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Posts Tagged ‘Paula Wagner’

Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes Send-Up Rolls into New York

It was a smash in Chicago. Now, August 20-24 at the Players Theatre as part of the New York International Fringe Festival, TheTomKat Project is set to wow fans in the very city where Katie Holmes pulled the plug on her marriage to Tom Cruise one year ago.

The play, featuring just a few odd props and the narration of writer Brandon Ogborn, skewers celebrity, the media and the Church of Scientology. There is no pretense at conventional celebrity impressions; lead actors Walt Delaney and Julie Dahlinger don’t much look like Cruise or Holmes. But that’s half the fun, with the support of a  versatile group of co-stars:

Based on actual interviews and completely imagined scenes, seven actors portray 54 characters including Oprah Winfrey, David Miscavige, Matt Lauer, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Hartnett, Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone, Cruise/Wagner partner Paula Wagner, Steven Spielberg, Nicole Kidman and Suri.

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Naomi Campbell and Her Supermodel Castmates Dish About Their New ‘Face’

We were more than a little disappointed to learn that we missed Dan Stevens aka Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey when he lunched with producer Paula Wagner at Table One on Monday. (Doesn’t he know Wednesday is the day for lunch at Michael’s?) Luckily, today’s oh-so-fabulous lunch with the cast of Oxygen’s new ’supermodel competition’ series, The Face, more than made up for it. While in town to promote the new series, which premieres Tuesday, February 12 at 9 pm on Oxygen, supermodels Naomi Campbell, Karolina Kurkova, Coco Rocha and renowned photographer Nigel Barker decided to make ‘Lunch’ their sole joint appearance on their whirlwind media tour.

I couldn’t imagine what yet another reality competition series about fashion could bring to the party, but when I watched the screener of the premiere episode in anticipation for our lunch I was pleasantly surprised. Aside from its stellar production values, The Face has some serious fashion cred thanks to executive producer and supermodel coach Naomi Campbell’s considerable star power (along with fellow coaches Karolina Kurkova and Coco Rocha) and unrivaled sense of what works. As host, Nigel Barker is a commanding yet reassuring presence. Everything on the show has an authenticity that real fashionistas will appreciate, while giving ‘civilians’ a true glimpse into what it really takes to make it in modeling. The most refreshing twist the series offers is in its approach to working with the 12 hopefuls vying to be the new face of ULTA Beauty. The contestants also get some major opportunities in the course of the show, including photo shoots with the legendary Patrick Demarchelier and challenges with W magazine. Celebrities Wendy Williams and Amare Stoudemire make appearances as guest judges.

Coco Rocha and Diane Clehane

The three supermodels act as mentors to their respective teams and took their roles very seriously. Even though the show wrapped months ago, Naomi, Karolina and Coco forged such strong bonds with their ‘girls’ that all of them remain in touch with the wannabe models, offering career advice whenever the need should arise. “I really worry about my girls,” Naomi told me. “It’s funny, when I’m working in New York or Paris, I always feel like I’m going to miss everyone when the week is over, but after a few days you get on with it. When we finished shooting the show, I felt a little sad. I still talk to my girls and I’m texting them all the time. I really grew quite fond of them.”

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Roger Ailes, Barry Diller & The Squawk Box Super Heroes

1003_mockup.gifHail! Hail! The Wednesday gang is all here. The lunch scene at Michael’s was firing on all cylinders today as moguls (Barry Diller! Roger Ailes!), high-profile editors (David Zinczenko, Cindi Leive) and a heaping helping of talking heads (Kathie Lee Gifford, Ashleigh Banfield, Joe Kernen, Larry Kudlow and Andrew Ross Sorkin) made for a tasty media stew. There was actually gridlock in the dining room as the famous and fabulous stood in the aisles to intercept friends (and possible future employers?) on their way to their tables.

The biggest crowd was circling around Table One where Hollywoodlife.com’s Bonnie Fuller and Gerry Byrne (who is on parent company Penske Media Corp’s board) were hosting their monthly lunch where they bring together an interesting mix of folk to “cross-pollinate” says Bonnie, who leads the group as they chew over the latest trends in media (particularly in the digital space) and weigh in on how it affects their respective businesses. Gerry was the lone man among a table full of opinionated, highly successful women who weighed in on everything from reality stars — we learned Ashleigh Banfield is more than a little obsessed with the Kardashian sisters — to intellectual property. Designer Heather Thomson told the group that she spent $2.5 million in a lawsuit against lingerie giant Maidenform when she charged them with copying her patented three-panel tank top. She was awarded $6.57 million as settlement. Her takeaway: “Innovation needs to be protected.”

Leading the cheer for all that is digital, Bonnie said, “I’m so happy I crossed over from print” and is hooked by the immediacy of it all. “As a magazine editor, I felt like I was having a one-way conversation so much of the time,” she said of her stints as editor- in-chief at Glamour, Us Weekly and Cosmo. “At Hollywoodlife.com, we are intensely focused on our relationships with women with a need to know about the things they are about right now.”  Bonnie says the site is now getting 4.7 million monthly uniques who come to get their fix on everything concerning Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, Justin Bieber and the Kardashian sisters.

Michael's restaurant NYC
The gang at Table One

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Scientology Watcher Wonders: What’s Up in Commerce?

The Morton Report contributor Skip Press has another intriguing entry today about the Church of Scientology. Although he does not (by his own admission) have the resources to connect all the dots, he gets the ball rolling by raising the possibility that a massive printing facility recently  outfitted by the Church of Scientology in Commerce may be about more than just publishing the organization’s own materials.

Press, who once worked for the Church’s “Author Services” division, starts at a book option (Internet Dates from Hell) by Tom Cruise‘s former agent and production partner Paula Wagner, and ends some 1,200 words later with the idea that the output capabilities of the 185,000 square foot operation on Badini Blvd. greatly exceed the Church’s internal needs. Especially, he argues, since they already have another similar facility on Olympic Blvd. in east LA:

I did a bit more investigation and found out there are special padded floors inside [the Commerce facility], so workers can stay on their feet all day long without getting so exhausted… What in the world could they be doing to keep those presses going?…

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Scottie Pippen Mixes It Up With the Media Mob & Does Rosie Have a New Lady Love?

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Things have been pretty busy at Michael’s this week. On Monday, none other than James Bond aka Daniel Craig dropped by. (“His eyes are so blue!” cooed one smitten staffer). Yesterday, a very laid back Rosie O’Donnell showed up with, so we’re told, a new lady love in tow, and they didn’t have to wait for one of the coveted tables at the very front of the restaurant. They settled for something further back. Today, the usual Wednesday SRO crowd started showing up well before the appointed lunch hour, leaving plenty of time for air kissing and glad handing all around.

I was joined today by Lisa Sharkey, HarperCollins’s senior vice president and director of creative development. Lisa is one hot property herself having spent 25 years in television including stints at Good Morning America, Inside Edition and Al Roker‘s production company before making the switch to publishing four and a half years ago. “The skills were totally transferable. I wanted to bring the TV model to books. I love authors. When I was in television, I was always drawn to them. Now, I consider my authors part of my family and have great relationships with them,” Lisa tells me. “I’m much happier in book publishing because there is more time to spend on a projects. Books have the power to last for generations.” Now, anyone who is anyone — or who wants to be someone — is after Lisa to publish their books. This season, Lisa had no less than four books on the New York Times best seller list, including How to Love an American Man (currently being shopped as a film project by United Talent Agency), football phenom Tim Tebow‘s Through My Eyes, and soap opera diva Susan Lucci’s memoir,  All My Life (We really loved the scathing epilogue she added to the paperback edition taking ABC president Brian Frons to the woodshed for cancelling the beloved soap, All My Children. Go Susan!)

Lisa has a full slate of upcoming books where there is something for everyone. Later this month, actress Carre Otis‘ no-holds barred memoir, Beauty Disrupted, will tell all about her relationship with Mickey Rourke. Due out in November, Imperfect Justice by Jeffrey Ashton is sure to make headlines when the Casey Anthony prosecutor offers his version of what happened behind the scenes of her trial and why is he completely convinced of Anthony’s guilt. “The prosecutor’s story is the real story of the trial. He’s got a lot to say,” says Lisa. No doubt.  On the other end of the spectrum, HarperCollins has a slew of celebrity titles this fall including the first novel penned by those ubiquitous Kardashian sisters, which was Lisa’s idea. The book, due out November 15, spins a fictional (but no doubt inspired by real life) tale of three sisters growing up with a famous father in Hollywood. “The fun is trying to figure out what’s real disguised as fiction,” says Lisa. There was quite a fracas coming up with a title. Lisa wanted to call it Keeping Up but, she told me, the powers that be at E! put the kibosh on the idea saying that was their brand. Lisa then came up with the idea of launching a contest on Twitter asking followers to come up with their own titles. The winning entry, Dollhouse, was submitted by a gal named Courtney who will herself be written into the book as a wedding planner. Savvy Lisa, who is always coming up with clever ways to market her books, decided the cover will be in leopard print and is hoping to do a special edition adorned with Swarovski crystal (“Kim loves bling!”). The sisters’ fans can also turn the cover over for a special keepsake poster that is sure to find its way into plenty of teen bedrooms.

As for the general state of the industry, Lisa weighs in with this: “Publishing is in a new transformative stage. The new wave of eBooks has opened up a world of possibilities. For those who are addicted to technology and books, it’s the perfect fit.”  To wit: HarperCollins’ eBook version of Sammy Hagar‘s best selling memoir, Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock, featured enhanced content that included a sit-down with Hagar talking about his career at the end of each chapter. Lisa and her team expect the eBook version of Gregg Allman‘s yet-to-be-titled memoir due out next year to have a wide range of enhanced content. By the way, I got a glimpse of the book’s stunning cover and it has best seller written all over it.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Fashionista Mickey Ateyeh with an impressive crowd of power lunch gals: producer Fran Weissler, Fern Mallis (looking fabulous since being on the mend from two broken elbows), Cindy Lewis, Barbara Cutler and Laurie Tisch

2. Six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen, with PR gal Tammy Brooks and some other lovely looking ladies we didn’t get to meet.

3. Proprietor Michael McCarty holding court with Mort Hamburg (Nice to meet you!) and another formidable looking fellow

4. Peter Brown with the very chic Judith Czelusniak. Read more

Glenn Close and Damages Cast Celebrate Season Four

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Before dashing off to their summer cottages in the Hamptons for the long holiday weekend, the media mavens and moguls were at their regular perches at Michael’s today for a bit of last minute networking. It was SRO at the bar and the dining room was jam packed, because the Garden Room was reserved for a party hosted by the cast of Damages, the water cooler legal drama starring Glenn Close as a ruthless Manhattan attorney.

Last year, FX cancelled the show after three seasons, but it got a stay of execution from Direct TV which will air the season four premiere on July 13. I caught up with the series’ co-creator and show runner Daniel Zelman (who happens to be Debra Messing‘s husband, in case you didn’t know) before the party to find out what he thought of the move. “FX was wonderful and terrifically supportive, and Direct TV has been great. We’re thrilled about their commitment to the show,” he told me, adding that Damages will be the first stateside television series to air exclusively on the company’s new Audience Network. (They also aired the beloved but viewer deprived Friday Night Lights, which they shared with NBC.)

I asked Daniel what ripped-from-the-headlines news story would serve as the inspiration for the upcoming season. “The privatization of  war industry,” he told me, saying that the new scripts are “loosely based” on those stories about for-hire firms like Blackwater who are paid to go to Iraq and Afghanistan. “The stories behind the for-profit companies involved in the war effort are very interesting. There is a lot to explore,” he said.  Last season’s scalding Shakespearean version of  the Madoff saga certainly made for very compelling human drama, and Daniel says that while there is no single larger than life figure this season, faithful viewers will be rewarded. “At the end of it, we hope they feel like they’ve been watching a 13-hour movie and feel satisfied with their investment.” With a stellar cast (all in attendance today) headed by Close, Rose Byrne (loved you in Bridesmaids!), John Goodman and Dylan Baker, we’re sure viewers will have plenty to chew on. We’ll be watching.

I had a lively lunch today with Self’s editor-in chief Lucy Danziger who arrived on her scooter with entertainment director Laura Brounstein. Rounding out our foursome was Huffington Post’s new women’s editor Lori Leibovich who is busy these days getting ready to launch a host of new verticals including ones devoted to parenting, baby boomers and pets.

Lucy just celebrated her 10th anniversary at Self , and she’s more energized than ever. She gave Lori and me a quick tour of Self’s July issue with cover girl Zooey Deschanel on the magazine’s iPad App which featured videos of fashion spreads with Cobra Starship set to music and stop action video demonstrating the exercise moves in the fitness features. This being ‘The Music Issue,’ Lucy and her team came up with some clever ways to get readers’ heart rates up, including playlists designed to motivate and slim them down. “Music is scientifically proven to be a powerful fitness tool,” she says. Just ask May’s cover girl Gwyneth Paltrow.

It was clear from seeing Lucy zip her way around her iPad during lunch that she has completely embraced her magazine’s digital doppelganger (which just launched in April with cover girl Kim Kardashian hosting live chats) and sees it as a way to connect with her readers like never before.  ”The print magazine is great. It refreshes a reader’s commitment on a monthly basis,” she explained. “But we can reach the same reader every day with something new with our App. We refresh our content every day and are constantly coming up with new ways to make our readers feel more involved. We had three million uniques last month and, in the digital world, we can reach those readers 24/7.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1.  Lucy Danziger, Laura Brounstein, Lori Leibovich and yours truly

2. Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Sherrie Westin

4.  PR scion Steve Rubenstein

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Lunch: James Cameron’s Oscar Campaign Comes to Michael’s

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was Hollywood on the Hudson at Michael’s today as Peggy Siegal hosted one of her legendary lunches right smack in the middle of the dining room. Today’s guest of honor was James Cameron. Looks like Peggy pulled out all the stops, rounding up quite an eclectic collection of actors, directors, and entertainment A-listers to celebrate the Avatar auteur’s nine Oscar nominations and, no doubt, drum up a few votes. Ballots are due March 2! In case you haven’t heard, Cameron is up against some stiff competition in the best picture and director categories. His ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, has been nabbing plenty of statuettes this award season for helming The Hurt Locker, and everyone in Hollywood is waiting to see who comes out on top on Oscar night.

I was squeezed into the bar with Redbook‘s editor-in-chief Stacy Morrison and Hearst’s director of public relations Alexandra Carlin. Stacy is about to publish her first book, Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the Hell of Divorce (Simon & Schuster) next month and it’s a real page turner. After spending a year “trying not to write the book,” Stacy decided to chronicle her painful but ultimately life-affirming journey from jilted wife of a year-old baby to happy single mother. The memoir, which seems destined for the big screen, took two years of writing and rewriting on weekends to finish. “I wanted to make people think differently about divorce,” Stacy told me. After tiring of deflecting people’s inappropriate questions about the split, Stacy says she ultimately thought: ‘If you want to see the real story, here it is.’ And she doesn’t hold anything back. From the nights spent sobbing on her kitchen floor to the painful conversations with her soon-to-be ex, it’s all there.

I asked Stacy if she had any misgivings about exposing so much about her personal life in the book, given her high-profile position as a relationship ‘expert.’ (She got her boss Cathie Black‘s blessing to write it.) On the contrary, she told me. “The book is a resilience road map,” says Stacy. Miraculously, she and her ex-husband have managed to remain friends (really!) and have a co-parenting strategy that works for the couple and their young son. Stacy even dedicated the book to the man who left her because, she says, “I couldn’t have written it without him in more ways than one.”

The book is getting plenty of good buzz and even earned high praise from none other than Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote of her own reawakening after divorce in Eat, Pray, Love. Gilbert “loved the tone” of the book, calling it “real, without the slightest hint of self-pity.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Just an intimate lunch for 38 including James Cameron and pals Bob Balaban, Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn (looking absolutely ageless), Avatar villain Stephen Lang, indie It girl Parker Posey, documentarian Ken Burns and director Julie Taymor, Jean Doumanian and Warner Music’s Lyor Cohen. Also in attendance: Les Moonves, John Stossel, Felicia Taylor, and “Mayor” Joe Armstrong. Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar odds-maker Dave Karger was also on hand taking it all in.

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Harry Sloan Going to His Cruise Missile Defense

HarrySloanandTC.jpgEarlier today, MGM chief executive Harry E. Sloan came sprinting to the defense of golden boy Tom Cruise, to massage the media interpretation of the meltdown of United Artists under Cruise and partner Paula Wagner:

STATEMENT FROM HARRY E. SLOAN, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC.

LOS ANGELES, CA August 14, 2008 — After reading erroneous reports about Tom Cruise and United Artists, I would like to clarify that
we are honored that he will continue as our full partner in control of UA. He is in the middle of one of the greatest careers our
industry has ever seen and one that will continue at the top of
United Artists Entertainment.

Not sure this will help, but it’s nice to see the family that plays together, well, stays together? Hmmm.

Cruise’s ‘Valkyrie’ Turns Into An Xmas Pic — Break Out The Mistletoe!

valkyrie.jpgTom Cruise‘s embattled film “Valkyrie” was just shifted by MGM to a Dec. 26 release date, moved up from the Feb. 13, 2009 that was originally planned.
The film has had nothing but controversy, but MGM and parent Sony are probably hoping first, to have the film considered for Oscar potential for Cruise and director Bryan Singer and second, to take advantage for the good cheer that good Nazi killing films always stimulate.
This is the second United Artists-driven story today. Earlier, partner Paula Wagner said she’s leaving.
FBLA tends to doubt if Wagner’s move was reflective of the fear surrounding “Valkyrie.”

Paula Wagner Says Bye Bye to UA

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Paula Wagner, the once Tom Cruise agent who turned into the Cruise production partner at United Artists, is leaving the mini-studio to start up her own indie production shingle.
Variety reported as much in a small write-up of the news.
The move was unexpected and probably didn’t have anything to do with her husband Rick Nicita‘s departure from CAA two weeks ago to run Morgan Creek Pictures.
But maybe it did.

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