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Posts Tagged ‘Linda Wachner’

Anderson Cooper, Andrew Stein and Serenading Socialites

1003_mockup.gifThe scene at Michael’s today was positively Fellini-esque. Just when the joint was firing on all cylinders (even every seat at the bar was spoken for),  the dining room was stunned into silence when the ladies who lunch led by Joan Jakobson at Table One gave an impromptu acapella performance of “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” You get it all here, folks. Cobb salads with a serenade on the side. This being Michael’s, of course, the power lunch crowd gave the gals the floor just long enough to belt out their tune and then, without missing a beat, turned their attention back to hatching their next big deal. Alrighty then.

I was joined today by Janis Provisor and Debi Wisch, the dynamic duo behind Janis Provisor Jewelry whose business cards boast the tagline “wildly eccentric beaded collectibles.” They are also just gorgeous. Janis, an accomplished artist and painter whose work has been shown all over the world, including at the National Gallery and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, got into the jewelry business by accident. “It started out as a hobby, turned into a job-y, and now it’s a full-fledged business!” Janis told me.

It all began in 2006 when Debi, a former marketing consultant and publicist, got Janis to do a trunk show in Debi’s Manhattan home.  Janis and Debi had met a decade before when they were both living in Hong Kong and Janis, who was developed a carpet collection, showed up at Debi’s home with a swatch. Years later, over lunch, both women were wanting to do something new and came up with the idea for Janis to make one-of-a-kind necklaces from the stones she’d collected from her worldwide travels. Voila! Janis’ oversize beaded necklaces, luxurious lavalieres and chunky chokers (all boasting unexpected pairings of precious and semi-precious stones) were an immediate sell-out among the stylish set. “Our customers are smart, independent women with their own money,” Debi told me. “Rarely do I hear, ‘I have to ask my husband’ before someone buys something.” And it’s a good thing. Entry points range from $1,400 for earrings to $4,000 to $7,000 for a necklace. Not exactly something you could pass off with the usual, “Oh no, this isn’t new. I’ve had it forever.”

Janis Provisor, Diane Clehane and Debi Wisch
Janis Provisor, Diane Clehane and Debi Wisch

While most of the collection is sold at invitation-only trunk shows at swanky locales (If you happen to be in Kona in August, you might want to drop in on the next show at Seaside Luxe, but do RSVP first ), the luxe looks are also sold at Julianne in Port Washington and Gail Rothwell in East Hampton. Janis also has an exhibition of the jewels at Winston Wachter Gallery in Chelsea. By foregoing the usual retail route, the partners have been able to build the business (“People just find us”) carefully offering one-of-a-kind pieces and other collectibles to a very discriminating clientele. (CNN’s Alina Cho is a fan) ”The goal is to make only what we’d want to own, and that’s what we continue to do,” said Debi, who was adorned with several of Janis’ dazzling designs today.

Janis told me she often sits with the artisans in China while the pieces are being made to personally describe her vision for the design (“I don’t cast”), and she works with the craftsman in Bali where her 22kt gold work is done. “I am very hands-on,” she said, “with everything.” I’ll say. The company is 100 percent self-supported, and the women wouldn’t have it any other way. It seems to be working. Janis Provisor Jewelry will be moving into a brand new studio salon this summer where Janis and Debi hope to put together small groups of “interesting women” to exchange ideas, network and, of course, buy some serious jewelry.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

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Lunch: Jermaine Jackson Stops By Michael’s

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The joint was jumping today at Michael’s as usual, but there’s always room for one more when the random headline-grabbing celebrity makes an unannounced appearance. No matter that Jermaine Jackson showed up with publicist Marilyn Crawford without a reservation — they got a prime spot in the dining room. “Next to the wall!” commanded Marilyn after declining the first table offered up and settling in for what must have been a dishy lunch. We can understand why Jermaine was accompanied by a bodyguard (although he needn’t have worried as the Michael’s crowd tried their best not to stare), but we’re a bit confused about the man purse he was sporting.

My good friend Linda Fairstein joined me today to celebrate the upcoming publication of her 12th novel, Hell Gate, due out in March. It’s her first book for Dutton, and she says she’s thrilled to work with the imprint’s “smart, young, and enthusiastic” team. Her last book, Lethal Legacy, which was an instant bestseller last year, is just out in paperback this week. No one is better at promoting books than Linda. (She extensively outlined her multi-platform strategy in our So What Do You Do? interview last year). On Friday, she is shooting a video for her website at Gracie Mansion, which figures prominently in the new book. The title refers to the roaring stretch of water where the Harlem and East Rivers meet near the historic federal mansion in Manhattan. “Even though I kill someone there in my book, they still decided to let us shoot there. I’m thrilled,” says Linda.

Just as we were discussing her website, designed by her nephew Marc Fairstein, a gal leaned over from Kate White’s table and whispered to Linda, “I absolutely love your site! It’s so well done.” Turns out this gal knows a thing or two about eye-catching sites for authors, because she’s the creative force behind Kate White’s site. “Kate’s been keeping you a secret all these years!” joked Linda who is good pals with the Cosmo editrix. Linda and Kate have known each other “forever,” and Linda has been writing pieces about true crime for Cosmo timed to the publication of her books for several years. What are friends for?

Linda also tells me that Kate (who must not need a lot of sleep) has a new book coming out in March entitled Hush which is “darker and more chilling” than anything she’s done before. Send us the galleys pronto, please!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Freddie Gershon (“I’m a Table One person from way back”) and attorney Elliot Brown.

2. Peter Brown

3. My good pals ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, producer Joan Gelman and politico Robert Zimmerman. Joe told me he’s just back from Washington, D.C. where he visited the White House: “But I was invited!” The Mayor picked up this year’s commemorative Christmas ornament in the gift shop as a present for fellow democrat Kerry Kennedy. He gave the twinkling trinket to his pal at lunch today since she was sitting nearby.

4. Cosmetic titan Leonard Lauder, who spent most of lunch going through a pile of papers with an unidentified gorgeous young blonde gal.

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Lunch: Warren Buffett Dines & Dashes

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— DIANE CLEHANE

How about a side order of sound investment advice with that salmon? When none other than Warren Buffett showed up at Michael’s today, every head in the dining room turned his way. Even if he is ‘the world’s greatest investor,’ this legend is, by all accounts, fairly low-key when dining out. He ambled over to his table without a fuss and waited patiently for his date, Fortune‘s Carol Loomis, who has written extensively on him.

It seemed money was on everyone’s mind today. When I sat down, I found myself right next to Cosmopolitan‘s Kate White as she lunched with Jean Chatzky, the financial guru who dispenses tips on the Today show and Oprah. When Kate asked, “Do you have any questions for Jean?” I wasn’t sure where to start. So, I decided to go with whether we’d seen the bottom of the market. Jean replied, “I think we could still see some dips, but that doesn’t mean I’m not investing.” Being a financial novice myself, I also queried her on why there’s so much talk about the recession being over when employment continues to climb. She explained, “The markets are the leading indicator” while the unemployment statistics “lag a bit behind.” All of us agreed that, based on all the folks we know who are under-employed or who have just given up searching for jobs all together at the moment, the unemployment figure is actually much higher than what’s reported. I guess that means don’t take all of that money out from underneath your mattress just yet.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Mrs. Martin Bregman and pals, so we’re told.

2. The New York Post‘s Keith Kelly (love the beard!) and a fellow we didn’t recognize.

3. Warren Buffett and Carol Loomis were in and out before we even got our salads. Guess that proves the old adage ‘time is money!’

4. Men’s Health honcho Dave Zinczenko and William Morris’ Jon Rosen. Dave is everywhere these days promoting the 2010 edition of Eat This, Not That! and its low-cal cousin, Eat This, Not That! Restaurant Survival Guide: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution. Watch out Zagats! He’s been on the Today show, Extra, and The Bonnie Hunt Show of late to reveal the staggering fat and calorie counts of some seemingly innocent-looking food. (Did you know Cosi’s Cobb salad has a whopping 55 grams of fat? Now you do!) Dave told me he was headed off to tape a segment on Rachel Ray after lunch. Perhaps he’ll helm his own show one day soon. Stay tuned.

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Lunch: Andre Leon Talley Stops By — and Hugh Jackman is Coming Tonight!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Our invitation to tonight’s party for Joel Grey hosted by Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborah Lee Furness, must have gotten lost in the mail. Oh well. The dining room was jam-packed with the Wednesday regulars in action, so there was plenty to keep us entertained. I was also happy to catch up with some pals I hadn’t seen in a while. When my friend Andre Leon Talley swept through the door resplendent in a rose-hued Prada coat and “raspberry velvet” custom-made Manolo Blahnik sandals, I was thrilled that he had time for a chat before joining George Malkemus for lunch.

I just had to ask him what he thought about Morley Safer‘s segment on Anna Wintour that aired on 60 Minutes a few weeks back. “I was really impressed with their research,” said Andre, who reported that the show spent weeks at Vogue‘s offices and trekked to Europe for the collections to cover Anna in action and get many of fashion’s most famous faces to weigh in on her decades-long reign at the style bible. We both agreed that Morley sounded a wee bit contemptuous of the players and the game. The newsman’s occasional barbs thrown into the piece — including an observation that Karl Lagerfeld dressed like Count Dracula (“He’s had that look for eight years!”) and that all Vogue‘s young staffers have to be skinny — were “a bit dismissive,” said Andre. (I did love when Anna said that on a recent trip to Minnesota she found most of the folks resembled “little houses.”) Andre reports Anna was “thrilled” with the piece. “It’s 60 Minutes — she was on the same show as Secretary Gates. It was fabulous,” proclaimed Andre.

Today, he was taking a break between the resort presentations that designers were hosting around town in their showrooms this week. “The resort shows are fabulous,” he reports. “It’s become a much more interesting season where people are really doing some fabulous things.” Among the highlights so far: Diane von Furstenberg‘s “Going to Rio”-inspired collection with everything a girl needs all packed into one bag (“It’s her best collection in three years”), Zac Posen‘s ruched silk lame jeans and “major” shoes — especially the sexy lace d’Orsay numbers. Andre also gave high marks to Michael Kors‘ batik prints. “There are a lot of great clothes and great items that women will want to buy.” Music to a lot of retailers’ ears, no doubt.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Conde Nast’s Lou Cona and the dashing Daniel Lalonde, president and CEO of Louis Vuitton, presiding over a table full of movers and shakers.

2. Peter Brown

3. Judith Verno

4. Stephen Swid and a blonde gal we didn’t recognize

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Lunch: Dishing With Dolly Parton

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Sure, it’s fun checking in with the media mavens and moguls during our weekly Wednesday outings at Michael’s, but sometimes it’s the random celebrity sighting that can be the most entertaining. When I heard that Dolly Parton was coming today, I was really looking forward to chatting with her. I first sat down with her and Jane Fonda way back when there was some big anniversary for her breakthrough film, 9 to 5. Of all the celebrities I’ve interviewed over the years, Dolly was by far one of the least pretentious. The hair, the outrageous outfits, the nails — the boobs — it’s all part of a perfectly calibrated persona that is as compelling today as it was back then.

When she arrived in the dining room, every head turned. Trust me, she’s like no one you’ve ever seen. At 63, she looked like a living doll with her expertly made-up ageless face, Barbie doll suit (paired with sheer black leggings), that famous platinum mane, and shoes that no other human being could possibly walk in. When I stopped her to chat, she gave me a big smile and grabbed my hand. “Of course I remember you!” she drawled when I explained when we last spoke. I almost believed her — she’s that genuine. When I asked her how things were going with 9 to 5 set to debut on Broadway next week (she wrote 40 songs for the show; 16 made it into the production), she said, “We’re working like crazy just tweaking little things until we get it right. We’re working ’til midnight. I’m really enjoying myself!” Then she sailed in to meet her producer Bob Greenblatt (Showtime’s president), Matt Blank and the rest of her table.

I was dining today with my good pal Kathryn Leigh Scott, who is one of the most prolific women I know. She’s written so many books I’ve lost count (and is currently working on two — one fiction and one nonfiction). But her really big news involves the article she’s penned on “the star and the stalker” for Opera News, due out in August. Kathryn has left no stone unturned in the account of the downside of divadom, which chronicles the complicated and chilling relationship between legendary opera star Birgit Nilsson and her stalker, model Nell Theobald. Kathryn uncovers some startling details in her report, which has attracted the attention of some Hollywood bigwigs: “There’s some interest in the dramatic rights,” Kathryn tells me. Like they say in Tinseltown, stay tuned…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Dolly Parton, Showtime’s Matt Blank and Bob Greenblatt and Lee Resnick. There was also an imposing looking fellow at the table who, from the looks of things, keeps things running smoothly for Dolly. I’m guessing you wouldn’t want to mess with him…

2. The first lady of New York, Michelle Paterson, and Jackie Rogers. For the moment, at least, it seems as if her husband’s dismal poll numbers weren’t top of mind: We spotted Michelle yukking it up as she enjoyed some white wine with her friend.

3. Dan Abrams and CNBC’s Brian Steel (Glad to hear you’re a ‘Lunch’ loyalist!)

4. Expectant father Les Moonves (congrats!) and Viacom’s Philippe Dauman. When Michael McCarty offered the television titan a hearty greeting of “Dad!” Les looked a little sheepish and uttered, “I’m an old man.” What’s that old saying about kids keeping you young? Please extend our congratulations to the missus, Julie Chen.

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Lunch: Andre Leon Talley — Media Star!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We missed Blythe Danner by a day. Too bad, I would have loved to have asked her what she thinks of her daughter’s goofy — but strangely compelling — Web site, GOOP. It’s the gospel according to Gwyneth, where she holds forth on all things great and small — from how to wear a little black dress to how she got rid of her ‘Shar-Pei-like stomach’ after her pregnancies (I’m not kidding). No matter. The dining room was jam-packed, as it’s been for weeks on Wednesdays now. Even the bar was standing room only. I was happy to catch up with my pals ‘The Bar-ettes’ Kira Semler and Vi Huse (They had to cancel a few weeks back because of that dreadful storm). But today spring was in the air, and from the looks of things, everyone was feeling upbeat.

I was thrilled when my friend Andre Leon Talley asked me to join him and Linda Wachner for coffee. Looking dapper as can be, Vogue‘s main man was fresh off his appearance on Today this morning, where he chatted with Meredith Vieira (“She was so easy to talk to”) about his much-anticipated March cover story on Michelle Obama. “I’m really proud of it,” says Andre of his exclusive up close and personal profile of the First Lady. There had been plenty of speculation on whether Mrs. Obama would be gracing the cover of the fashion bible after her hairdresser (who is getting his own reality show) semi-spilled the beans, but Andre says everyone at Vogue was sworn to secrecy. Now that it’s official, he’s making the rounds to talk about what it was like to spend time with the First Lady for the piece. He taped a segment for NBC Nightly News this morning, and he was off to do a sit-down after lunch with Wolf Blitzer (and he’s going back to CNN for a second appearance tomorrow). With so much interest surrounding the story and accompanying images, I’m predicting the issue will be one of the magazine’s strongest sellers ever. “I think it’s going to be huge,” says Andre. It’s a pretty safe bet, I’d say …

Andre told me he was struck by the First Lady’s “focus and clarity” about her new life and, of course, was duly impressed by her fierce determination and commitment to give her girls as normal a life as possible. “She doesn’t want them to grow up in a bubble,” he reports. Andre saw the bond between mother and daughters firsthand as he made the seven-hour train ride with the Obamas as they journeyed from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. to the inauguration. It was something to see, he said, when the girls threw their mom a surprise birthday party on the train, having spent two hours decorating the car in secret. Michelle was understandably thrilled, says Andre. “Her genuine warmth is amazing.” We both agree it’s high time interesting people who are actually doing something push the 11-pound, 11 year-old celebutantes who are famous for being famous from the spotlight. Could it be that ‘smart’ is the new cool? Here’s hoping…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Kevin Huvane (who got hugs from the staff upon his arrival) and a mystery gent…

2. The Early shift: Dennis Basso and Marjorie Gubelman; Second seating: Bruce Wasserstein and his lovely daughter Pamela.

3. CNBC’s Jonathan Wald and Dan Abrams. When I stopped by to say hello, they told me the two “old friends” were having a “catch up” lunch. The Late Show: Lanky Luke Janklow and a distinguished gray-haired gal.

4. Jack Kliger

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Lunch at Michael’s: Teddy, Liz & The Gang

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgThe dining room at Michael’s was buzzing today with moguls and media mavens who did more than the usual amount of table-hopping between bites — standing-room only in the bustling lounge as the regulars and requisite movers and shakers were out in force. (Liz! Lesley! The “Mayor”!) Even the bar was a power perch: captain of industry Teddy Forstmann and a mysterious dark-haired beauty were deep in coversation tucked away in the corner. They may not have been checking out the scene from their stools but we were:

1. Gotham’s greatest local line-up — anchorwomen and reporters Peri Peltz, Jane Hansen (love the longer chic ‘do!), Rosanna Scotto, Penny Crone and Lynn White. We’d love to know what the headlines from this afternoon were after this crowd was through dishing and dining …

2. Producer Jonathan Hart and guest.

3. “Mayor” Joe Armstrong and Men’s Health honcho Dave Zinczenko. The always dashing duo chatted with today’s lunchtime chronicler, Diane Clehane, about their jam-packed itineraries. Joe is just back from his third trip with Habitat for Humanity where he was building houses (literally) in the still devastated areas of New Orleans. Says Joe: “It’s incredible. Thirty-thousand homes were lost where we were. People need to know there is still so much that needs to be done. It’s devastating.” The inexhaustible Dave is busy preparing for his first trip to the Oscars where he’ll hobnob with A-list agents and talent at the hot parties around town. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it … His Oscar pick? “I’m rooting for Scorsese.”

4. Power blondes Liz Smith and Lesley Stahl lunching with Christine Quinn (whose two discreet but imposing-looking bodyguards kept watch at the door). Could there be a 60 Minutes piece on the city council speaker in the works? We’ll have to ask Mayor Armstrong — — Liz pulled up a chair and joined Joe and Dave after her guests left and “closed the place” long after the rest of the lunch crowd departed

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