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Posts Tagged ‘Lisa Benenson’

Tom Brokaw, Vernon Jordan and the Shy Divorcee

1003_mockup.gifIt was SRO at Michael’s today. The dining room was so jam packed every sqaure inch was occupied by a mogul (Mel Karmazin!), media heavyweight (Tom Brokaw, Jon Meacham, Jeff Zucker), or social swan (divorcee of the moment, Mercedes Bass who moved to the Garden Room with pal Lynn Nesbitt when the decibel level and fabulousness of it all got to be too much).  Just a thought: if you’re looking for a quiet, out of the way lunch spot, you might want to consider going somewhere else on Wednesday.

I was joined today by Forbes‘ new editor, Randall Lane. In his new position, Randall is presiding over familiar territory to him: the lives of the ridiculously rich and ambitious. In a previous life, he was the editor of Trader Monthly which chronicled the age of excess of the Wall Streeter of days gone by.  That experience later provided plenty of fodder for his book, The Zeroes: My Misadventures in the Decade When Wall Street Went Insane. In the interim, he’s been an editor at large for Newsweek and written for The Daily Beast. Having worked with him years ago when he was the editor in chief on the startup Justice, which covered the hot trials and legal issues of the day, I was thrilled when I heard he’d gotten the top job at Forbes back in September.

Randall first worked at Forbes fresh out of college in the nineties and spent six years “chasing rich people” and working on the franchise’s venerated power lists which required (and still do) hundreds of hours of research and manpower. “In some ways, it feels like I never left,” he tells me.

Diane Clehane and Randall Lane
Randall Lane and yours truly

Since taking the helm, Randall has been on a mission to make the book more visually exciting with interesting photography (the arresting cover image of Bill Gates in the “World’s 70 Most Powerful People” issue is a winner), fresh design elements courtesy of the Brooklyn-based shop Athletics, a livelier front of book section and more in-depth profiles on people the Forbes reader wants to know about.  Exhibit A: The cover story in the November 7 issue on Dropbox’s Drew Houston, the 28 year-old mogul who turned down Steve Jobs and is now worth $600 million which drew one million hits on Forbes.com.

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Lunch: Cindi Leive, Harold Ford, Jr. & The Gang

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We heard we missed quite a scene yesterday when the dining room was filled with the likes of dirty joke diva Sarah Silverman, Pedro Almodovar, Harvey Weinstein and his oh-so-fashionable wife, designer Georgina Chapman, Ron Perelman and a long list of other movers and shakers. But there were plenty of fabulous folks to chat with today, so I made the rounds before they got down to business over their Cobb salads.

I was delighted to see ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, who had been across the pond enjoying some time in London and missing from his regular perch at Michael’s for several weeks. He’s right back into the swing of things, having been at Sunday night’s Tony Awards to see his friend Sir Elton John, who wrote the music for 10-time award winner Billy Elliot celebrate with the cast on their big night. Monday night Joe attended the benefit for Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp hosted by Julia Roberts, Robert Redford and some other A-listers. “We raised $2.5 million,” reports Joe, who volunteers at the camp every summer. “It’s great to see all of Paul’s work is still going strong.” Joe was lunching today with the charming — and funny — Harold Ford, Jr., chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council who moonlights as a news analyst for MSNBC.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield and Andy Bergman.

2. A dapper duo: Nielsen Business Media’s Gerry Byrne and Henry Schleiff. I stopped by Gerry’s table to catch up since we last crossed paths at Showtime’s party for Nurse Jackie and its star, Edie Falco. Coincidentally, Gerry, who is one of the greatest guys in the business, is getting a ‘Made in New York’ Award from the mayor’s office next Monday night and his fellow honoree is none other than Edie. Small world.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Harold Ford, Jr.

4. Stan Shuman with another gent we didn’t recognize…

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Lunch: Dishing With The Usual Suspects

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The regulars were out in force today at Michael’s as media mavens, moguls and social types were deep in conversation around the jam-packed dining room. Everyone, it seems, had plenty to talk about, including the terrible news of Natasha Richardson‘s skiing accident. “I can’t believe it,” one diner told me. “It was sickening to see the coverage last night — especially the premature reports of her death.” The consensus at Michael’s was that there was a lot of irresponsible reporting that seemed more interested in being first than being right. Today, thank goodness, the reports seem more measured and everyone is awaiting an official word from the family. I had the opportunity to meet the talented Ms. Richardson at Michael’s on several occasions last year and she was always utterly gracious and lovely. My thoughts go out to her and her family.

Today I was lunching with Lisa Linden of Linden, Alschuler & Kaplan, Inc. public relations. A tireless gal who is as nice as she is busy. Lisa — who started the firm with Steve Alschuler 16 years ago (Lloyd Kaplan joined three years later)– reports that despite the gloomy economic climate, business is on solid ground. It’s no wonder. The principals bring a wealth of experience to their clients, having toiled in a host of positions including stints in city and state government (Lisa and Steve both served at various times as press secretary to Senator Roy Goodman and later worked together at Rubenstein; Lloyd was chief of staff at City Hall during the financial crisis in the early 70s). Lisa was also a consultant to the Clinton/Gore ’96 campaign. These days, the firm counts top tier real estate companies like Brookfield and The Plaza as clients, as well as an impressive list of “major” law firms, fashion brands (Sigrid Olsen) and nonprofits including City Meals on Wheels and The Broadway League.

During these perilous economic times, one of the things that keeps Lisa and her staff so busy is crisis management: “We’re living in unprecedented times,” Lisa told me. “There is no industry that has not been hit with a crisis.” And, counsels this public relations powerhouse, even those companies that are not dealing with disaster per se should think twice about scaling back their public relations efforts. “This is not the time to pull back,” she says. “While it is a time of crisis, it is also a time of tremendous opportunity to move messages. The media is happy to report positive stories and people are happy to read them. There is so much negativity. Companies should look for what is good and get the word out because that resonates now more than ever.” Amen to that!

And, one more thing, Lisa was thrilled to break the news to me exclusively that Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former governor George Pataki and New York State’s new Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will be the speakers at this year’s fundraising gala for The New York League of Conservation Voters (she’s co-chair of the board) scheduled for May 28 at Chelsea Piers.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Somers Farkas, Francine LeFrak and two other well-heeled gals

2. Mike Medavoy and a dark-haired gent we didn’t recognize

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Jon Burnham. Joe told me he’s off to Texas to visit mom. Thanks, Joe, for telling me about the terrific mention in Liz Smith‘s column last week on wowOwow.com about our weekly ‘Lunch’ assignations. Have a safe trip to Texas and see you in two weeks.

4. Martin Dunn and Steven Rubenstein.

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Lunch at Michael’s: ‘We’re Off To Prison’

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgFor the boldface names and media mavens who flock to 55th & Fifth on a regular basis, the dining room is like a high school cafeteria without the adolescent angst. The richest and coolest kids in the class spend lots of time table hopping and there’s plenty of gossip on the menu. Today we got a heaping helping. Thanks to Mayor Joe Armstrong, we made the acquaintance of Worth magazine founder W. Randall Jones, who told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane and her pal, Hallmark’s corporate communications VP Jennifer Geisser, that he and Bob Friedman were enjoying today’s meal because “we’re off to prison on Friday.”

Randy, who is credited with turning Esquire around in the 80s (no wonder he was the best dressed man in the room), then explained he and Bob weren’t pulling a Martha. They’re headed for the boonies of Pennsylvania at week’s end to visit an unnamed pal “who got a little creative with accounting and a little something about corporate jets” and wound up in the slammer. A timely and cautionary tax season tale for all of you moguls out there …

Here’s a rundown on the rest of the ‘in’ crowd:

1. Hallmark Channel honcho Henry Schleiff (Happy Birthday!)and Kerry Kennedy.

2. Peter Brown.

3. Joe Armstrong and W. Randall Jones.

4. Quest’s Chris Meigher with Dominick Dunne who told us he’s headed out to Los Angeles to cover the Phil Spector trial for Vanity Fair. We’ve missed his reporting of late and eagerly await his dispatches from the left coast …

5. CBS’ Gil Schwartz with his agent Kris Dahl. The master spinmeister tells us his new book Crazy Bosses (Harper Collins) is due out May 8. One Hundred Bullshit Jobs, his last effort, is soon to be released on paperback. Next time you’re looking for material on these subjects, Gil, be sure to give us a call.

6. Paul Wilmot, Time Inc.’s Kate Betts and a few unidentified fashionistas.

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