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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Kramer’

Alexis Glick Dishes with Michelle Paterson, NY Republican Chair Talks Turner Victory

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It was SRO at Michael’s today. The dining room was a tasty mix of media mavens with a heaping helping of politicos and a dash of flash with a very tall L.A. Laker. (We don’t follow basketball, but several guys in the room made sure we knew it was Matt Barnes who made heads turn.)

I was joined by Andrew Amill, VP of media sales at Weight Watchers, who, unlike many of his colleagues in publishing is seeing some extraordinary numbers these days. “This is a record year in the history of the brand driven by The Points Plus system and [spokesperson] Jennifer Hudson,” Andy tells me. The numbers speak for themselves: Newsstand sales are up 10 percent;  print ad revenue is up eight percent. Online, the business is exploding with an impressive 25 percent jump in ad revenue.

As a lifetime members of Weight Watchers, I told Andy I’d been a longtime fan of the brand but was really impressed by their canny selection of Hudson as a spokesperson. “She has a lot of credibility with members and readers,” says Andy, and that’s translated into plenty of new members who have joined because of the amazing results the Oscar winner got from the program. In fact, the cover of this month’s issue features an attractive array of men and women, ‘real life success stories’ that attest to the program’s sweeping success. This is definitely not your mother’s Weight Watchers.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1.  Atttorney Rob Barnett, presiding over a table of business types

2.  Wayne Kabak and Lauren Green

3. Oxygen Media founder Geraldine Laybourne

4. Producer Francine LeFrak and some colorfully dressed social swells

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Rick Fox, Arianna Huffington and a Real Housewife of New York City

1003_mockup.gif— DIANE CLEHANE

It was SRO at Michael’s today with movers and shakers jammed into every corner. I was so glad I got there early and was able to chat with Rick Fox and his girlfriend Eliza Dushku (who we loved on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) when they arrived at the stroke of noon. Having watched the former LA Laker morph into a serious ballroom dancer during his stint on Dancing With the Stars, I just had to ask him if he’d kept up with his smooth moves. “No I haven’t,” he told me with a laugh. “I guess I need to call [professional partner Cheryl Burke] if I ever need to do that again.”

Rick said he was in town for Internet Week to promote Off Season, a podcast production he is working on with Michael Eisner as producer. “It’s great and that’s where the future seems to be. I’m having a lot of fun with it.” As for Eliza, who is truly stunning in person, she’s in town to film an episode of  White Collar. When asked if she is playing a good girl or femme fatale on the USA Network series, she demurred. “A little of both, I think.” With that, the dazzling couple sailed off to take their place at their table in the center of the room.

I was lunching today with Myrna Blyth, editor-in-chief of thirdage.com, the longest-running site devoted to female baby boomers. Ever since Web entrepreneur Josh Speyer bought the site in 2010 and brought Myrna, who was once the guiding force of Ladies Home Journal and More, on board, over two million visitors have been flocking to the site for everything from boomer celebrity news to the latest health breakthroughs. While magazines seem to shun the 50-plus crowd, which Myrna thinks is a “big mistake,” thirdage is welcoming ‘women of a certain age’ who have have real buying power and who want talk  — and talk — about what matters to them online. “I think it’s wonderful to give such a powerful group the voice they deserve,” says Myrna. “Thirdage is for the woman who wasn’t born yesterday and wants to make the most of today.”

Here’s the rundown on todays’ crowd:

1.  Fidelis Global’s Gerry Byrne and Hollywoodlife.com‘s Bonnie Fuller, presiding over their second monthly “Influencers” lunch. The table was so jam packed that we could barely make out all the attendees, but we were able to spot Cosmo editrix Kate White; Neil Vogel, co-founder of the Webby Awards; Cablevision’s Tad Smith; Real Housewife LuAnn de Lesseps (that’s Countess de Lesseps to you!); Veronika Ward of MediaCom Interaction; Estee Lauder’s Marisa Thalberg; MMC’s chief revenue officer Aly Racer; and WNBC-TV’s Jane Hanson.

2. Michael Holtzman

3. Alan Grubman and NBC’s Richard Engel

4. Michael Fuchs and producer Jean Doumanian

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Kathie Lee Gifford, Marlo Thomas And The Best Seller Brigade

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The joint was jumping when I arrived for my weekly lunch at Michael’s today. Between the bestselling authors, media mavens, and the social swans of the Upper East Side, there was a real buzz in the room — or was it just all that pesky pollen from the azaleas on every table?

I was joined today by jewelry designer and all around renaissance woman Carol Brodie. I’ve known Carol since her days at Harry Winston when she managed to get every A-lister you could possibly name to show up at the Academy Awards dripping in the iconic house’s diamonds. In 2009, Carol launched her own fine jewelry collection, Rarities, on HSN and has become the shopping network’s number one resource for fine gems. With prices ranging from $59.90 up to $10,000 for one of a kind pieces, that’s a lot of bling! It’s amazing to learn just how much people pony up sitting at home watching in their pajamas. She’s also launching a collection of watches next month.

Carol has become something of an overnight success in the digital world, since her mantra is ”click and order” over “bricks and mortar.” As a completely digital brand, she has garnered plenty of attention for her social media prowess and recently spoke at the Fashion 140 conference at Lincoln Center along with fellow Twitter fanatics Robert Verdi and Elle’s Joe Zee. Besides the “priceless” exposure she gets on HSN (her next appearance is scheduled for May 20, when the network celebrates ‘Brazilian Day’), Carol stays in constant contact with her customers through Facebook and tweets up to the minute on virtually everything she is doing, wearing and selling. (She, of course, tweeted our lunch.)

“Social media is the ‘Main Street’ of my brand,” she told me. “I want to talk directly to my customers, and they want to talk directly to me.” Carol is also planning to do a lot more talking with an upcoming book and television show in development (“a cross between Antique Roadshow and Pawn Brokers“) that she’s working on with a former Oprah producer. She kind of makes you feel guilty about all those hours spent watching Bravo instead of designing your website, doesn’t she?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Sam Haskell, author (Promises I Made My Mother) and former head of William Morris’ worldwide television division, with his wife and daughter — both named Mary. The group was  joined by Kathie Lee Gifford, who I grabbed for a brief chat. When I asked how her Mother’s Day was, she said, “It will be better tonight — Cody is coming home from college!”

2. Former HarperCollins head Jane Friedman, now CEO and co-founder of Open Road with uber ad man Richard Kirshenbaum and Jeffrey Sharp, president and co-founder of Open Road.

3. Diane Sokolov

4. Charlie Schuler

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Sinbad & Family Dish on Their New Reality Show

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It would have been hard to beat the head-spinning scene that I witnessed at Michael’s last Wednesday, but this week came close. A camera crew from WNBC-TV’s LX-TV was on hand filming a segment on celebrity lunch spots as the masters of the universe (Barry Diller) and socialites (Melania Trump, swathed in mink) strolled in and air-kissed their way to their tables. When Amy Rosenblum, the show’s producer, heard I was having lunch with comedy icon Sinbad and his family to talk about their new reality show for WE tv, her ears perked up. “Perfect!” she said. “We’ll come over and borrow him for our segment. ”

Having never met the comedian, I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find that 10 minutes after the family arrived (right on time!) fresh off their morning at SiriusXM, it felt as if I’d known them all forever. They’re the anti-Osbournes! Named one of the Top 100 Stand-up Comedians of All Time by Comedy Central and a sitcom (A Different World, The Sinbad Show) vet, Sinbad told me the new show, Sinbad: It’s Just Family (premiering April 12 at 10 pm on WE tv) is a marked departure of the bumper crop of dysfunctional family fright fests that populate the reality TV landscape.

“These producers want meltdowns and dramas, but most of the dramas wouldn’t happen if people weren’t shooting their show. Most reality shows have an agenda and you have to understand that. I got about 80 percent of what I wanted. I was the voice of reason. We picked and chose what we wanted to shoot.” Any scenes in the master bedroom were off-limits, he said. “That’s just not respectful.” Instead, the show focuses on his version of family life — his re-marriage to his ex-wife Meredith Adkins and his relationship with his two “grids” (semi-grown kids) Paige and Royce. When he’s not on the road doing stand-up, he’s home keeping things together — his way. “The show is not about some comedian looking for a comeback because I never went away!” he quipped.

I had to ask him what he thought of this season’s Celebrity Apprentice since he appeared on season three of the show. “Donald Trump likes fights. He likes drama,” he told me. “That’s why Meat Loaf and Gary Busey are still around. That’s what people want to watch.” As for his take on his former cast mates: “Brett Michaels was a baby and Sharon Osbourne has the filthiest mouth of any woman I’ve ever met. She faked being sick just so she could miss being project manager for the first three weeks.” He also has choice words for Ozzy Osbourne. “That show they did made him look like a fool. Do you really want people to remember you like that? These people are stars and they don’t really think about how they want to be perceived.”

For their show, Sinbad and the family ”focused on the positive” and shot weeks of 12-14 hour days for six episodes, which was quite an adjustment. “It’s the most time we’ve spent together since the kids were babies,” says Meredith. “We were miked all the time and had to remind ourselves that they were recording everything.”

Royce is a college student studying audio sound engineering, and Paige is an R&B artist (Meredith is her manager) who co-wrote all the songs on her new album, Imperfect Me. Both had to be convinced to do the show at first, but wound up enjoying the experience. Proud Papa says of their TV debut: “He surprised me and she turned out to be quite the daredevil.”  In one episode, Paige convinced the family to try out a trapeze park, and the producers were only too happy to get it all for the show. “That’s what was so great about the show.  If we wanted to do something and the producers thought it was a great idea, they made it happen,” says Paige. “The flip side was we were having family barbecues, and there was someone standing on the driveway handing out releases for our friends to sign. That was a little strange but we got used to it.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Sinbad, his wife Meredith Adkins, daughter Paige, son Royce and yours truly.

2. Project Playlist CEO John Sykes and Brian Bedol

3. Melania Trump and designer Rachel Roy. I was nearly blinded when I happened to look over at The Donald’s better half  and spotted the sparkler on her ring finger. And, yes, she is even more gorgeous in person.

4. Barry Diller

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Ina Garten, Joanna Coles And The Fashion Flock

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The dreary winter weather (Will it ever end?!) didn’t keep the loyalists away from Michael’s today. There were plenty of fab fashionistas and social swans in the dining room who braved the elements in inappropriate footwear to exchange air kisses and gossip about who knows what.  The usual mix of media moguls and mavens were there, too. Here’s hoping the sun and the celebrity A-List returns next week.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Marie Claire editrix Joanna Coles with actor Richard E. Grant (Gosford Park, Dracula, and the upcoming The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep) and three stylish looking folks. We  were so excited to see Richard up close and personal. (He’s blond now!) We’re dating ourselves a bit here, but he was absolutely the best Bob Cratchit ever a few years back in the TNT version of A Christmas Carol opposite another one of our favorite British actors, Patrick Stewart.

2. Literary agent Esther Newberg, enjoying soup with a handsome fellow whose face we definitely recognized but whose name escapes us.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Dorothy Kalins. I stopped by the table to check in with these two longtime friends. Joe couldn’t stop talking about last night’s screening at MoMa of The Restaurateur, the documentary about Danny Meyer by Dorothy’s husband Roger Sherman. The beloved museum, incidentally, is home to one of our favorite Meyer restaurants, The Modern. The screening was followed by a Q&A with Meyer and was a foodie’s delight, we hear. Speaking of food, Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys written by David Tanis, chef at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, and edited by Dorothy was among the nominees for the 2011 James Beard Awards announced yesterday. Congrats!

4.  Mrs. Army Archerd and pals.

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Tina Brown, Al Roker and Facebook’s Flummoxed Friends

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The holidays are over (finally!), so it was back to business for the moguls and mavens that trickled into Michael’s today. The telltale sign was last month’s run on red wine has been replaced by orders of Diet Coke (No more ducking out early ‘to go Christmas shopping’ for you!), and there was plenty of talk about New Year’s resolutions and diets of every description. “I hate January,” said one fashionista who hardly looked like she had anything to worry about. “Nothing fits! And going back to the gym is such an effort.” We feel your pain.

The other hot topic everyone was talking about was Facebook — but not in the way you might expect. While the news is full of reports about the cash infusion from Goldman Sachs and the $1.5 billion fund from private investors (helped, no doubt, by all our witty posts), the movers and shakers in the dining room were debating the finer points of what to post and who to  friend on the site.

“I’m using it to build my personal brand,” one diner told me. “And I’ll do it as soon as I figure out what I want that brand to be.”  Author Pamela Keogh told me she maintains two friends lists: one for her nearest and dearest and one for fans of her books. Her lunch date, James Curtis, who is new to the whole thing, is trying to build a friends list without committing any social faux pas. “It’s funny,” he noted. “You’re friends with people on Facebook that you don’t know that well, and then there are people you do know well that you don’t want to ‘friend.’ It’s like high school all over again.”

We understand completely. That mean girl who kept us out of the popular sorority keeps sending a friend request which we just keep ignoring. Sweet revenge!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The “Imber Gang” all present and accounted for: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman

2. New York Observer publisher (and Ivanka Trump‘s adoring hubby) Jared Kushner with a well-heeled fellow we didn’t recognize.

3. The Early Show: Public relations maven Lisa Linden with New York lobbyist Kevin Fullington.  (He’s a Republican, in case you were wondering) Take two: Today show weatherman Al Roker enjoying a romantic lunch with wife Deborah Roberts.  See, sometimes lunch is just lunch.

4. Leonard Lauder with two pals. The cosmetics industry legend recently received WWD‘s first-ever Visionary Award. Congrats!

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Joel Klein, Diana Taylor and the December Diehards

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was good to be back on the Michael’s beat after a two week absence (Word to the wise: Get that flu shot!). I’m happy to report the monsoon-like rains didn’t keep those dining room diehards away, although the mood was a bit more subdued than usual. The place was festively decked out with holiday finery though, and we particularly liked the Christmas carols being piped in. God knows you don’t hear those enough around town.

I was joined today by my good friend Dr. Robi Ludwig who managed to squeeze in our lunch between her appearance this morning on Today discussing options in caring for one’s aging parents and a spot this evening on Jane Velez Mitchell’s chatfest on HLN. Between weighing in on the issues that keep us all up at night on every show you could possibly name, Robi still manages to see a full slate of patients in her own private practice as a psychologist. Funny coincidence: none other than fame addict Kate Gosselin, who, I’m sure, will be discussed in plenty of therapy sessions for the next several decades, shared Today’s green room with Robi this morning. The deluded mother hen appeared to talk about the reports that her children are having anger issues and defend her decision to keep them in front of the cameras. Nope, no issues there. Robi reports that Kate brought along hunky bodyguard Steve Neild for protection. We all know how dangerous those hallways at 30 Rock can be!

After Robi and I finished dishing about Kate, she told me all about her new line of jewelry set to debut next month on ShopNBC.  She’s calling her collection, Vice Mari (Romanian for ‘big dreams’). The pieces will be sterling silver and gold vermeil with genuine stones, and the designs will all have “symbolic meaning.” Why do a jewelry line? “I wanted to do something to make people feel good without therapy,” says Robi. Makes sense to me.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The “Imber Gang”: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman.

2. PMK/HBH managing director Cindi Berger

3. Producer Terry Allen Kramer, looking chic as ever.

4. Discovery’s main man David Zaslav

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Doris Kearns Goodwin, Bo Dietl and The Post-Election Posse

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The votes are in and this week’s big winner is Michael McCarty whose dining room has been packed every day with A-list celebs  and politicos of every stripe in town this week to dissect every nuance of election night. The star of Monday’s lunch was none other than Jessica Lange, and on Tuesday James Carville, Cokie Roberts and Tina Brown made the scene. Kirk Douglas was also spotted accepting well wishes for son Michael Douglas, who is keeping a low profile having just finished his treatment for throat cancer.

Today, politics were the topic and I overheard plenty as I made my rounds in the dining room. “Who the hell knows what this all means?” said one shell shocked Obama supporter of the midterm election results. His friend wearily replied, “It’s over. The president is in for it now.” An interested party across the room offered this assessment: “The Republican Party may think this is their time, but they’ll shoot themselves in the foot. You’ll see. ” Another friend told me, “Until we stop thinking of ourselves as a red nation or blue nation and figure out this is a red, white and blue country, we’re screwed.”

At my table, we avoided politics and stuck to dissecting the latest moves in media. My good friend Andy Amill, who this summer got a much deserved promotion and is now Vice President of Weight Watchers Media Group overseeing all print and digital media, is feeling pretty optimistic these days. And he’s got reason to be. It seems celebrity pitch woman Jennifer Hudson, who sensibly shrunk down from a size 16 to a svelte size six on the tried and true program, has been a home run for the brand. “The impact of Jennifer Hudson has been phenomenal,” Andy told me. “We’ve seen an increase in membership at meetings and on-line and an increase in magazine sales.” And, unlike the usual blink-and-you miss-’em celeb endorsement deals, Andy reports that the divine Ms. Hudson will be sticking around to spearhead some top secret programs the company will unveil in 2011.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Early Show: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer. Second seating: My pal, attorney Suzanne Bracker, and Dan Wassong.

2. Peter Brown and Michael Holtzman

3. Fortune‘s Patricia Sellers — whose cover story last month on Oprah‘s next act still has people buzzing – and, we’re told, John Needham.

4. Felicia Taylor with another chic blonde gal we didn’t recognize.

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Isaac Mizrahi, Twilight‘s Kellan Lutz & A Manhattan Madri Gras

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I attended a fabulous lunch today for Deb Shriver to celebrate the publication of her first book, Stealing Magnolias, due out any minute. It was a festive afternoon befitting the book which is equal parts love letter, scrapbook and chic guide to Deb’s adopted city of New Orleans. “I not only love New Orleans. I love the idea of it. When I’m away, it is a dream I can always return to. I would come just for the gumbo,” says Deb, an Atlanta native and twelfth-generation Southerner.

Our hostess, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, welcomed everyone to “New Orleans North” as we all sipped our Pimm’s Cups (‘I never drink at lunch but I’ll make an exception’ was pretty much the consensus) and dined on Louisiana crawfish salad made especially for the occasion. The guest list was a chatty mix of journos and Deb’s nearest and dearest. In attendance: More‘s editor Lesley Jane Seymour, authors Pamela Keogh and Susan Sully, Deb’s husband Jerry Shriver who toils as music critic for USA Today,  Jesse Kornbluth of headbutler.com,  Amy Wicks of WWD and Melissa Coan and Marcia Sherill of 1stdibs.com It’s worth noting that Deb, whose ‘real job’ as Hearst’s chief officer of communications keeps her more than busy, wrote her book ‘on weekends’ over the course of several months. “Pretty humbling for all of us here at the table who do this for a living,” said one guest. Indeed.

Before lunch, we all got a chance to flip through the pages of the sumptuous tome and I was struck by all the beautiful photography of the people, places and cuisine of New Orleans. It’s the work of 17 different photographers, Deb tells me — and she did all the food styling herself! (Some people just multitask a lot better than others, I suppose). Then, just as the main course was about to be served, everyone in the dining room was treated to a surprise solo performance of jazz man Craig Handy to make the Manhattan Mardi Gras complete. Bravo!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Deb Shriver, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Jerry Shriver, Lesley Jane Seymour, Amy Wicks, Pamela Keogh, Jesse Kornbluth, Susan Sully, Marcia Sherrill, Melissa Coan and yours truly.

2. MSNBC’s Chris Licht, Nancy Jacobson and Kevin Sheekey.

3.  The ‘Imber Gang:” Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer

4. Peter Brown

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Vernon Jordan, Paul Shaffer and Richard Belzer Grab a Bite at Michael’s

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We missed Harvey Keitel (who, we hear, is a pretty nice guy) by a day, but the usual suspects kept things hopping in the dining room at Michael’s today. By now, we’ve grown used to seeing Richard Belzer with his dog Bebe (pronounced Bay-Bay en Francais, in case you were wondering) in tow for his 1 pm lunches every now and again. But we did perk up when Vernon Jordan came in. Talk about presence!

I had a chance to catch up with one of my favorite regulars, ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstong who, when I first started writing this column, made it his personal mission to introduce me to as many movers and shakers as possible. The native Texan with the heart of gold just can’t help himself when it comes to do-good deeds. This afternoon he was full of fire telling me about the upcoming benefit for The Hole in The Wall Gang Camp on October 21 at Lincoln Center. Joe spent seven years as a camp counselor during the summer at the original Connecticut camp — He now proudly bears the title of ‘Mr. Ambassador’ for the organization — and can’t say enough about the kids whose lives are forever changed thanks to Paul Newman. “They make you realize what is really important, ” says Joe.

So, if you want to help continue Newman’s good works and spend an evening rubbing shoulders with Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep, Joanne Woodward and Renee Zellweger, get out those checkbooks and buy a ticket to the gala. Tell them Joe sent you …

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Self‘s Lucy Danziger and some leggy leather clad gals from L’Oreal talking ‘stress management’

2. Law & Order SVU’s Richard Belzer and David Letterman‘s band leader Paul Shaffer

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and O’s book editor Sara Nelson.

4. Leonard Lauder and a casually elegant gal who, upon greeting the cosmetic king exclaimed, “This is the high point of my week!”

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