what it took to do it; I did it for practice” and how her pragmatic approach to novel writing (which hasn’t changed much, by the way) has catapulted her to international stardom.

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Lesley Stahl, Cynthia McFadden & Lindsay Lohan’s Interior Decorator

1003_mockup.gifEven the arctic temperatures couldn’t keep the faithful away from Michael’s today. The scene at 55th and Fifth was, although celebrity-free (unless you count a cast member from “The Real Housewives of New York City) even wilder than usual. The media mavens (Lesley Stahl, Cynthia McFadden), magazine power gals and honchos (Anne Fulenwider, Connie Anne Phillips, Jack Kliger) and fashionistas (Fern Mallis, Mickey Ateyeh) must have had plenty to talk about because at one point the decibel level hit its tipping point and I could barely hear the folks I was with and believe me, they were worth a listen.

I was joined today by Deacon Webster and Frances Webster, co-founders of Walrus, a multi-disciplinary creative agency, and they have quite a story to tell. If you want a laugh, check out the talking Walrus that touts the agency’s work on the company’s website. Hilarious. The husband and wife team, who first worked together at Mad Dogs & Englishmen, founded their award-winning (Ad Age’s 2012 Northeast Small Agency of the Year) in 2005 and, says Frances, have seen their business grow an astounding 300 percent in the last three years. Our mutual pal, PR veteran Diana Biederman, who is currently consulting for The Humane Society of New York, brought us all together and we had a lively lunch dishing about the ad biz. Deacon is the agency’s chief creative officer and Frances handles the business side as managing director. Their yin-yang skill sets keep things humming at work — and at home. The Brooklyn-based couple gave up trying to keep work talk out of their after hours conversations (“We quickly realized that was impossible,” says Frances) but did decide that having their desks facing each other in the middle of their open floor plan office was a little too much togetherness. They now keep their distance on opposite ends of the office and everything is going swimingly.

I’ll say. Having started their agency with the “21 Club,” Emergen-C,  Grand Marnier, CWX and The Economist as clients when the principals at Mad Dogs & Englishmen decided to close up shop and passed the business on to them (“We went to them and asked if they’d mind if we took the business with us and they were okay with it,” explained Frances), the Websters now boast a roster that includes Amazon Kindle, Bazooka Brands and Bloomberg Businessweek as well as hotter-than-hot Rent the Runway and came up with a funny and effective photobomb video campaign to tout to the fashion site’s growing wardrobing capabilities. They’re also the team that AMC tapped a few years ago to develop a brand strategy for “The Walking Dead” and we all know how that turned out.

Deacon Webster, Diane Clehane and Frances Webster

These days, the Walrus team is busy touting the preventative properties of Emergen-C on social media and in the digital realm and is promoting the message that the cold medicine isn’t just for when the flu strikes but rather a wondrous preventative elixir that is best taken daily (they’ve taken the brand from 5,000 to 531,000 likes on Facebook and counting). They are also working on attracting younger moguls, hedgies and the like to Bloomberg’s Businessweek. “We’re telling younger people that the magazine has really changed.” The good news is, says Deacon, since changing to the weekly delivery system that subscribers get along with their daily newspapers, the magazine is getting a lot more attention from subscribers and “there hasn’t been a lot of newsstand drop off. If people read three issues in a row, they’re hooked.” Their mission now: to find different venues for digital sampling for the consumer and keep the buzz going over their eyebrow-raising covers.

You can check out Walrus’ witty, out of the box thinking on Friday in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal with their full page ads for Smith & Wollensky which explain why scoring an internship at Smith & Wollensky is better than landing one at Goldman Sachs, Lazard and Morgan Stanley. The ads explain, among other things, that “Lazard might know a thing or two about capital markets, but when it comes to creamed spinach they might as well be Lehman Brothers.” Got your attention, didn’t it?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Hollywoodlife.com’s EIC Bonnie Fuller and publisher Carlos Lamadrid with Penske Media’s vice chairman Gerry Byrne hosting Real Housewife of New York City’s  Aviva Drescher, Sirius XM’s Serena Kodila, Island Def Jam Music Group’s Laura Swanson, Comcast’s Julian Broadsky, Activate’s Michele Anderson and Matrix’s Patrick O’Keefe.

2.  Fern Mallis and Mickey Ateyeh

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and David Zinczenko. One of today’s hot topics among the regulars was “When is Dave going to announce his next move?”  Plenty of folks stopped by Table 3 to inquire. Our lips are sealed …

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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

A Party for Emily Blunt & Ewan McGregor; Katie Couric Holds Court

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It’s been a pretty wild winter at Michael’s. Far from suffering from the seasonal doldrums, the place has been operating on full tilt every Wednesday with a fresh array of A-listers that always make for some pretty good people watching. Today was no exception.

Besides the jam packed dining room filled with boldface names, Peggy Siegal was hosting a party for Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt to celebrate the release of their latest picture, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. I caught up with Emily (I loved her scene-stealing turn with Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada) when we both stopped by Katie Couric‘s table to say hello. “It is a bit unusual,” Emily said when I asked her about the movie’s quirky title. “I’m hoping that it will make people want to check it out and see what it’s really all about. It’s really a lovely love story.” I saw the trailer, I told her, and it does look pretty romantic. “It is! I hope people will like it.” Emily has been making the rounds to promote the film and has a funny Q&A in this week’s New York magazine where she talks about she and her husband, John Krasinski (the cute guy on The Office) being neighbors with Jimmy Kimmel. Everyone, it seems, loves her hubby including Katie. “He’s just so adorable,” Katie told Emily, who could hardly disagree.

Katie Couric with Ewan McGregor and a host of well-wishers.

I was joined today by Bravo’s newest reality star, matchmaker Lori Zaslow, whose show Love Broker premiered this week, Bravo’s SVP of Communications Jennifer Geisser, and communications manager Ryan McCormick. I caught Lori’s first show and her Monday night appearance on Watch What Happens Live! A new Bravolebrity is born!

The White Plains native and former executive recruiter started her matchmaking business, Project Soulmate, in 2009 with childhood friend Jennifer Zucher and wasn’t looking for TV fame when Bravo came calling. Andy Cohen loved her “big personality” and was determined to get her on-air. ”Bravo loves the love space,” Lori told me. After an eight-month courtship, she finally relented and agreed to do the show. The series was shot in eight weeks last summer. Lori admitted being a little nervous about seeing the finished product. Based on  the first episode, it seems she had nothing to worry about. In the days since the premiere, she’s been deluged with calls from folks looking to make a love connection, including plenty of mothers looking to find mates for their sons. Says Lori, “I realize just how good this could be for our business.” Yup.

The married Manhattan mother of two told me that she’s always been a “natural connector” matching friends, family and strangers with potential mates, ‘Mommy’ friends, nannies and even housekeepers. But she’s clearly most passionate about helping people find love. “No one can’t live without love. It’s scientifically proven that married men live 10 years longer than single men,” she says. “Why isn’t love put first in people’s lives? Today people are working so hard on their lives and careers, but they don’t make time for love. It’s all about striking the right balance.” Lori works exclusively with New York clients, so I asked her why it’s so hard to find the right person in Manhattan. “It’s so easy to meet people here, but it’s really hard to connect,” she explained. “There are too many distractions.” That’s where she comes in. Most of her clients (“98 percent”) are men, and she needs “20 times the amount of women” in order to find the right mate for those looking for love. How does she do it? ”I’m fearless when it comes to love,” she says.  ”I will always go up to anyone who looks interesting and ask, ‘Are you single?’ Most people are flattered. Who wouldn’t want to meet someone great if they’re looking?”

Lori says that there is no bad place to meet “your soul mate” —  it’s just a matter of being open to the experience. The gym, Whole Foods on Sunday nights when most men do their shopping, and even jury duty are fertile ground. Just don’t go looking in places where you wouldn’t ordinarily go. ”Don’t join a runners’ club if you hate running,” she advises. “Like goes to like. Be who you are. Enjoy yourself and enjoy your life.”

Here’s a rundown on today’s crowd:

1. HollywoodLife.com editor in chief Bonnie Fuller and PMC vice chairman Gerry Byrne. In attendance: BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti, Ann Lawlor, The Weinstein Company’s Meryl Poster, fashionista Fern Mallis, Mesa Global’s Mark Patricof, style expert Jill Martin, AdWeek‘s Lisa Granatstein and HollywoodLife.com publisher Carlos Lamadrid.

2. Terry McDonnell and CBS News This Morning‘s Gayle King

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, who was brandishing a cane. A little birdie told me the mayor was hobbled by too much bronco busting. Be careful out there!

4. Wowowow.com’s Joni Evans and Liz Smith. Great to see you!

Katie Couric and Cindi Berger
Katie Couric and Cindi Berger

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Scottie Pippen Mixes It Up With the Media Mob & Does Rosie Have a New Lady Love?

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Things have been pretty busy at Michael’s this week. On Monday, none other than James Bond aka Daniel Craig dropped by. (“His eyes are so blue!” cooed one smitten staffer). Yesterday, a very laid back Rosie O’Donnell showed up with, so we’re told, a new lady love in tow, and they didn’t have to wait for one of the coveted tables at the very front of the restaurant. They settled for something further back. Today, the usual Wednesday SRO crowd started showing up well before the appointed lunch hour, leaving plenty of time for air kissing and glad handing all around.

I was joined today by Lisa Sharkey, HarperCollins’s senior vice president and director of creative development. Lisa is one hot property herself having spent 25 years in television including stints at Good Morning America, Inside Edition and Al Roker‘s production company before making the switch to publishing four and a half years ago. “The skills were totally transferable. I wanted to bring the TV model to books. I love authors. When I was in television, I was always drawn to them. Now, I consider my authors part of my family and have great relationships with them,” Lisa tells me. “I’m much happier in book publishing because there is more time to spend on a projects. Books have the power to last for generations.” Now, anyone who is anyone — or who wants to be someone — is after Lisa to publish their books. This season, Lisa had no less than four books on the New York Times best seller list, including How to Love an American Man (currently being shopped as a film project by United Talent Agency), football phenom Tim Tebow‘s Through My Eyes, and soap opera diva Susan Lucci’s memoir,  All My Life (We really loved the scathing epilogue she added to the paperback edition taking ABC president Brian Frons to the woodshed for cancelling the beloved soap, All My Children. Go Susan!)

Lisa has a full slate of upcoming books where there is something for everyone. Later this month, actress Carre Otis‘ no-holds barred memoir, Beauty Disrupted, will tell all about her relationship with Mickey Rourke. Due out in November, Imperfect Justice by Jeffrey Ashton is sure to make headlines when the Casey Anthony prosecutor offers his version of what happened behind the scenes of her trial and why is he completely convinced of Anthony’s guilt. “The prosecutor’s story is the real story of the trial. He’s got a lot to say,” says Lisa. No doubt.  On the other end of the spectrum, HarperCollins has a slew of celebrity titles this fall including the first novel penned by those ubiquitous Kardashian sisters, which was Lisa’s idea. The book, due out November 15, spins a fictional (but no doubt inspired by real life) tale of three sisters growing up with a famous father in Hollywood. “The fun is trying to figure out what’s real disguised as fiction,” says Lisa. There was quite a fracas coming up with a title. Lisa wanted to call it Keeping Up but, she told me, the powers that be at E! put the kibosh on the idea saying that was their brand. Lisa then came up with the idea of launching a contest on Twitter asking followers to come up with their own titles. The winning entry, Dollhouse, was submitted by a gal named Courtney who will herself be written into the book as a wedding planner. Savvy Lisa, who is always coming up with clever ways to market her books, decided the cover will be in leopard print and is hoping to do a special edition adorned with Swarovski crystal (“Kim loves bling!”). The sisters’ fans can also turn the cover over for a special keepsake poster that is sure to find its way into plenty of teen bedrooms.

As for the general state of the industry, Lisa weighs in with this: “Publishing is in a new transformative stage. The new wave of eBooks has opened up a world of possibilities. For those who are addicted to technology and books, it’s the perfect fit.”  To wit: HarperCollins’ eBook version of Sammy Hagar‘s best selling memoir, Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock, featured enhanced content that included a sit-down with Hagar talking about his career at the end of each chapter. Lisa and her team expect the eBook version of Gregg Allman‘s yet-to-be-titled memoir due out next year to have a wide range of enhanced content. By the way, I got a glimpse of the book’s stunning cover and it has best seller written all over it.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Fashionista Mickey Ateyeh with an impressive crowd of power lunch gals: producer Fran Weissler, Fern Mallis (looking fabulous since being on the mend from two broken elbows), Cindy Lewis, Barbara Cutler and Laurie Tisch

2. Six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen, with PR gal Tammy Brooks and some other lovely looking ladies we didn’t get to meet.

3. Proprietor Michael McCarty holding court with Mort Hamburg (Nice to meet you!) and another formidable looking fellow

4. Peter Brown with the very chic Judith Czelusniak. Read more

Ed Rollins’ Wife on His Departure from Bachmann’s Campaign

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Put away those summer whites — but keep that rain gear handy!  Now that Labor Day is history, the town car set has returned from their summer sojourns and is gearing up for the power lunch season. The Wednesday crowd at Michael’s isn’t back to full tilt just yet, but there were enough suits and swells in the dining room to signal that play time is over.

I was joined today by PR maven extraordinaire Catherine Saxton who is gearing up for a very busy fall season. She’s juggling a number of exciting events including Eric Trump‘s charity golf tournament benefiting St.Jude’s Children’s Hospital coming up next week in Westchester (Amanda Seyfried and Brooklyn Decker are both schedule to attend) and a multi-day culinary competition kicking off September 22 and 23 in Times Square. For the latter, 72 Chinese chefs will battle it out to have their cuisine served at the “Emperor’s Banquet” on Sunday, September 25 at Pier 60.

After lunch, Catherine introduced me to Shari Rollins, wife of veteran Republican strategist Ed Rollins who yesterday announced he was stepping down as Michele Bachmann‘s presidential campaign chief due to health reasons. When I asked Shari to weigh in on her 68-year-old husband’s headline-making decision, she told me: “Politics is tough — it’s a young man’s game. Ed is young in spirit, but not in body. Those 14-hour days were grueling. He’s a great husband and a great father, and I’m happy he’s taking care of himself. He’s doing great and thinks the world of Michelle.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Warner Music Group’s Lyor Cohen (Tory Burch‘s main squeeze), presiding over a table full of business types

2. Fashionista Mickey Ateyeh, sporting a glorious tan she got while on holiday in the south of France, with Meredith Finney

3. Steve Mosko

4. Wowowow’s Liz Smith (Loved the baby blue leather jacket!) and Joni Evans with, so we’re told, a Dr. Schindler.

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Richard Belzer, Deborah Norville & the Real Ari Gold!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The dog days have arrived. Just ask Richard Belzer, who showed up in the Michael’s dining room today with his pooch tucked under his arm. (No word on what Fido ordered.) The rest of the crowd barely noticed as the usual media mavens, publicists and Hollywood types table hopped and air kissed like crazy. Who has time for a summer vacation when there’s business to be done?

I was lunching today with Dr. Brent Ridge, one of the stars of Planet Green’s new reality show, The Fabulous Beekman Boys. The show chronicles the lives of Brent and his partner, Josh Kilmer-Purcell, as the fish-out-of-water couple turn their Sharon Springs, New York farm into the epicenter of their new organic lifestyle brand. It’s the perfect antidote, says Brent, to the tawdry and toxic tone of other reality shows (Jersey Shore, anyone?). “It’s inspirational and educational,” says the TV star and cookbook author.

However, it’s not without the requisite drama as the boys attempt to juggle their big city careers with life down on the farm with their goats, pigs and llamas. Brent says the biggest adjustment living life in front of the camera has been dealing with how much time it takes to shoot a single episode. Since producers wanted to show just what happens season-to-season on a working farm, the shooting has stretched over several months versus the usual few weeks. “I had no concept what it took,” says Brent, who found himself scrambling after wrapping one episode when he had mere hours to get 14,000 bars of his organic soap hand wrapped and shipped.

Brent, who once toiled under Martha Stewart as vice president of Healthy Living, is also the creative force behind an upcoming auction of heirloom vegetables at Sotheby’s benefiting The New Farmer Development Project NYC and The Sylvia Center. It’s the kick off event of “Eat Drink Local” week and, says Brent, will bring out the who’s who of the city’s culinary community, many of whom will be cooking a course at the launch dinner. If you’ve got a craving to get an up close and personal look at life with Brent and Josh, you can bid on a weekend at the farm on Ebay next month or just tune in. The Fabulous Beekman Boys airs tonight at 9 on Planet Green.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Half of ‘The Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Michael Kramer

2. Public relations maestro Paul Wilmot

3. William Morris’ Sam Haskell and a bespectacled gal we didn’t recognize.

4. Producers John Hart and Fred Zollo with a young mystery gal.

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Lunch: TV Titans, Ivana Trump, & Devo!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

You never know who you’re going to meet on any given Wednesday at Michael’s. I’ve chatted with former presidents, Oscar winners, and tabloid targets who have made the usually unflappable crowd turn and stare, but it’s those unexpected, below the radar moments that are often the most fun. When GM Steve Millington introduced me to Jerry Casale of Devo, one of my favorite ’80s bands, I was delighted. Just last week, I’d just seen Pearl Jam’s cover of the group’s famous anthem, “Whip It,” on YouTube where they wore copies of those infamous yellow jumpsuits and red flowerpot hats. I asked Jerry if he’d known about the act in advance. “No, and I wished they’d told me,” he joked. “I would have been able to tell them about the hard hat holders we wore to keep our hats in place. They had to settle for those silly elastic straps under their chins.” Still, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, says Jerry. “I’ve gotten so many calls since it wound up in Rolling Stone and gone viral. It’s a lot of fun.”

Larry Kramer joined me for lunch today and was excited to tell me all about his upcoming book, Talespin, which was bought by HarperCollins earlier this fall (Freddie Friedman agented the deal). In it, Larry tackles the idea of how all businesses are grappling with “the recreation of storytelling” from publishing to retailing. The game has changed, says Larry, especially in media. He takes “the media guys” to task for “protecting the business model instead of the business.” Besides getting top executives from here and abroad to weigh in (in his reporting Larry discovered Europe was way ahead of the curve in adapting to a changing multi-platform world) — the book is a sum total of Larry’s experience in “the old and new worlds of media.” In addition to his two decades as a reporter and editor for top papers including The Washington Postand the San Francisco Examiner, Larry founded MarketWatch in 1997 and has helmed CBS Digital Media. These days, he’s consulting for a cross section of media ventures including Discovery Networks and The Weather Channel. In January, Larry will begin teaching a graduate level course at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School where some of the lectures will be Skyped in and students will be “embedded” into companies to study their strategies first hand.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Cosmo editrix Kate White with a table full of gals we didn’t get to meet.

2. Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, uber agent Ed Victor and Don Epstein of Greater Talent Network.

4. Author Ed Klein and Owen Laster

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Lunch: Special Evening Edition as Michael’s Celebrates 20 Years

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— DIANE CLEHANE

As much as we enjoy observing the social customs of the various media tribes during our Wednesday lunches at Michael’s, we jumped at the chance to mingle with the natives last night as they roamed free from the pecking order in the dining room. Michael McCarty threw himself quite a blowout to celebrate 20 years at 55th & Fifth, and a few hundred of his closest friends came out to mark the occasion.

By the time I arrived a little after six there was a line out the door where I crossed paths with my good pals — and Michael’s stalwarts — Lisa Linden and Nielsen’s Gerry Byrne. “I thought I’d get here early and beat the crowd,” Lisa told me. Nothing doing as we inched our way into the packed dining room. A camera crew from LX New York was there as the man of the hour personally greeted each guest at the door with a slap on the back (for the guys) and air kisses (for the gals). Michael’s wife, the talented artist Kim McCarty, whose artwork adorns the restaurant’s walls, beamed with pride. Just another fabulous night out in New York …

Here’s a rundown of the ‘cool kids’ who finished their homework in time to make it out Wednesday night.

Glamour editrix Cindi Leive (loved the leopard!) was chatting with attorney Lorie Almon (“She knows everybody!”) about next Monday night’s Women of the Year awards. Thanks for the invite; we can’t wait. When I asked Cindi what keeps her coming back to Michael’s she told me, “I like the food; I don’t even have to look at the menu. And I get to see people in my world, so I can check off that box. I’m a creature of habit.” Makes sense to us.

The fabulous fashionista, Fern Mallis sailed by, and I just had to ask her whether she’d heard if there was going to be another season of her reality show, The Fashion Show with Isaac Mizrahi. No word yet from Bravo, says Fern. Stay tuned.

I stopped by the bar to say hello to HarperCollins’ David Hirshey and my old friend Michael Solomon, and we got into a lively discussion about our mutual obsession with Mad Men. The show’s season finale airs Sunday, and we’re all on the edge of our seats wondering if desperate housewife Betty will leave her unraveling husband Don Draper for that irksome Henry Francis. We decided that if it were up to us the couple would stay together unhappily ever after, but chances are series creator Matt Weiner has something else in store. Michael, who I got to know when we were both working for TV Guide, now toils for The Daily Beast as features director. After some catching up, we had a nice OTR chat about the good old days when people could still make a living as print journalists.

When I bumped into Investigation Discovery honcho Henry Schleiff, I offered my congratulations on his network’s new show, On the Case with Paula Zahn, which is garnering some good reviews. Kudos!

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Lunch: Christiane Amanpour Draws an A-List Crowd

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— DIANE CLEHANE

On the menu at Michael’s today: a tasty stew of media mavens and moguls with a heaping helping of famous faces on the side. We could barely keep up with the goings-on in the dining room, since every other minute there was some boldface name heading to the Garden Room for CNN’s lunch to celebrate Christiane Amanpour‘s new show. We spied Gayle King, Cynthia McFadden, Joni Evans, Gloria Steinem, and Harry Evans among the scribes invited to cover the soiree. (Nice to see you, Steve Krakauer!) Our own TVNewser Kevin Allocca editor was there, too.

I was lunching today with Carrie Kania, senior vice president and publisher of It Books and Harper Perennial. It Books, HarperCollins’ hip new imprint, is tapping into the zeitgeist with a fall list brimming with of-the-moment tomes including Twitter Wit (Who knew so many people could write such witty Tweets?) and the just released I Love Your Style by the uber stylish Amanda Brooks. “I love the book because it shows how fashion evolves,” Carrie told me. I Love Your Style is full of fabulous images of timeless style icons like Jackie Kennedy, Ali McGraw and Charlotte Rampling as well as today’s trendsetters like Natalie Portman. It’s also got plenty of great ideas and tips on how to identify and develop a style that’s truly one’s own. Carrie is just as passionate about the classics on Harper Perennial’s backlist. “So many 13 and 14 year-old girls have not read The Bell Jar; I want to help them find it.” Seems like Carrie is on a mission to get everyone she can excited about publishing: she’s also teaching the New York University graduate course ‘Introduction to Publishing.’ Says Carrie of her gig that spends eights weeks focused on books and another eight on magazines: “I take the students through every step from acquisition to marketing. The mentoring I got early on was invaluable to me, and I want to help people like that. There is no better business to be in.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. My good friend, public relations maven Lisa Linden (Happy Belated Birthday!) and her partner, Steven Alschuler — their firm, Linden, Alschuler & Kaplan works with plenty of Gotham’s movers and shakers in real estate, government and philanthropy, in case you didn’t know — with former senator Nick Spano and his colleague from Empire Strategic Planning, Perry Ochacher.

2. Most of the ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Andy Bergman. Where were Jeff Greenfield and Michael Kramer?

3. Diane Sokolow and a formidable-looking fellow we didn’t recognize

4. Producer Bill Haber and television legend Norman Lear

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