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Posts Tagged ‘Liz Smith’

Lunch: Liz Smith, Frank Langella & A Bevy of Social Swans

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The streets may be eerily empty these days (at least you can always get a cab), but you can pretty much count on a full house on Wednesdays at Michael’s. Today the dining room was buzzing as media mavens and a fair share of fashionistas made the scene. Before things really got going, I checked in with ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, who is keeping good thoughts for his pal Robin Williams as he undergoes heart surgery. It was Joe, you may recall, who first brought Robin to Michael’s all those years ago for a lunch with Bill Clinton, which made headlines far and wide and even wound up being discussed on David Letterman. Here’s hoping one of our favorite funnymen makes a full and quick recovery.

Today I was lunching with Dorian Benkoil, mediabistro.com’s former editorial director and the man who first asked me to do this column. Dorian has a very full plate these days helming his own company, Teeming Media. He’s hosting an online show, Naked Media, broadcast monthly on NakedMedia.org, and recently had Businessweek.com’s Jon Byrne and Howard Lindzon, co-founder of Stockwits and Wallstrip, as guests. At the moment, Dorian is hard at work producing a seminar entitled “Finance for Media Professionals” to be held on March 23. If you want to check out the details for this timely talk, go to TeemingMedia.com.

I was happy to see regulars Kira Semler and Vi Huse (‘the bar-ettes’) having their monthly champagne lunch at the bar. I only wish that Kira had told me about her letter to the New York Post (which they printed) bemoaning the paper’s decision to stop publishing Liz Smith‘s column. (She showed it to me when we were all on our way out the door.) I would have loved to have introduced Liz to such an ardent fan. Oh well, next time…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The New Yorker‘s David Remnick, publisher Lisa Hughes and Cartier’s Frederic de Narp with a few members of his incredibly chic staff.

2. My new Facebook friend Terry Allen Kramer with Broadway producers James Neiderlander and Rob Greenblatt

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and The Hallmark Channel’s honcho Henry Schleiff. I had to go over and tell Henry that I’m loving those Saturday night made-for-TV movies on his network (What can I say? I have a four-year-old and don’t get out much). Henry told me he’s particularly excited about this week’s offering, Relative Stranger, starring Eriq La Salle, Cicely Tyson and Michael Michele, about a football player who leaves his family and years later returns to make amends. It premieres Saturday night at 8 p.m. I’m in! And, for all you fans of I Love Lucy and The Golden Girls reruns (Come on, confess, I know you’re out there) Hallmark is now home to these television gems. You’re welcome…

4. Liz Smith and Frank Langella (who gallantly got up and offered to pull out Liz’s chair — chivalry is not dead! Liz and I chatted before Mr. Langella’s arrival (he’s just too imposing to call Frank) and she told me now that she’s made the move to the Internet writing for her Website wowOwow.com (check it out, it’s addictive), she’s “trying to pump up her sources.” Aren’t we all?

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Liz Smith’s Long Goodbye: ‘I Will Go Bravely On!’

img-bs-top---grove-liz-smith_175110661627.jpgToday is Liz Smith‘s last column at the New York Post. Even if you are not the most regular reader is does seem like just one more sign that newspapers as we know them are not long for this world. Also, somewhat amazing is the fact that she received the news from editor Col Allan (in a letter!) more than two weeks ago, and it was only made public this week. Apparently, the woman knows how to keep a secret when need be! Anyway, Smith is over at The Daily Beast talking with fellow former gossiper extraordinaire Lloyd Grove about her abrupt departure — oh to have been a fly on the wall for this conversation! Here’s a taste:

Lloyd: Now Col sent you a letter. Did he ever tell you anything in person about this?

Liz: No, no one has spoken to me. At the end of January I wrote a letter to Rupert because Col Allan hasn’t spoken to me in a year, so I said I was anxious to re-sign and wanted to go on working and hoped to die with my boots on at my desk and all that stuff. And Rupert didn’t answer. And then Col sent me a very nice letter saying he was sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, and they had economic difficulties, et cetera, and they were not renewing my contract. So I’ve never talked to anybody there.

But I will go bravely on, move on more fully to the wowowow.com and keep up writing the column every day to the Tribune Syndicate, and keep writing for Variety twice a week.

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‘Economic Gales’ Sweep Liz Smith Out of the NYPost

World - G-LizSmithV.jpgYou know times are extremely, badly, very tough when even Liz Smith is falling victim to the Recession! The Times City Room blog reports that Thursday will be the gossip doyenne’s last! Apparently currently nefarious editor Col Allan informed her in a letter earlier this month that her contract would not be renewed due to “unprecedented economic gales.”

Smith says that when her column was dropped down to three times a week last year she protested: “I had meetings with everybody. I carried on. Didn’t do any good. Mr. Allan is firmly at the helm of The New York Post, and I was never under the impression that I was his cup of tea….Oh, yeah, I had a meeting with Rupert. He said he wouldn’t interfere with Col Allan. Well, isn’t he right? Shouldn’t publishers believe in their editors?”

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American Lion: Jon Meacham’s Book Party and a Whole Lot of Presidential Trivia

meachbk.jpgLast night’s book party celebrating the publication of Newsweek head Jon Meacham‘s new book about Andrew Jackson, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, certainly attracted some big names (and presidential trivia buffs it turns out). Spotted by FBNY in the crowd of revelers at Newsweek‘s offices overlooking Columbus Circle (which was more or less shut down last night by Prop 8 protesters) were Brian Williams, Tom Wolfe, Liz Smith, Maria Bartiromo, Tammy Haddad, Jon Meacham (obviously), Jonathan Alter, Rachel Sklar, Richard Cohen, and a whole slew of other important looking people we couldn’t quite place. Not surprisingly much of the talk revolved around the recent election, which led us to wonder a) why a book about Jackson now? And b) who was everyone else’s favorite president. First of all, it turns out that Jackson is not Meacham’s favorite president, FDR is. Meacham told us he chose to focus on Jackson because of the early 19th century presidents Jackson is most similar to our modern day ones in both his strengths and his flaws. One of Meacham’s researchers, Louisa Thomas (also a Vogue and Newsweek contributor), told us she thought the interest stemmed from the fact that both Meacham and Jackson hailed from Tennessee. (Truth be told when we were kids Jackson was our favorite president because he was the best-looking one on the money, which Tammy Haddad thought was hysterical. This affinity lasted right up until we read about the Indian removal).

tammymaria.jpgBrian Williams told us his favorite president was also FDR but that Lyndon Johnson held a special place in his heart (apparently BriWi has listened to more than 600 hours of Johnson phone conversations). Other tidbits you may not be aware of: according to BriWi Johnson was actually the one who had the phone wires installed in the White House (thereby contributing in his own way to Nixon’s demise), apparently there is a photo somewhere of Nixon and Johnson crawling around the residence as Johnson explains how it all works. Also? Woodrow Wilson is the most overrated and Americans love to forgive their presidents (i.e. Truman) so perhaps Bush still has a shot at the history books. There’s more! Tom Wolfe responded to our question by apologizing for having such an obvious pick.

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Liz Smith, David Carr, and Others Discuss Journalism and Privacy

carrsmith.pngIt’s all Monica Lewinsky‘s fault! At least that’s one of the conclusions drawn at the recent panel NYU Media Talk series about media, ethics, the right to privacy. Says Jim Kelly: It struck me as though the world [in terms of journalism and right to privacy] was different before Monica Lewinsky and it’s never been the same since then.” Says David Carr: “Knowing the characteristics of the first member, that’s probably TMI.”

Also, the panel discusses what qualifies someone as a journalist (hint: it has something to do with sourcing). The event was hosted by the Center for Publishing at NYU featuring David Carr, Liz Smith, Judge Napolitano of Fox News, Jim Kelly of Time, and Sherrese Smith of the Washington Post and moderated by Arthur R. Miller. Part four is after the jump and you can watch the entire thing here. And it’s definitely worth a watch, and not only because it puts David Carr and Liz Smith in the same room.

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Liz Smith Lunches With FishbowlNY!

lizsmith-205x260.jpgWell, sort of, anyway (we can dream!). In this week’s New York profile of the gossip doyenne Liz Smith is lunching at (where else) Michael’s with magazine scribe Jonathan Van Meter when she spots our very own Diane Clehane:

Smith points out a woman sitting at the bar right now who in about an hour will post a blog about who was at Michael’s today, just as she does every week. For Smith, reporting on lunch at Michael’s in her column would be pointless. But the old broad still has clout, especially with this crowd. “My column has become more historical, more philosophical,” she says. “I feel like I am a recording angel.” People like Barry Diller, Les Moonves, and even Smith herself are starting to think about their legacies. “The thing about people who last long enough to make a real impact, like I have,” she says, “is that you finally have to learn to live with the image you’ve created. It’s your legend. You don’t have to agree with everything said about you, but you can’t really quarrel with the cumulative thing.”

Lunch: Les Moonves, Barry Diller & Kathleen Turner

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Forget the lazy days of summer. Class is back in session as the cool kids returned to the cafeteria today in force. The scene at Michael’s was a tasty stew of moguls and media mavens with a side order of the random celebrity sighting — Kathleen Turner cooled her heels at the bar with her face buried in a newspaper until her pals arrived. And in true Michael’s media-centric style, a photographer from The New York Times was on hand to capture it all for Frank Bruni‘s review due out soon. We can’t wait, can you?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Kathleen Turner, Felicia Taylor, Margo McNabb, Sommers Farkas, Terry Allen Kramer and a very late arriving Peggy Siegal who joined the festivities just in time to be included in the pics for the Times. David Patrick Columbia dashed in just before coffee to grab a few quick shots of the gals for New York Social Diary. You’re no one if you’re not getting your picture taken, darling …

2. Showtime’s head honcho Matt Blank with Holly B. Newman. Loved the leopard skirt!

3. Liz Smith with Jonathan Van Meter. The grand dame of gossip, looking sunny in yellow, told me she was being interviewed for New Yorkfor another anniversary issue.

4. Les Moonves sipping chardonnay with Leon Black

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Tina Brown, Revisited

02_dillerbrown_lg.jpgWe now have more details on the Tina Brown/Barry Diller online partnership that Radar reported on in April. During a chat with Hillary Clinton and Liz Smith Brown revealed that the upcoming news aggregator website will be called The Daily Beast, in homage to Evelyn Waugh’s novel Scoop. Back in April Brown said that the site will not be in direct competition with HuffPo, nor have any ideological stance. Says Smith: “Barry, I suppose, will play the role of the Beast’s Lord Copper.” Should anyone be interested in going head to head with the beast, TheDailyBeast.com is apparently still available.

Lunch: Charlie Rose, Joe Scarborough, and the Summer Die-Hards

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— DIANE CLEHANE

With the dog days of summer upon us, the usual suspects at Michael’s are soldiering on over their Cobb salads until it’s time to take off those last few weeks of the month to the Hamptons, Nantucket or some other sun-filled spot far from the madding crowd. In the meantime, the random celebrity sighting is keeping things interesting. Word of illusionist JB Benn‘s sleight of hand tricks that kept the crowd bedazzled last week must have gotten around the magician’s union because my spies told me that David Blaine walked in without a reservation yesterday and was bending quarters for everybody’s amusement. Just thought you’d like to know.

I was lunching today with publishing powerhouse turned Internet entrepreneur Joni Evans, whose five-month old site Wowowow.com is going great guns. Joni, who is wow’s CEO, launched the site with pals Liz Smith, Peggy Noonan, Mary Wells and Lesley Stahl for “self-assured women who are a bit too old to care what everybody thinks.” This month, Joni kicked off “The Book Party” with Judith Martin (Miss Manners) reading a collection of the classics. “It’s been incredibly well-received,” she says, and plans are in the works to expand the vertical in all sorts of interesting ways. And that’s not all — Joni tells me in the not-so-distant future the site will introduce a new fashion maven into the mix to cover style and a health vertical ‘Medicine Ball.’ The site’s content is popping up on MSN.com, Fox.com and Yahoo’s Shine. For more dish about Joni and her newfound career, check out her interview with me for our “So What Do You Do?” series coming next month …

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Charlie Rose and an unidentifed young blonde gal

2. Peter Brown

3. Jonathan Tisch and John Sykes

4. Michael Fuchs and Peggy Siegal

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Lunch: Football, Fashionistas & Laila Ali

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was a tasty tossed summer salad of movers, shakers — and football players at Michael’s today. Now that the power set has to cram in five days of plotting into a truncated work week — Why miss out on a Friday afternoon in the Hamptons if you don’t have to? — the dining room was buzzing. We noticed diners were opting for deep conversation over table-hopping today so there must be plenty of big doings afoot.

I was lunching today with my new friend, Denise Cobb, who just arrived from Naples, Florida for a few days of fun. This weekend she celebrated with her good pal Desiree Gruber at her baby shower at the rooftop garden at the Gramercy Park Hotel and is planning to go to Judge Judy‘s housewarming for the mega-mansion she had built — in just four months! — in Greenwich. “She’s really proud that she could get the builder to work so fast,” reports Denise. Fear is a great motivator, I suppose. Who would dare incur the wrath of Judge Judy? I love to watch her cut delinquent dads off at the knees on her television show, don’t you? After our lunch, Denise was off to visit with our mutual pal Carol Brodie, who is newly installed at Faberge and has big things in store for the iconic house. Denise and I are collaborating on a top secret project for Gulf Shore Life with editor-in-chief David Sendler. You’ll be the first to know all the details, I promise.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. New York Jets D’Brickshaw Ferguson, Leon Washington and Nick Mangold with some handlers and managers we didn’t recognize.

2. Peggy Siegal channeling Jackie O in a stunning white sheath, great earrings and her new ‘do with a dark-haired young power gal “in training” so we’re told…

3. Susan Zirinksy, whose show 48 Hours Mystery on Saturday nights on CBS is one of my favorite guilty pleasures with Mattea Gold.

4. John Huey and a bespectacled gent whose face we recognized but whose name escapes us…

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