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Posts Tagged ‘Marc Victor’

Lisa Vanderpump Dishes on the Beverly Hills Housewives, Wendy Williams Holds Court

1003_mockup.gifHappy New Year — now let’s get  back to business. The power lunch season is back in full swing at Michael’s, so we’re serving up a double helping of ‘Lunch’ this week.

On Tuesday, Lisa Vanderpump and her husband Ken Todd joined me along with Bravo’s Jennifer Geisser and Jodi Davis at Table One to talk about her new Bravo series, Vanderpump Rules and, of course, dish about the current season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Lisa was wrapping up a whirlwind 48-hour stop in New York to promote her new show and in the last 24 hours appeared on Good Morning America, The Wendy Williams Show, Joy Behar, Anderson Live and Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen where, so I heard, things got a little bawdy. It took a few minutes for Lisa and Ken to make their way to our table, because several RHOBH fans stopped them to ask to take a photo with Giggy, their Pomeranian who accompanies them everywhere. It turns out Giggy also has a famous fan in Alec Baldwin, who Lisa told me, jumped out of his town car at 30 Rock that very morning and asked, “Can I hold him?” He then snapped his own photo with the four-legged reality star who has his own Twitter handle. See, Andrea Peyser, the 30 Rock star does have a heart.

When Lisa and Ken settled in for our chat and Giggy, who was wearing a jewel encrusted sweater that I’m pretty sure cost more than my dress, was safely seated and drinking water out of a champagne glass (you can’t make this stuff up) — I just had to ask why this very successful, smart and even-keeled couple jumped into the reality show pool of insanity in the first place. It turns out Ken was “extremely apprehensive” about letting in the cameras in, and Lisa turned down requests many times before deciding to give it a try. None other than Jennifer Flavin (Mrs. Sylvester Stallone), who was obsessed with the New York housewives, encouraged Lisa to try out. “We were sitting on Jennifer and Sly’s bed and she said, ‘You have to watch this.’ I did and thought, ‘I’d never do anything like that.’” Well, never say never. After finally auditioning for the show and then waiting months to hear from the producers, Lisa decided she did want in. “Once I thought it might not happen then I wanted it,” said Lisa with a laugh. While awaiting word from Bravo, Lisa had attached herself to another reality show with friend Kathy Hilton, but when Andy Cohen came calling she was in. And that, as they say, was that.

Ken Todd, Diane Clehane, Giggy the dog, Lisa Vanderpump

Ken Todd, Diane Clehane, Giggy the dog, Lisa Vanderpump

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Ringing in the Holidays With Harold Ford Jr., Star Jones & Donny Deutsch

1003_mockup.gifThe holiday revelry was in high gear today at Michael’s. Those miracle workers at reception — the amazing Loreal Sherman and Joana Andrade were working overtime to keep the high maintenance crowd happy. (Trust me, doing the seating chart here is an art form!) A little lunch for 13 hosted by Michael McCarty’s wife Kim McCarty was keeping things hopping at table one while a heaping helping of talking heads (Harold Ford Jr., Star Jones, Donny Deutsch), socialites (Becca Thrash, Muffy Potter Aston) and media mavens (Cindi Leive) were toasting the season with plenty of wine and good cheer. Don’t you just love those one percenters?

Diane Clehane & Joan Gelman

I was lunching today with producer Joan Gelman who I met in this very dining room when I first began doing the column. Joan and I have had plenty of great conversations over the years about television (Joan’s amazing resume includes producing stints at CBS and ABC in news and as David Letterman’s producer who remains “a god” to her — “He’s so talented” ) and politics. These days Joan is busier than ever working on a television show she’s got in development in Canada. (The details are top secret at the moment) Shuttling back and forth between here and there is nothing new for her since she produced the hit Triple Sensation there a while back.  Joan is also a passionate Democrat who cares deeply about the issues consuming the country right now — especially the financial inequities that have ignited protests around the country. “We have to do more to even things out,” she told me. Just this morning Joan attended a gathering where U.S. Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren spoke. “She is such an amazing woman,” marvels Joan. “She’s smart, she cares and she wants to restore the spirit of the country.” Joan told me Ms. Warren’s message was a “positive” one and that she believes fervently in healing “the great divide” that has consumed the country and seeped into national politics. We both agreed that she’s facing a tough battle against incumbent Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown because female candidates are held to a different standard than their male counterparts. “She’s a brave woman.” Indeed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

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Al Roker, Barbara Bush and Peggy Siegal Fetes Elizabeth Olsen

1003_mockup.gifWe were disappointed to hear that we’d missed seeing Wendy Williams who’d come by on Monday for lunch with her parents. A little birdie told me that the talk show diva issued this rallying cry to mom and dad before departing to face the lone paparazzo waiting outside: “Get ready! Here we go! Here we go!”  Today the few shooters milling around outside had a little more to work with since starlet of the moment, Elizabeth Olsen, was being feted in the Garden Room. Meanwhile, the main event in the dining room featured its usual mix of moguls (Barry Diller, Ron Perelman),  talking heads (Al Roker) and high-profile editors (Jon Meacham). Just business as usual for Wednesday at Michael’s.

I was joined today by Good Housekeeping editor-in-chief Rosemary Ellis, the magazine’s new money columnist Carmen Wong Ulrich and Hearst’s executive director of public relations, Alexandra Carlin. With 24 million (yes, you read that right) readers, this is not your mother’s Good Housekeeping. With Ellis at the helm, GH is a must read for the multi-tasking, multifaceted woman (Is there any other kind?) and filled with smart, savvy content that covers everything from food and fashion to family and finances.  And, while many books have retooled their marketing message for a niche reader, Good Housekeeping is a media behemoth with some really impressive reach. “We’re not age specific. We have kazillions of 28-year-old readers and kazillions of 34-year-old readers,” says Ellis. “More than the magazines that target them.”  Rosemary, whose editor letters are often inspired by her own family life and her adorable daughter, Lucy (“I figure I have a few more years before she says no more”) says Good Housekeeping offers “one stop shopping  — Who has time to read seven different magazines?”

We all agreed that the one topic on every woman’s mind these days is money. It makes sense, says Rosemary, because 80 percent of all  spending decisions are made by the woman of the house. So, Rosemary tapped Carmen to dispense her unique brand of uncommon financial common sense culled from years of experience deciphering today’s often confusing and confounding financial landscape. “I live for this,” says Carmen, who first became interested in money through her father. “I’ve been watching stocks since I was eight.”

Carmen Wong Ulrich, Diane Clehane and Rosemary Ellis
Carmen Wong Ulrich, yours truly and Rosemary Ellis

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David Hockney, Lawrence O’Donnell And The Scandal-Scarred Manhattanite

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— DIANE CLEHANE

When I arrived at Michael’s today and found myself engulfed in a sea of suits, I chalked up the relatively quiet dining room to the usual January doldrums. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the reason things seemed a bit quieter than usual was that there were more than a few folks present who preferred to fly a bit under the radar considering what they might be talking about.  (Just a thought: This isn’t the place if you’re looking to have a low-profile lunch). An acquisitive media mogul dining with one of the city’s most respected media columnists?  A scandal plagued Manhattanite dishing with the Times’ financial columnist? The last thing on the minds of these guys was table hopping. I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned to see what they cooked up over lunch.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Artist David Hockney holding court with a table full of ‘suits’

2. Allyn Magrino and pals

3. Abernathy & MacGregor’s Jim Abernathy and some pretty preppy looking folks.

4. Uber literary agent Esther Newberg and a bookish bloke we didn’t recognize

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Eliot Spitzer Dishes It Out, Jeff Zucker Takes It In

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— DIANE CLEHANE

They were lined up into the street to get into Michael’s today for that last gasp of revelry before heading out of town for the holidays. (We were impressed by how patient Eliot Spitzer seemed on the coat check line.) The red wine was flowing as VIPs cooled their heels in the lounge waiting for their dates to arrive. “Can’t anyone get anywhere on time in this city?” groused one well-heeled gent as he sipped his pinot noir while compulsively checking his iPhone. Apparently not. By the time Jonathan Wald, Becca Thrash and Harold Ford, Jr. strolled in, the place was going at full tilt — just the way the regulars like it.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Dan Rather, Eliot Spitzer, Tom Tuggle and another ‘suit’ we didn’t recognize. For the record, it looked like ‘The Steamroller’ did most of the talking …

2. Today show’s Marc Victor, frequent morning show guest security expert Bill Stanton and Men’s Health honcho David Zinczenko. Did you happen to catch the cover story in the Style section of this Sunday’s New York Times chronicling Dave’s relationship with BFF Mediaite founder Dan Abrams? All we can say is: Gentlemen, give your publicists a raise.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and money man George Farias.

4.  Departing NBC Uni honcho Jeff Zucker, who we spied listening intently to the whisperings of  CNBC Squawk Box anchor Joe Kernen. Stock tips, perhaps?

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Lunch: Johnny Weir Is “Not From Mars,” Nate Berkus Readies Transformations

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— DIANE CLEHANE

You just never know who’s going to turn up at Michael’s, and I’ve learned to expect the unexpected during my weekly lunches. That’s just what I got when U.S Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir and his agent Tara Modlin showed up to join Rob Weisbach, uber agent and former president and CEO of Miramax Books, at Table One. I loved every minute of the drama on and off the ice at this year’s games, so I just had to go over and introduce myself to Johnny.

The usually flamboyant and outspoken star, who was wearing a red ruffled sweater, black pants and flat boots, was downright subdued as I offered my congratulations on his Olympic performance but perked up when I asked if the trio might be discussing a possible book. “Yes, I want to do a book. I write a blog for my Web site and I’d like to write about a lot of the things that happen behind the scenes in figure skating,” Johnny told me. “I’ve got a cool background. I’d like people to know I’m not from Mars.” I also asked the sixth place finisher to weigh in on silver medalist Yevgeny Plushenko‘s controversial remarks about Evan Lysacek winning the gold medal without doing a quadruple jump. “I’m good friends with Yevgeny and his comments were taken out of context,” says Johnny. “He’s Russian. English is his second language.” So there you have it; it was all just a simple misunderstanding.

Speaking of books, I was joined today by literary agent Fredi Friedman who helms her own agency and has an impressively diverse list of clients including hedge fund king (and former Morgan Stanley honcho) Barton Biggs, Pat Buchanan, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, and her Republican counterpart Kellyanne Conway. “I go from one side of the aisle to the other!” says Fredi.

We were deep in conversation when Today show producer Marc Victor stopped by to introduce us to Oprah‘s favorite design guru, Nate Berkus. His new syndicated show, Nate Berkus (catchy title!) is set to premiere in September on NBC. Nate tells me he’s branching out from home makeovers. The show will air as a lead-in to Ellen DeGeneres‘ chatfest and will include a variety of different segments. “I’ll be doing some design, but I’ll also be doing interviews and focusing on the idea of transformations.” You might recall Oprah has sent Nate to several viewers’ homes for missions that go beyond a bathroom gone bad. One of my favorite recent episodes had Nate making over a woman who wanted him to glam her up and take her to her 25th high school reunion. “It’s tricky terrain when you’re picking out clothes for someone,” says Nate, who will also “have a presence” on Oprah’s OWN network when it launches. But he came through with flying colors and is now confident enough to give it a go on his own show. “We’re going to be focusing on transformations.”

Fredi, who is always thinking about new book ideas, told Nate he really had something there. “You should do a book!” she said. “Maybe I will,” Nate replied with a smile as he said his good-byes. “Thanks for the feedback!” At Michael’s, lunch is never just about lunch. But you knew that, didn’t you?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Rob Weisbach, Johnny Weir, and Tara Modlin

2. Today show producer Marc Victor (long time, no See!), Nate Berkus, and Nate’s agent Kristen Giese

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, Ed Victor, and his gorgeous wife, Carol.

4. Jean Doumanian with two gents, including producer Jerry Frankel.

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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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Lunch at Michael’s: Joan Rivers, Deepak Chopra & The Today Gang

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The scene at 55th & Fifth was more subdued than usual today with most of the regulars nowhere to be seen. With an unusually high number of “civilians” milling about, it seemed unlikely we’d get our weekly boldfaced name fix this go round. Imagine our delight when Joan Rivers arrived — party hats and Payard cake in hand — and told us she was hosting a surprise party for Today show producer Amy Rosenblum (she gave the birthday girl her first job in television) and was expecting Matt, Ann and the gang at any minute. While Ms. Curry, Mr. Lauer, Marc Victor and Jonathan Tisch exchanged hellos, I chatted with Today‘s executive producer Jim Bell to get his take on why Katie Couric decided to tell all to New York Magazine for this week’s explosive cover story. “It’s fascinating,” said Jim. “I think it was an honest assessment of what’s going on — but very interesting given the sensitive nature of it all.” Jim says he and his former colleague have a lunch date on the calendar which left us wondering exactly what Katie’s next move in this intriguing saga will be. Stay tuned …

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

1. Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina and another gentleman we didn’t recognize. The newly installed CBS newsman, who left CNN earlier this year, had his first piece for the network air this weekend. “I’m glad to be busy!” he enthused. Greenfield’s take on the Couric saga: “It’s a hard road back. Everybody here is just trying to do the best newscast we can.” The always affable newsman then offered this telling bon mot before dashing back to his table: “I don’t know — it’s above my pay grade!”

2. Rubenstein & Associates’ Caroline Mirenbeger, so we’re told.

3. Joely Hunt (loved the shoes!) and a very stylish gal pal.

4. Radical Thinking’s Bob Friedman with Deepak Chopra (in red Nikes!) and, we’re told, his son.

5. Peter Price and guest.

6. The Today gang and guests (who also took over tables 12 & 16).

7. Not sure …

8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia — looking summery in seersucker — with Alice Mason.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Al & Meredith Talk Skateboarding

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpg On the menu today: a tasty stew of media moguls and television titans with a dash of talking heads to spice things up. After making the rounds and checking in with some of our favorite regulars, we were thrilled to chat with our good pals Today’s Meredith Vieira and Al Roker. The always affable Ms. Vieira (who we’ve not seen at Michael’s before) and Mr. Roker told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane that plans are in the works for the show to travel to China this summer to do some segments as a walk up to next year’s blowout Olympic coverage in Beijing. “Meredith is going to be skateboarding on the Great Wall,” joked Al. Somehow, we wouldn’t put it past Today.

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

1. The Early shift: Charlie Rose and Neal Shapiro; late shift: Cheri Kaufman of Kaufman Astoria Studios.

2. Nightline‘s Cynthia McFadden (sporting a great tan), Silda Wall Spitzer (wife of Governor Spitzer) and her director of Children for Children Margo Jones.

3. Mayor Joe Armstrong (who was happy to show us that Jimmy Buffett signed his “boot” — which doubles as a vase — on his last visit while Joe was away). Joe was dining with two lovely ladies: Dr. Sarah Simms Rosenthal and Jane Hartley. When we complimented Dr. Simms Rosenthal, an Ali McGraw lookalike, on her stunning summer ensemble, she told us she’s actually turned last year’s dress into a fabulous white embroidered skirt which she was wearing with a classic black T-shirt. Tres chic!

4. Time Inc.’s John Huey.

5. Gerald Schoenfeld, chairman of the Schubert Organization.

6. Fashion central: Cece Cord, Cameron Silver, owner of Decades, the haute Los Angeles boutique, Becca Cason Thrash and IMG’s The Daily Jim Shi. (Thanks for filling us in, Jim!)

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Lunch at Michael’s: Brokaw & Burns Break Bread

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgThe scene at 55th & Fifth was bustling as always thanks to one iconic newsman (we always sit up a little straighter when Tom Brokaw is in the room), a mix of movie moguls and the usual roundup of public relations pitchmen and women. Peggy Siegal did her usual flitting from table to table (We have to ask: what was up with that rugby striped mini dress, muffler and corduroy jacket? Homage to the Love Story era Ali McGraw, perhaps?). Paramount CEO Brad Grey did his share of glad-handing. It was introductions all around at the SRO bar, too. Michael‘s wife Kim McCarty made the acquaintance of lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane and chatted about the couple’s upcoming trip to Paris to visit their daughter, Clancy. Bon Voyage!

Here’s a rundown of today’s menu:

1. A table of distinguished looking gentlemen including ad man Jerry Della Femina and Good Morning America‘s Joel Siegel.

2. Peter Brown and guest.

3. Ben Silverman and Matt Blank.

4. Steve Rubenstein and guests.

5. Herb Siegal

6. Leslie Stevens of LaForce & Stevens and two unidentified fashionistas.

7. Marc Victor (Happy Birthday!), producer Amy Rosenblum and Giada De Laurentiis. The Food Network hottie has been sitting on Today‘s couch as a substitute chatter during the show’s third hour. “She’s doing great!” says the always affable Marc.

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