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Posts Tagged ‘Linn Tanzman’

Lunch: Where the Magic Happens

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I thought I’d seen just about everything from my regular perch at Michael’s during my weekly visits, but today topped all. They were serving up sides of card tricks with the Cobb salads today and the gang was just eating it up. When I arrived, illusionist JB Benn was standing at the bar shuffling a deck of playing cards for Frank Gifford as his pals Hunter Millington — yes, Steve‘s brother — and Chris Graham looked on. He asked the gridiron great to sign a card and place it back in the deck. After a great deal of slow-mo shuffling, he finally pulled out the very same card from a sealed envelope in his jacket pocket.”I better make sure I’ve still got my watch,” quipped Frank. JB then drafted me into service asking me how many dollar bills he was holding in his hands. Frank and I both agreed he had four single dollars. Literally, right before our eyes the bills turned into hundreds. Within minutes, a crowd had gathered and there were gasps all around. I wouldn’t be surprised if JB is now booked between now and 2010 as the entertainment at parties from the Upper East Side to Easthampton as result of his impromptu performance this afternoon.

The utterly charming and adorable Mr. Benn (“He looks like a better-looking Tom Cruise,” said one smitten diner) made the rounds in the dining room eliciting applause all around. When I saw how wowed Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb were after the illusionist worked his magic on them, I suggested they might want to have him on the show to make ‘Sam the Cooking Guy’ disappear. In case you haven’t heard, Sam caused quite a stir on Today last Wednesday’s show in a segment during the fourth hour when he basically told the co-hosts to shut up and let him talk about his salad when he thought they had gotten too chatty. Sam clearly didn’t know what to do when he realized he had actually verbalized what he was thinking. He then sputtered out the ingredients of his salad while Kathie Lee and Hoda just watched him squirm — a classic TV moment. But, says Kathie Lee, Sam isn’t banished from the set. “I’m big on second chances,” she says. But be warned, Sam. “I forgive — but I don’t forget.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Woody Johnson (sporting a discreet ‘McCain‘ button) and a squadron of suits. Just asking: Is the Jets’ owner advising Michael’s on personal seat licensing?

2. Three members of the ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerry Imber, Andy Berger and Jerry Della Femina. I had a great chat with Jerry about AMC’s runaway hit “Mad Men.” (If you haven’t tuned in, check it out on Sunday nights at 10 p.m. It’s the best dramatic series on television right now — seriously) Turns out the legendary ad man was one of a select few that got an early look at the script for the series’ pilot because creator Matthew Weiner wanted to make sure he got every detail right, from the Brooks Brothers suits worn by the execs to the nonstop smoking that helped fuel the creative fire on Madison Avenue in the early sixties. Jerry, who had a “four pack a day” habit back then, says the show has been a boon for business. “For the longest time nobody wanted to be in advertising. Everybody wanted to be an investment banker. Now, because of the show, people are talking about advertising again. It’s revitalized the industry. I’m back in fashion again!” Indeed.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, producer Joan Gelman and marketing strategist and frequent CNN contributor Robert Zimmerman (glad to hear you’re a ‘Lunch’ fan!). Before my good pal Joe — who is jetting off to Europe this week for a much-deserved vacation — and his fellow Democratic boosters settled down for lunch they, too, were dazzled by Mr. Benn’s sleight of hand. Before they could dash off to their table I asked Robert, who is privy to the inner workings of the Democratic party, for his thoughts on who will be Barack Obama’s running mate. The suddenly taciturn strategist demurred, but offered his thoughts on who it should be — “Joe Armstrong, of course.” Remember, you heard it here first.

4. Gerald Schoenfeld and Carnegie Hall head Clive Gillinson

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Lunch at Michael’s: Ken Sunshine: Lindsay’s Woes Are ‘Beyond PR Issues’

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We’ve truly hit the dog days of summer when there isn’t one Fiji water sipping-celeb in sight come high noon at 55th & Fifth. Luckily, that didn’t mean there was a shortage of Tinseltown talk in the dining room. The topic du jour — what else? — Lindsay Lohan’s latest arrest on suspicion of DUI. (For those two people who’ve been on the moon, it’s the starlet’s second bust in three months and comes on the heels of her recent 45-day stay at Promises and her big show of wearing an ankle bracelet that was supposedly programmed to detect any alcohol in her system). “If I were her publicist,” sighed one media maven, “I’d have my head in the oven.” Uber publicist Ken Sunshine, who represents one-time rehabber Ben Affleck, told me he’d received “tons of calls” from outlets near and far to weigh in on Lohan’s dire straits and said, “Her problems are beyond PR issues.” The Today Show‘s Marc Victor says Lohan’s relapse is sure to focus attention on the country club-like atmosphere of facilities that cater to coddled celebs: “That’s certainly something that will be looked at now.” The general consensus among today’s crowd is that this story has gone from tabloid train wreck to a truly tragic tale. “She needs compassion,” said Lisa Sharkey, Harper Collins’ senior vice president and director of creative development who, together with the house’s executive editor, Maureen O’Brien, was lunching with Sunshine. No doubt that’s exactly what the editors of Us Weekly, In Touch and TMZ.com are thinking …

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

1. Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina, Gerald Imber and another gentleman we didn’t recognize.

2. Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, Today‘s Marc Victor and Men’s Health editor Dave Zinczenko. Our pal Dave was overheard thanking Esquire‘s David Granger for putting a call into none other than George Clooney inviting him to speak at the upcoming American Magazine Conference about his work in Darfur. (Politicians are so last year!) To entice the Oscar winner, seems plans are in the works to see if there’s a way to “incentive-ize” publishers into offering ad space to help promote Clooney’s off-screen endeavor.

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