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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Bressler’

Barbara Walters and Vernon Jordan Make Appearances; NBC’s David Corvo Serves Up TV Dish

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It’s been hard enough to keep track of the steady stream of A-listers that pour into Michael’s on any given Wednesday, but this afternoon really kept me hopping. While the usual roster of boldface names traded air kisses and table hopped in the front room, the garden room was filled to the brim for a luncheon hosted by Patricia Duff to celebrate The Gray Zone, the first novel from her longtime pal, producer and screenwriter Daphna Ziman. Perched at the bar with my friend, designer David Biscaye who will soon be off to London and Torino, Italy in search of treasures for his clients, I nabbed Daphna for a quick chat before she could join her guests that included author Naomi Wolf, Debbie Bancroft, Patty Raynes, artist Mark Kostabi and actress Beverly Todd. (You might recall Beverly’s scene stealing performance in Crash as a drug addicted mother devastated by the death of her son.)

Daphna told me she got the idea for the book two years ago in the midst of watching her marriage implode. She found it “empowering” to write about a heroine who flees an abusive household and becomes involved in a personal crusade to stop human trafficking. “I was stuck in the horrific reality of a divorce but I was able to live in another world through my character,” said the author. While the novel is a work of fiction, Daphna knows her subject matter well. She is founder of CUN (Children Uniting Nations) and the chairperson of ABC LOVE (Adoption Brings Children Love). An adoptive mother of two, she is passionate about stopping the trafficking of children and will be speaking out on the subject during her book tour that includes a spot on tonight’s broadcast of NBC’s Nightly News.

Here’s a rundown on today’s crowd:

1.  David Poltrack of CBS presiding over a table full of business types

2. Peter Brown

3. Producer Jean Doumanian, Barbara Lieberman and Vidicom’s Christy Ferer

4. Mike Ovitz with a well-heeled gent we didn’t get to meet

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Joan Collins, Dennis Basso And The Media Mob

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The biblical rain didn’t keep the crowds away from Michael’s today. The media mavens were networking at warp speed (Bonnie Fuller, we mean you) while the social swans and style set enjoyed their usual air-kissed filled leisurely lunches.

Oh, to have a rich husband (or good divorce attorney) and deep-pocketed clients. We can dream, can’t we?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Fidelis Global’s Gerry Byrne and Hollywoodlife.com‘s Bonnie Fuller jointly hosting what Gerry tells me is the first of a series’ of  lunches with “influencers.” The tastemakers at the table today were HL’s CRO Alyson Racer, Showtime’s main man Matt BlankCosmopolitan’s Donna Lagani, Caroline Hirsch, MediaLink’s Wenda Millard and Marie Claire’s fashion director, Nina Garcia.

2. Alexis Carrington lives! Joan Collins, sporting an ensemble that would have passed muster at the royal wedding, with husband Percy Gibson, producer Terry Allen Kramer and Joyce Rubin.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Men’s Health head honcho David Zinczenko. This was Joe’s second lunch at Michael’s this week. On Monday, he came by with his sister Marilyn Spence and her husband Don who were  in visiting from Plano, Texas. The trio, I’m told, had a grand old time.

4.  Peter Brown and Liz Smith, looking none the worse for wear from a recent hip injury. The indomitable Liz, who got plenty of hugs from her pals in the dining room,  dished with fellow Texan Joe Armstrong until Peter arrived.

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Kerry Kennedy & Jackie Author Come Face To Face

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Sometimes it seems as if all roads lead to Michael’s — well, at least on Wednesdays. Today, the planets aligned to bring together folks with some interesting six-degrees-of-separation connections. I was talking to ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong who introduced me to Greg Lawrence, author of Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (St. Martins). Greg interviewed over 125 writers and editors who worked with Jackie during her 19 years at Viking Press. (The excerpt that ran in Vanity Fair recently was dishy and full of colorful details of Jackie’s life as a working girl. The paperback edition comes out this summer.) Turns out Greg worked with Jackie on three books, including one with his former wife, ballerina Gelsey Kirkland. Their memoir, Dancing on My Grave, caused quite an uproar at the time for its revelations. “It was quite scandalous,” recalled Greg, smiling at the memory.

That got me thinking. Since Greg knew one of the most famous members of the Kennedy family pretty well, I asked if he thought Caroline Kennedy was really behind the campaign that got The History Channel to drop their plans to air The Kennedys mini-series. “Oh, definitely,” he told me. “Caroline is very sensitive about these things,  and since she has a documentary with ABC and a book with Hyperion planned on her own about Jackie, she was able to stop it.”

Before he could say more, Kerry Kennedy walked up to say hello to Joe (a longtime friend of the Kennedy family) unaware there was a journalist in her midst who had delved into the life of a Kennedy for fun and profit. When Joe introduced Kerry to Greg and told her about his book, I observed what appeared to be a cautiously cordial response. It must be surreal to see your relative on the cover of a book someone is holding only to find out the author of that book is the person you’re talking to, although I’m guessing  it’s not all that unusual if you’re a Kennedy.  We were saved from any further awkwardness when Henry Schleiff (who knows everyone) grabbed Kerry for a big hug and pulled her aside for a little chat.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Kerry Kennedy, presiding over a table of casually clad diners

2. Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer, having what looked to be a very intense conversation with uber agent Wayne Kabak

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong with director Susan Stroman, Ed Victor and his lovely wife, Carol

4. Hudson News CEO James S. Cohen with a doppelganger power lunch pal

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Separate Tables for Jann Wenner and Neal Boulton

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We were grateful that several faithful Lunch readers emailed to let us know  Bill Clinton was at Michael’s yesterday. Thanks guys! I guess Mr. Clinton didn’t get the memo stipulating that all A-listers book their lunch dates for Wednesdays. Oh, well. Seems the former president was lunching with Harvey Weinstein to settle a bet on Harvey’s little production company winning an Oscar for The King’s Speech. These two under-the-radar guys were accompanied by a squadron of (Clinton) handlers and Secret Service men who were stationed all over the restaurant.  Sorry we missed all the excitement!

Today, things got off to a slightly late start (1:00 pm is the new noon if you’re keeping tracking of such things), but the dining room quickly filled up with plenty of master of the universe types (Barry! Woody!) who are always interesting to observe in their  natural habitat.  All I can say is french fries must be brain food.  I expect the place to be going full-tilt tomorrow night when The Kelly Gang hosts The 7th Annual Kelly Gang St. Patrick’s Day Benefit. The organization’s founders include The New York Post’s Keith Kelly, House Beautiful publisher Kate Kelly Smith and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. The ‘Gang’ is back in full swing after taking a hiatus last year and is expecting a huge turnout to raise money for this year’s beneficiaries: Catholic Relief Services in Haiti and Tuesday’s Children. So, if you’re looking for a great St. Pat’s celebration that is doing a lot of good, stop by Thursday night and bring your checkbook.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Legendary crooner Neil Sedaka, sporting sneakers and a jaunty beret with a chic looking lady and a fellow we didn’t get to meet. We overheard Neil say that his son, Marc Sedaka, was on the Today show this morning alongside wife Samantha to talk about Marc’s new book, What He Can Expect When She’s Not Expecting. The book deals with how a spouse can support a wife’s struggle with infertility. Talk about an evolved man! Impressive.

2. Jets owner Woody Johnson, who hobbled in on crutches. Hope you’re on the mend soon.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong with Peter Jennings’ widow, Kayce Freed.  Kayce, a former producer of 20/20, is the co-founder of The Documentary Group which produced the much lauded To Iraq and Back: Bob Woodruff Reports for ABC News which chronicled his recovery from his near fatal brain injury.

4. Barry Diller and an unidentified important looking gent

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Blake Lively, Charlie Rose And An Ex-Caped Crusader

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I just love it when the random celebrity turns up at Michael’s for lunch. It’s always entertaining to watch the usual suspects try to simultaneously network and star gaze. Today’s out-of-left-field appearances represented both new and old Hollywood (just like this year’s Oscars but without James Franco‘s near comatose involvement). For fans of eighties screen gems like the original Batman and Beetlejuice, there was Michael Keaton. The younger demographic was represented by Gossip Girl star Blake Lively, who, it should be said, is even more beautiful (and taller) in person.

There was plenty of Tinseltown talk at my table, too. I was lunching today with producer Joan Gelman and marketing consultant and political commentator Robert Zimmerman, who is keeping busy with appearances on CNN and Fox News. Joan, who has more than paid her dues in television, had this to say about the Oscars: “You need a heavyweight to carry that show. You need a comedian who can make the audience laugh. It was a horribly produced show.”

Maybe so, but we all agreed that Bravo’s Andy Cohen was way out of line to trash the performance of the school kids from Staten Island who closed out the show by singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Appearing on Morning Joe, Cohen told the incredulous hosts that the kids’ performance (which got a standing ovation from the audience) “ruined everything” and that he was so pained by the sight of kids in t-shirts (evidently, he thought they should have dressed up) that he was “looking for a knife to stick in his eyes.”

To that, Robert asked, “The man who is responsible for such high-brow television as The Real Housewives franchise is suddenly the arbiter of good taste and glamour in Hollywood?” Don’t expect an apology anytime soon, either. In the current media climate, said Robert, it’s more than likely Cohen is relishing the attention he’s getting for taking aim at the elementary schoolers. “Creating buzz is more relevant than making sense.” Apparently so.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Hollywood heavyweight Freddie Gershon (Loved the sweater!) with Linda Janklow

2. Spotted: Blake Lively and Vivi Nevo. When this unlikely duo showed up without a reservation, things got a lot more interesting. (One pesky paparazzo seemingly transfixed by the sight of the actress stationed himself outside of the window overlooking the dining room for the entire lunch and refused to move no matter how many times he was asked to leave) We’re more intrigued by Vivi, who, we hear is an Israeli-born venture capitalist and was once engaged to the Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi. Could this be the start of another Hollywood romance? Maybe he’s just interested in fashionable folk. After all, the last time we spotted him at Michael’s he was sitting at this very table with Anna Wintour.

3. A trio of social swans: Margo McNabb Nederlander and producers Terry Allen Kramer and Francine LeFrak.

4.  Charlie Rose (who we overheard introducing himself to Michael Keaton) and Universal Pictures CEO Stacey Snider

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David Zinczenko, Keith Kelly and The Media Mavens

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Sorry, but you can’t expect dish about an Oscar winner every week. (We’re still reeling from our brush with Cate Blanchett in the dining room last Wednesday!) We’re chalking it up to school vacations, but the scene was relatively quiet at Michael’s today where the regulars had to be contented dishing with their dates rather than people watching.

Because we aim to please, I’ll fill you in on who has been spotted in the dining room since we filed our last column. On Friday, I was thrilled to be seated near Whoopi Goldberg, Bette Midler, Marlo Thomas, Liz Smith (looking better than ever!) and Cynthia McFadden. I don’t know if the feeling was mutual since I had my six year-old with me. Yesterday, my pal and accessory maven Mickey Ateyeh popped in with designer Carlos Falchi and actress Brenda Vaccaro. Here’s hoping there’s more to report next week!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Media Advisory Group’s chairman Jack Myers with Dave Jackson and Orlando Reece of Grab Networks.

2. Men’s Health honcho David Zinczenko and The New York Post’s media guru Keith Kelly. Before Keith arrived, I caught up with David at the bar. David  is among the Elaine’s loyalists who are completely aghast at Michael Wolff’s vicious depiction of  the late Elaine Kaufman in the March issue of British GQ. According to an item on Page Six today, Wolff likens the beloved restaurateur to a ”low class madam” and describes the food at her iconic celebrity haunt as “inedible.” Very nice.

3. Producer Jean Doumanian and a pal we didn’t get to meet.

4.  The Metropolitan Museum’s John O’Keefe (loved the bow tie!) who passed the time waiting for his lunch date, Tim Mulligan, by sipping chardonnay and skimming the latest issue of Star.

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David Carey, Steve Madden and The Power Blondes

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Not even the seventh snow storm of the season (we’re begging for mercy — enough!) could keep the faithful away from Michael’s today. There were power gals aplenty and media mavens galore who braved the elements to make it to 55th Street. We marvel at your stamina. (Is it me or do all successful women over a certain age in this city eventually wind up with the identical shade of blonde?)

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Literary agent Esther Newberg, presiding over a table of wonder women  including bestselling crime novelist Linda Fairstein, author and ABC News correspondent Lynn Sherr, CBS’ Lesley Stahl, and the Honorable Kimba Woods.

2. Fashionista Fern Mallis (We miss you on The Fashion Show!), whose consulting business is thriving, and a stylish gent we didn’t get to meet.

3. Hudson News’ James Cohen.

4. 2 Degrees Ventures’ Mitch Kanner.

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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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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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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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