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Posts Tagged ‘Lois Chiles’

Ralph Lauren, Jenna Bush, and the Media Mob

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was good to be back at my regular perch at Michael’s today after a nasty bug kept me home last week. I returned to a scene buzzing with a head-spinning mix of fashion designers, famous faces, and the requisite media moguls. Don’t these people ever take a day off? I’m guessing not.

Today I was joined by W. Randall Jones (‘Randy’ to his friends), who I got to know right here in the dining room. Randy is, without fail, always the best dressed man in the room. (He credits Martin Greenfield, the Brooklyn-based tailor to Bill Clinton and Colin Powell, for his sartorial success.) When Randy arrived looking as dashing as ever in his three-piece navy pinstriped suit, we got right down to dishing.

This is a man who knows just about everyone, which is no surprise considering he’s had a stellar 30-year career in media. He launched Worth magazine in 1992 and was the youngest publisher in magazine history when he nabbed the top spot at Esquire at the ripe old age of 29. The self-described “serial entrepreneur” also launched The American Benefactor, the first magazine about philanthropy from the donor’s perspective and released his first book, The Greatest Stock Picks of All Time, to plenty of attention in 2004.

The tastiest dish is off the record, but I can tell you his latest tome, The Richest Man in Town, has been a big success. It vaulted to the number one spot on Amazon right after Randy appeared on Wall Street Week with Maria Bartiromo. These days, he’s working on a top secret television project. We can’t wait to hear more.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman, and Michael Kramer. A photographer from The New York Times was on hand to capture everything for an upcoming piece on the good doctor for the Style section. We’ll be looking for it.

2. Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and The Daily Beast’s Bryan Curtis who, when I asked what he did for the website replied, “Whatever Tina tells me to do.” Nice to meet you!

4. Ralph Lauren (who kept his sunglasses on throughout lunch) and Buffy Birrittella, the designer’s longtime executive vice president of women’s design and advertising. We spotted them celebrating Buffy’s birthday with champagne and nibbling on some chocolate confection while chatting with the steady stream of well wishers, like Harper’s Bazaar editor Glenda Bailey.

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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: 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: Dishing on the Oscars & Obama

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— DIANE CLEHANE

As I’ve been reporting for weeks, it was SRO at Michael’s today as the movers and shakers, undeterred by the unsettling economic news, were out in full force plotting their next big move — or looking for a safe place to land. On the menu today: plenty of talk about President Barack Obama‘s speech last night and the Oscars. There was a strong consensus that one was a big winner, while the other got surprisingly mixed reviews. While everyone in the audience on Oscar night thought Hugh Jackman killed, plenty of folks here were less than impressed. “Movie people don’t like Broadway,” sniped one Hollywood insider. “And it was too Broadway.” Okay then…

Everyone I talked to about President Obama’s speech felt his oratory skills are nothing short of amazing and that he struck just the right tone where he basically told us its time to pay the piper and think of our children’s future. Personally, I was impressed at his unflappable ability to mix his formal and seemingly off-the-cuff remarks with ease — and he didn’t even blink when he forgot to follow protocol and let House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduce him. She had to stop him mid-sentence, but he never faltered. Talk about cool under pressure. But here’s what wowed the women in the dining room — his affectionate introduction of the First Lady Michelle Obama and her mouthing, ‘I love you’ back to her smitten husband. “They’re marriage is obviously hot,” one divorcee told me. I’m telling you, no one wants to admit it, but that’s what people are really talking about.

As for the president’s remarks, “Inspirational but realistic,” is how one media summed things up. Others were scratching their heads asking why Wall Street wasn’t feeling the same way. More than one person said, “With everyone feeling a little bit hopeful, I don’t get why the market is down.” (It had dropped by more than 100 points by lunch). A question for the ages, no doubt.

On a much lighter note, I asked the always dapper Dr. Gerald Imber what he thought of the Botox-ed beauties on Oscar’s red carpet. But this plastic surgeon to the stars never cuts and tells — “I didn’t watch,” he confessed. He laughed when I asked him why he’d pass up the chance to admire his handiwork and did offer his assessment on why movie stars make better plastic surgery patients than mere mortals: “They come in with headshots saying, ‘I’ve changed a little here, I want to fix this here.’ They know what they want. There’s no whining.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Andy Bergman. Here’s a fun fact: A little birdie told me that Andy wrote the screenplay for Blazing Saddles. Now you know…

2. Hallmark honcho Henry Schleiff with two other well-dressed fellows

3. No one puts a lunch together like ‘The Mayor’: Joe Armstrong, Glamour editrix Cindi Leive, George Stevens and Kerry Kennedy. I was thrilled to meet George (who was sporting a very patriotic red, white and blue shirt and tie ensemble). He’s the man behind the television broadcast of the Kennedy Center Honors and the amazing broadcast of the concert on the Mall in celebration of President Obama’s inauguration. Kerry and I met once before at a lunch given by Henry Schleiff in this very dining room, where we talked about her then yet-to-published book, Being Catholic Now. I was so fascinated by her interviews with the likes of Bill Maher and Gabriel Byrne (who spoke about being abused by a priest) that I got through the terrific tome twice. Today the conversation was all about how stirring and inspirational the group found the president’s speech last night. “It made me proud to be an American,” Kerry told me. And we both totally melted over the young school girl who was seated next to the First Lady having written to the White House looking for aid for her school, which is in a serious state of disrepair. “I had tears in my eyes,” said Kerry. She wasn’t the only one…

4. An early-arriving Matt Blank who chatted with Joe and I before The New Yorker‘s David Remnick and Lisa Hughes joined Showtime’s head honcho for lunch. I was happy to reconnect with Lisa. Way back when, she was my sales rep at Self when I was the marketing honcho for a fashion company. I knew then that Lisa was destined for big things at Conde Nast, and she’s risen through the ranks like the pro she is. Well done and congrats!

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