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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Descherer’

Carole Radziwill on Her New Book and Dueling With Bravo’s Delusional Diva

LunchAtMichaelsWhen I first made my date to have lunch with Carole Radziwill some time ago, I was looking forward to talking to her about her first novel, The Widow’s Guide to Sex & Dating (Henry Holt) as well as her astonishing best-selling memoir, What Remains, in which she chronicled the aftermath of her husband’s death in a deep, affecting and intricately personal way. It was fascinating to me to see that she had approached the earth-shattering event of losing her husband, Anthony Radziwill, from two diametrically different perspectives and chosen to write about young widowhood twice. While her memoir came first, published six years ago, Carole told me the novel was ten years in the making. “It started percolating around that time, but I wasn’t in that state of mind. The novel was written in a much more whimsical state of mind.” But she made headlines in the tabloids this morning for another reason — a fellow castmate of The Real Housewives of New York City, Aviva Drescher, wrongly accused her of hiring a ghostwriter for What Remains, detonating the requisite explosion (this one dubbed “Bookgate”) that fuels the Bravo squawkfest, which Andy Cohen clearly lives for.

Carole Radziwill and Diane Clehane

Carole Radziwill and Diane Clehane

Here’s a primer on “Bookgate.” If you’re not a regular viewer, try to follow along: When Carole joined the show last season, Aviva could not have been more fawning, going so far as to tell her that What Remains inspired her to look at her own life differently. Fast forward a few episodes and this season, Aviva and Carole have become full-fledged enemies (the women didn’t know each other before the show), mainly because Carole deals in what is actually going on, while Aviva seems to be hell-bent in doing whatever it takes to stay relevant on Housewives. In this case, Aviva first asked Carole to vet a ghostwriter she was going to use on her book (and now denies she even used one) and then somehow turned the whole thing around by telling the other women on the show that “word on the street” was that Carole used a ghostwriter for What Remains. Said Carole: “There’s always one housewife on every show that’s completely contrived and that’s her. Everything she does, she does for the show.” And then of the subsequent blow-up: “If I’ve helped Aviva sell books, I’m sure my thank you note is in the mail. This is supposed to be a reality show, so I’m interjecting some reality here. I’m honest about my life.” Got it?

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David Zinczenko on His New ‘High-Profile Life’ and the Real Story Behind His Leaving Rodale

1003_mockup.gifI’ve been looking forward to today’s Michael’s lunch for quite a while. David Zinczenko, who I met in this very dining room many years ago, was joining me with his business partner Stephen Perrine and Patrick Connors, the new publisher of Men’s Fitness. As most faithful readers of this column know, Dave, arguably one of the highest profile editors in history during his tenure as EIC of Men’s Health, and Stephen, head of Rodale Books, were unceremoniously fired from their positions at Rodale last November. The news shocked industry insiders and made headlines all over the media landscape, most notably in a piece penned by Keith Kelly for The New York Post where Maria Rodale cattily commented that David could now go on living his “high-profile life.” When asked if his departure would hurt the brand, she sniped, “It’s not Dave’s Health –  it’s Men’s Health.” Jealous much?

I was thrilled to score the exclusive first sit-down with Dave and Stephen to get the real story behind their firings, an overview of their new venture, Galvanized Brands, and the first look (which Patrick brought along hot off the presses today) of the June issue of Men’s Fitness, the result of their collaboration with their first client, AMI. Dave and Stephen are co-founders and CEO/president and chief creative officer, respectively, of their new firm. Stephen describes Galvanized Brands as a “broad-based brand building and media company that helps other companies unlock their hidden value specializing in health and wellness,” and the duo is positively euphoric about the company’s prospects.

Patrick Connors, David Zinczenko, Diane Clehane and Stephen Perrine

Not surprisingly, it turns out Dave’s living a “high-profile life” that made millions for his former employer has its advantages. (The highly successful Eat This, Not That series he wrote while at Rodale sold 7 million copies in North America.) Last month, it was announced Random House gave Dave distribution and a multi-million dollar deal for his own imprint, Zinc Ink, through its Ballantine Bantam Dell division. As part of the deal, Dave will pen three health/fitness books, the first of which will be published in 2014.  Zinc Ink will publish six to 12 non-fiction and lifestyle books annually — and Dave will share in the profits. He explained that, in addition to Zinc Ink, Random House is prepared to create a series of imprints, like say, AMI/Galvanized, tied to media brands which Random House will publish and distribute. There are currently “half a dozen” AMI/Galvanized book idea percolating, and Stephen told me the first book will be published some time this summer.

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A Party For Kate White and A Madoff Sighting

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It’s the rare Wednesday when I don’t leave Michael’s with a fistful of business cards from some striver or media maven intent on making an impression. That’s why it’s so newsworthy when the exact opposite occurs. Today was the rare occasion when a famous — make that infamous — name did everything he could not to be noticed. Andrew Madoff arrived with a woman named Catherine Hooper (Andrew’s fiancee) and a little girl in tow, having made their reservation online under Catherine’s name just minutes before. The threesome took a seat in the lounge to wait for their table a few minutes before noon with a handful of people who were oblivious to his presence. Andrew did his best to avoid eye contact with the people around him and said nothing while waiting for his table.

I spotted him through the window when I got to the front door and decided I would ask him what he thought of Stephanie Madoff Mack‘s media tour for her book, which happened to coincide with the publication of the book Laurie Sandell wrote with his cooperation and the participation of his mother, Ruth Madoff. Unfortunately, as soon as he realized I knew who he was, he was off like a shot and I’d missed my moment. If you don’t want to be noticed, why come to the media mecca on a Wednesday? Just asking.

Table 1 was the center of the action today where Linda Fairstein was hosting a lunch for good pal Kate White to celebrate the publication of Kate’s latest novel, So Pretty It Hurts, a Bailey Weggins mystery. I was thrilled to be among the table of fun, fearless power gals. The lively group, which included actress Stephanie March, Dr. Holly Phillips, Women’s Health editor Michele Promaulayko,  photographer Peggy Vance (Mrs. Cyrus Vance to you), Hilary Gumbel (wife of Bryant Gumbel) and Giorgio Armani Beauty’s Kelly Thompson, had plenty to talk about.

Before everyone arrived, I caught up with Kate to ask her about her latest Bailey book (it’s her sixth in the series and eighth novel in all in addition to several business books she’s written). So Pretty It Hurts finds crime writer Bailey at the center of the mystery surrounding the death of supermodel Devon Barr. The story kicks off when the beauty is killed during a weekend in the country at a music mogul’s mansion and the house guests become the suspects. The whodunnit  is in the style of those Agatha Christie page turners where everyone is stuck in the house (this time because of a snowstorm) and left to ponder if there is a killer among them. We’re starting it tonight.

Kate White, Linda Fairstein, Stephanie March. Hilary Gumbel, Dr. Holly Phillips. Michele Promaulayko, Kelly Thompson, Peggy Vance, Diane Clehane
Front row (L-R): Kate White, Linda Fairstein, Stephanie March. Hilary Gumbel. Back row (L-R): Dr. Holly Phillips. Michele Promaulayko, Kelly Thompson, Peggy Vance, Diane Clehane

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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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Tim Gunn, Pharrell Williams and a Flock of Fashionistas

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Today’s dreary downpour didn’t keep the faithful away from Michael’s. After missing our usual Wednesday lunch last week (It seems the flu season is starting early this year), we were happy to see that the joint was jam packed with the usual suspects, plenty of fashionistas, and some interesting new folks we hadn’t run into before. (Tim Gunn and Grace Mirabella get my vote as the most interesting set of stylistas we’ve come across in this dining room for quite a while.)

But I knew someone important must be here when I spotted two formidable fellows at the bar. It turns out they were the bodyguards of multi-hyphenate Pharrell Williams who, I must admit, I didn’t immediately recognize because he was somewhat hidden under his red ski cap. The musician-producer-composer and fashion designer (Billionaire Boys Club, Ice Cream Clothing) sure knows who to dress to impress. We were coveting his Chanel sneakers. A man of unique personal style to be sure.

I was joined today by my good friend Dr. Phillip Romero who is keeping pretty busy these days. Phil is in the process of moving into chic new midtown digs where, in addition to seeing patients for his practice as a family therapist, he’ll be launching a new business venture which will include classes and seminars on ”family resilience”  for parents. In his spare time, he’s also getting a lot of interest from several media companies who want to bring his fascinating book, The Art Imperative, to television. I just had to ask Phil what he thought of New York’s cover story about the recession era, post-hope generation who are grappling with the harsh reality of coming of age in this era of uncertainty. One reason these young people are struggling so much, says Phil, is because they were “over parented” and “didn’t learn to take care of themselves.” He says many overprotective parents will inflict the  same fate on their children if they’re not careful. “It’s a cultural problem,” he says. “Parents want to protect their kids from the things they struggled with but, in doing so, focus on their own past instead of being involved in the present and their child’s own needs. They wind up saddling kids with the parents’ problems that have nothing to do with their own life. Kids have to be free to create themselves.”

When it comes to dealing with the ‘new normal’  on a macro level, Phil offers this bit of advice which, to me, sounds like a universal prescription: “The enemy is not the economy, or your spouse, or all the new technology. Today the enemy is chronic relationship stress that tears families apart. When it takes hold, you forget how to love. When we can learn to master this stress and we can change our brain response to the stress triggers in our relationships at home, at work and in the world.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Lynn de Rothschild (Andrew Stein‘s ex, in case you were wondering)

2. Wayne Kabak and UTA’s Simon Trewin

3. Michael Fuchs

4. Jacqui Safra (Jean Doumanian‘s hubby)

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Melania Trump, Charles Grodin and Princess Di’s Wedding Designer

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The oppressive heat didn’t keep the faithful away from Michael’s today. The joint was jumping with media mavens of every stripe, including one editor who is clearly having a moment (David Zinczenko), high-profile publishers (Connie Ann Phillips, Donna Lagani) and, of course, a boldfaced name (Melania Trump) thrown in the mix.

It seemed as if all anyone wanted to talk about on (and off) the record was the imploding scandal surrounding Rupert Murdoch. Said one source close to the action, “This could be bigger than anyone yet knows. Just wait if this thing hits New York. That would be major.” Uber agent and Londoner Ed Victor weighed in with this: “I made a $100 bet with Alfred Taubman that by this time next year [Murdoch] won’t be CEO.” And why? The corporation has no choice but to “throw him under the bus,” he said, adding that the televised hearings that have everyone riveted are “a complete wash.” Stay tuned.

I was joined today by Morgan Stanley’s Patrick Murphy and his sister, author and documentarian Mary Murphy. While I’ve had my share of Michael’s chats with Patrick, who spent four years with the Bloomberg administration and was one of the folks responsible for bringing Fashion Week to Lincoln Center, we’d never had our own lunch. These days, he’s hard at work at Morgan Stanley’s Reiser Group where he manages the finances of families, foundations and pension funds. “It’s so rewarding,” he tells me. “So many people are in need of good financial advice.” Indeed.

I was also glad I got the chance to finally sit down with Mary, having been so impressed by the success of her multimedia project, Hey, Boo: Harper  Lee & To Kill A Mockingbird. The paperback version of the book is out this week, and the DVD, which features interviews with a host of A-listers including Tom Brokaw and Oprah Winfrey reading their favorite passages and reflecting on the novel’s legendary influence, is out and available on Netflix and iTunes today. Mary also just learned that PBS’ American Masters just bought the television rights. “That’s pretty much the biggest thing that can happen to you as a documentarian. I’m thrilled.”

She and I learned we were both inspired to become writers because of our love of the children’s classic, Harriet the Spy written in 1964 by Louise Fitzhugh. “When I think about it, there were definitely some similarities between Harriet and [Mockingbird heroine] Scout,” says Mary. The moral of the story: Parents, turn off the television and read to your children.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Producer Freddie Gershorn

2. Ed Victor and author Will Schwalbe, former Hyperion VP turned author whose new book, SEND: Why People Email So Badly and How To Do It Better, has people talking – and texting.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, O Magazine’s Sara Nelson and two other gals we didn’t get to meet.

4. Stephen Swid

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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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Charlie Rose, Bonnie Fuller And The Ex-Mr. Star Jones

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We’re a bit spoiled by the back-to-back A-list sightings of the last two weeks (Cate Blanchett! Blake Lively!), so today we had to content ourselves with wondering what the media mavens we haven’t seen in the dining room in ages (Bonnie Fuller) were up to over their Cobb Salads.

Well, at least things were pretty lively at my table. I was joined by Dr. Phillip Romero who I was introduced to in this very dining room by our mutual friend, Cablevision’s Barry Frey. I couldn’t wait to get the good doctor’s take on Charlie Sheen and the ongoing media freak show that shows no sign of slowing down. Phil told me he agreed with Celebrity Rehab’s Dr. Drew Pinsky‘s diagnosis that Sheen is bipolar. Based on his exhibiting symptoms of “hypomania, grandiosity and hyper sexualization,” says Phil, “That’s clearly what’s going on.”

Phil, who has been counseling individuals and families in crisis for over 25 years and recently published two books, The Art Imperative and Phantom Stress , is “disgusted” by the media’s apparent glee at milking their latest cash cow until it dries up — or dies. ”I am appalled at the media’s vampirizing of mental illness.” One of the worst offenders thus far, says Phil, has been Piers Morgan who, he observes, was encouraging Sheen’s inexplicable behavior during the fallen star’s appearance on the CNN show. “Morgan was clearly enabling Charlie Sheen during his interview and seemingly happy to do so. It made me very uncomfortable. Where are the people that could help this man? If Charlie keeps up at this pace without the help he needs he could become psychotic and harm himself or others.”  Another ratings bonanza in the making.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Most of the Imber Gang, including Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Jeff Greenfield.

2. Abernathy & MacGregor’s Jim Abernathy

3. Producer Francine LeFrak and two well-heeled gal pals.

4. Charlie Rose and a limping Tom Freston.
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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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John Sykes, Jared Kushner & Moguls on the Make

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Sometimes it’s the random celebrity sighting like recent visitors Michael Douglas and Glenn Close that gives Michael’s that jolt of adrenaline during our weekly Wednesday visits. And sometimes it’s the sheer power quotient of the dining room that gets our attention. As one regular told me: “I can always tell who is looking for money and who is writing the checks when I come here. It’s the best business scorecard around.”

Today I was joined by power publicist Catherine Saxton, who knows just about everybody but never spins and tells, and Richard Smullen, co-founder and CEO of Beezag and AdGenesis. We had a fascinating chat about the ‘wild west’ of Internet advertising and how absolutely maddening those unwanted pop-up ads are. When Richard launched Beezag last November with Laurent Alhadeff, they created a different kind of online advertising environment which they’ve cleverly coined as ‘Me-commerce.’ Richard explains beezag’s consumer-centric marketing concept this way: “It’s about relevancy and reward. Consumers watch entertaining branded content and video ads they love and get discounts they deserve because they’re thanked with special offers and incentives from advertisers.”

By matching brands to the consumers who want to hear about them, Richard reports that beezag delivers clients an average of 25 percent click-through rates. The members-only, opt-in multi-platform community has some pretty serious brainpower behind it. Richard tells me his ‘executive council’ of advisors includes Gerry Byrne, Wenda Millard, Michael Kassan and Bob Friedman. For someone who just landed in New York from South Africa in January of last year, Richard seems to have figured out pretty quickly how to make things happen in Manhattan. We’re impressed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Boy wonder Jared Kushner with his dad Charles, presiding over a table full of movers and shakers. The New York Observer owner must have had some big deal brewing, because he stepped outside several times to take a very important call. Or perhaps it was just the missus, Ivanka Trump, asking what to make for dinner.

2. My friend and PR maven extraordinaire Lisa Linden and former Bush administration advisor Charles Millard, celebrating the launch of Charles’ new venture specializing in pension funds and financial services, Cardinal Advisors.

3. Catherine Saxton, Richard Smullen and yours truly

4. LVMH’s David Anton

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