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Posts Tagged ‘Ron Mwangaguhunga’

Power Lunching with Eliot Spitzer, Star Jones and Joanna Coles

1003_mockup.gifIt’s the last Wednesday power lunch of the year (or the last one ever if you believe those wacky Mayans), and the usual suspects at Michael’s came bearing gifts to be traded over Cobb salads today. Some regulars (Linda Fairstein) were hosting year-end catch-ups with pals, while others (Steven Stolman) broke bread with their bosses. Of course, even if Christmas is less than a week away, there are those who mean business with lunch.

I caught up with Eliot Spitzer while he was waiting for his guest to arrive and asked him how he’s faring over at Current TV. “Nobody’s watching, but I’m having a great time,” he told me. “I don’t mean to be facetious, but I am really enjoying myself. It’s like having a cocktail party with friends every night.” Pausing for a moment he added, “Somebody needs to buy the network.” And perhaps they will, he mused, if for no other reason than to snap up Current’s distribution system.  Either way, New York’s former governor isn’t quitting his day job, so to speak. “I’m glad all my investments are in real estate, not media companies, but if someone can make money at it, great.” Indeed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Best-selling author Linda Fairstein, hosting her annual holiday lunch for her former colleagues from her days as head of the city’s sex crimes unit. “I love doing this for these women who are all tops in their field. We’ve been having this lunch every year for over a decade, and for one afternoon they are treated like queens of the world,” Linda told me as she placed artfully decorated gift bags at each place setting embellished with the words ‘Boss Lady.’ The incredible women who were taking a break from their usual daily grind of solving and prosecuting the city’s most heinous crimes: New York Supreme Court Judge Ann Donnelly, Karen Friedman-Agnifilo, trial division chief; Audrey Moore, chief the Special Victims’ Unit; cold case division head Melissa Mourges, who just this week got a conviction on the ‘Dating Game’ murder; Kerry O’Connell, chief of the trial bureau; and Martha Bashford, head of the Sex Crimes Unit. Ladies, I salute you.

2.  Peter Brown

3. ’Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and David Zinczenko (Happy Belated Birthday!)

4.  PR scion Steve Rubenstein

The holiday scene at Michael's

The holiday scene at Michael’s

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Mediabistro Course

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Donald Trump, Star Jones, Wendy Williams, Plus Dish on the New Dark Shadows Movie

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Who knew there was a pre-Easter rush? Michael’s dining room was jam packed today with moguls (Donald Trump!), fashion mavens (Rachel Roy, Fern Mallis) and talking heads (Star Jones, Wendy Williams and Joe Kernen) before the town car set jets off to Florida and other more exotic ports of call for the holiday. We arrived early so as not to miss a minute of the mixing and mingling of the power lunch scene and were glad we did. Trump made quite an entrance with his bodyguard in tow. The last time we spotted anyone with protection stationed inside the restaurant was when Elton John met with some bigwigs at Table One several years back. Life can be so complicated when you have money.

I was joined today by Kathryn Leigh Scott, who starred in one of my favorite television shows of all time, Dark Shadows. If you grew up in the 60′s, then you — or someone you knew – probably ran home after school in time to catch the iconic gothic soap opera which aired on WABC at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Kathryn played Maggie Evans and Josette DuPres who was the ill-fated lady love of Barnabas Collins, one of television’s most famous vampires memorably depicted by Jonathan Frid. She also starred opposite Jonathan in the hit MGM film House of Dark Shadows (soon to be re-released on DVD and BlueRay).

Well, everything old is new again and next month Tim Burton‘s big screen homage to the show, Dark Shadows, starring super fan Johnny Depp hits theaters May 11. Kathryn, Jonathan as well as her former castmates Lara Parker (the original Angelique) and David Selby (Quentin Collins) have cameos in the film. “Lara and I plan to walk the red carpet together at the Los Angeles premiere wearing age-appropriate gowns and have a glass of champagne. This is really something to celebrate,” said Kathryn who has high hopes for the film. “It has all the elements the show had (fantasy, horror, romance and comedy), but it’s their playground with their own spin on things.”

Kathryn Leigh Scott and Diane Clehane
Kathryn Leigh Scott and Diane Clehane

The timing of the film couldn’t be better for Kathryn’s new book, Dark Shadows Return to Collinwood which has just come out to rave reviews. Designed by Cheryl Carrington, the book contains hundreds of rare photos from the show, as well as stunning images from the new film.

Kathryn told me she is “so grateful to Warner Brothers and to Tim Burton and Johnny Depp” for their “huge trust in me.”  The movie studio released the images from the film to her before they’d finished their own trailer or movie poster and did not ask for approval over their usage. The photos of Depp in full Barnabas regalia standing alongside the original cast members is really something to see, and Kathryn’s behind the scenes account of the experience of being in Burton’s film make the book a must-have for fans both old and new.

Over 200 fans turned out last night at Barnes & Noble on 86th Street to meet Kathryn, get their books signed, and talk about the show and the upcoming film.  They also got a surprise gift of posters from the new movie provided by Warner Brothers. “It was wonderful because it was a real mix of people,” she told me. “There were young fans who were excited to learn more about the show, and there were some of the longtime fans who were children when they stood outside the stage door of the show here in New York in the 60s. The legacy of Dark Shadows lives on!”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

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Cosmo‘s Kate White Celebrates The Sixes

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You’d never know we’re on the brink of the dog days of August from the jam packed scene at Michael’s today. While I did notice there was a bit more wine than usual being poured, it was clear from all the glad handing and table hopping that there was plenty of business getting done between bites.

I was thrilled when Kate White invited me to join her for a celebratory lunch to mark the publication of her latest book, The Sixes (HarperCollins) that hit bookstores yesterday. Besides holding down her day job as Cosmo‘s editrix, Kate has managed to crank out five mysteries featuring heroine Bailey Weggins (a sixth is due next March), a handful of self-help tomes (including 9 Secrets of Women Who Get Everything They Want) and now, the second of two thrillers. Her latest novel chronicles what happens when celebrity biographer Phoebe Hall uncovers a secret society while tracking down a killer in a small college town and is already garnering rave reviews. Kate, who writes mostly on weekends, says she’s wanted to write page-turners ever since spotting a Nancy Drew mystery in her grandmother’s library at age 10. “I loved her,” she says of the iconic young detective. “I knew that whatever that was, I wanted to do that.”

Kate rounded up a pretty impressive group of gals to join in on the celebration. First to arrive was chick lit queen Jane Green who has written a dozen books (Babyville is my personal favorite) at the head spinning rate of one per year. I nearly fainted when Jane mentioned what a busy summer she’s having ferrying around her six children to their various activities. The former journalist for The Daily Express in Britain says it’s her training as a newspaper reporter facing deadlines that’s enabled her to find the discipline to write books. “Anybody can start a book; it’s another thing entirely to finish one.” Indeed.

Rounding out the group were best selling author Shelia Weller whose latest, Girls Like Us, is in development at Sony Pictures, ESPN SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm, actress Donna Hanover who most recently appeared as a real estate agent  in FX’s Louie, and Barbara Butcher, chief of staff and director of Forensic Science Training Program at the Office of The Chief Medical Examiner in Manhattan. While there was plenty of talk about books and writing, the group was completely transfixed by Barbara’s fascinating career as an investigator examining the dead at over 5,000 crime scenes . “I got a dissecting kit when I was 10 and my last name is ‘Butcher’ so this was kind of preordained,” Barbara quipped. Besides tackling the important tasks of identifying victims of 9/11 and the 2004 tsunami, Barbara has put her expertise to work consulting on shows like Law & Order and helping authors like Kate and Patricia Cornwall accurately depict their fictional crimes.  Spending a few hours with this crew has made me swear off procrastinating on that next book waiting to be written — or at least try to give up sleeping.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Kate White, Jane Green, Shelia Weller, Hannah Storm, Donna Hanover, Barbara Butcher and yours truly.

2.  My good pal, investigative journo Diane Dimond who tirelessly chronicled Casey Anthony’s trial for The Daily Beast with Judy Twersky (Nice to finally meet you!) and another gal pal I didn’t get to meet.

3. Terry Allen Kramer

4.  Christine Taylor with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn

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Another Magazine Death: Vibe Reportedly Closing

vibe.pngJeff Bercovici at AOL’s DailyFinance is reporting that music magazine Vibe is ceasing publication.

Just last month, the magazine’s parent company, Vibe Media Group, announced the launch of spin-off The Most!, a “celebrity fashion, lifestyle, red-carpet moments, travel, and news” publication that was due to hit newsstands earlier this month. There’s no word on whether Vibe‘s shut down will affect that publication as well.

Publicists at the magazine were unavailable for comment, but we’ll keep you updated as the story progresses. If you have any information, leave it in the comments below or email us.

Vibe‘s closure leaves The Source as the one remaining one of the few remaining magazines covering hip hop and R&B, after Blender folded earlier this year. (A commenter kindly pointed out that Giant and XXL still cover the industry, and there might be others that we don’t know about.)

Update: The New York Times has word from Vibe‘s publicist that the magazine will close down operations today, although there is no word on how many people will be losing their jobs. And here is part of an internal memo sent by Vibe Media Group CEO Steve Aaron to staffers today: “It is with a heavy heart that I share some tough news, VMG is closing down effective today, June 30 due to lack of additional financial investments.” So, it looks like Vibe won’t be the only publication to go. If the whole media group is closing up shop, it looks like The Most! is dead, too.

Lastly, Ron Mwangaguhunga spoke to Vibe editor at large Rob Kenner for his blog The Corsair. Kenner revealed that the magazine had been working on a Michael Jackson tribute prior to its demise. How much more depressing can it get? The magazine’s own death prevented it from celebrating the death of the legend who was so influential to the music that Vibe covered.

Lunch: Dishing With Dolly Parton

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Sure, it’s fun checking in with the media mavens and moguls during our weekly Wednesday outings at Michael’s, but sometimes it’s the random celebrity sighting that can be the most entertaining. When I heard that Dolly Parton was coming today, I was really looking forward to chatting with her. I first sat down with her and Jane Fonda way back when there was some big anniversary for her breakthrough film, 9 to 5. Of all the celebrities I’ve interviewed over the years, Dolly was by far one of the least pretentious. The hair, the outrageous outfits, the nails — the boobs — it’s all part of a perfectly calibrated persona that is as compelling today as it was back then.

When she arrived in the dining room, every head turned. Trust me, she’s like no one you’ve ever seen. At 63, she looked like a living doll with her expertly made-up ageless face, Barbie doll suit (paired with sheer black leggings), that famous platinum mane, and shoes that no other human being could possibly walk in. When I stopped her to chat, she gave me a big smile and grabbed my hand. “Of course I remember you!” she drawled when I explained when we last spoke. I almost believed her — she’s that genuine. When I asked her how things were going with 9 to 5 set to debut on Broadway next week (she wrote 40 songs for the show; 16 made it into the production), she said, “We’re working like crazy just tweaking little things until we get it right. We’re working ’til midnight. I’m really enjoying myself!” Then she sailed in to meet her producer Bob Greenblatt (Showtime’s president), Matt Blank and the rest of her table.

I was dining today with my good pal Kathryn Leigh Scott, who is one of the most prolific women I know. She’s written so many books I’ve lost count (and is currently working on two — one fiction and one nonfiction). But her really big news involves the article she’s penned on “the star and the stalker” for Opera News, due out in August. Kathryn has left no stone unturned in the account of the downside of divadom, which chronicles the complicated and chilling relationship between legendary opera star Birgit Nilsson and her stalker, model Nell Theobald. Kathryn uncovers some startling details in her report, which has attracted the attention of some Hollywood bigwigs: “There’s some interest in the dramatic rights,” Kathryn tells me. Like they say in Tinseltown, stay tuned…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Dolly Parton, Showtime’s Matt Blank and Bob Greenblatt and Lee Resnick. There was also an imposing looking fellow at the table who, from the looks of things, keeps things running smoothly for Dolly. I’m guessing you wouldn’t want to mess with him…

2. The first lady of New York, Michelle Paterson, and Jackie Rogers. For the moment, at least, it seems as if her husband’s dismal poll numbers weren’t top of mind: We spotted Michelle yukking it up as she enjoyed some white wine with her friend.

3. Dan Abrams and CNBC’s Brian Steel (Glad to hear you’re a ‘Lunch’ loyalist!)

4. Expectant father Les Moonves (congrats!) and Viacom’s Philippe Dauman. When Michael McCarty offered the television titan a hearty greeting of “Dad!” Les looked a little sheepish and uttered, “I’m an old man.” What’s that old saying about kids keeping you young? Please extend our congratulations to the missus, Julie Chen.

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mediabistro.com Ruined My Sex Life*

dylan.jpgIt’s been roughly a year and a half since I first dropped into FishbowlNY. Today is my last day as a managing editor of mediabistro.com and, too, this media blog. Two talented bloggers, Ron “The Corsair” Mwangaguhunga and Neal Ungerleider of Gawker Media’s Gridskipper fame, are taking over here at Fishbowl; Chris Ariens, a.k.a the new TVNewser, is assuming managing editor duties. Here’s my note to the staff, which applies to, well, everyone:

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Is Bill Moyers Unbalanced?

moyers_072307.jpgBill Moyers has been the subject of conversation in media circles for a few weeks now. He elegantly eulogized Lady Bird Johnson last week. Before that, he savaged Rupert Murdoch on the possibility of his ownership of the Wall Street Journal. Now, Murdoch — an old hand to charges of bias — is being blasted by the PBS ombudsman online for his Impeachment program, where he failed to provide a counterbalance for calls to oust President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. “There was almost a complete absence of balance,” is how the ombudsman put it. The show featured John Nichols, author of Dick: The Man Who Is President, and Bruce Fein, also no friend of the President.

Granted, a meditation into whether or not PBS’ “lightening rod/icon” Bill Moyers of Bill Moyers Journal is biased is real navel-gazing 3AM-in-the-morning-on-C-SPAN stuff. Still, when PBS ombudsman Michael Getler takes the time to craft an online rebuke, it made us think about Moyer’s Friday the 13th Impeachment show. Might Bill Moyers, former personal assistant to LBJ, divinity student, have trouble with balance on his show? Getler writes, “My views on Moyers and his programs are mixed, and perhaps not very helpful or satisfying to viewers who are hard over one way or the other about Moyers and his programs.”

While the American conservative movement has always regarded Moyers as a bete noir, no one would accuse the PBS ombudsman of any such agendas.

— Ron Mwangaguhunga

  • The Ombudsman’s Mailbag [PBS]
  • Spoiling The Harry Potter Spoilers

    Kyle Good, a Scholastic spokesperson, has the unenviable task of returning a genie to its bottle. That genie would be the Harry Potter spoilers. Good told FishbowlNY via email: “The Harry Potter fans do not want to find spoilers online and overwhelmingly say they won’t look (A CNN poll found that 95 percent say ‘No, I won’t look.’)”

    As launch night swiftly approaches for the seventh and final installment of the Harry Potter series, Scholastic has accused Deepdiscount.com of the early shipping of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In addition, leaks of pictures contained in the book have found their way onto the internet. Further, eBay is selling the book online a day before the official launch. And reviewers — like Michiko Kakutani in today’s Times — reveal spoilers, and have drawn the ire of J.K. Rowling, but to no avail.

    (Scholastic issued a press release yesterday urging fans who got their hands on the book early “to keep the packages hidden until midnight on July 21st.”)

    When asked if Scholastic should appeal to parents, on the off-chance that the kids might fall prey to online temptation, Good responded: “The parents already know. They are avoiding the uploads and so are the kids … it will all boil down to 12:01 AM on July 21 and everyone will get that big book and love it!”

    — Ron Mwangaguhunga

    EARLIER:

  • Judith Miller On The Harry Potter Leak
  • Harry Potter Leaked!
  • Harry Potter Nerds Get New Cover To Argue Over
  • Lorne Michaels: SNL Not Yet Ready For Prime Time Reality TV

    Late season two comedies loosely based on Saturday Night Live made it onto the network line-up, so it’s not too far-fetched that NBC might be interested in enlarging the franchise. And who better to front such an effort than SNL executive producer. Lorne Michaels has confirmed to the Edmonton Sun that “serious discussions have occurred at NBC with regard to turning SNL dress rehearsal into a reality show, with skits vying to get on the real show later that night.”

    Michaels, thus far, has resisted the temptation of reality TV, saying, “Donald Trump is perfect at being Donald Trump, you know … but for me to be in that role. I wouldn’t have been comfortable doing it.”

    NBC declined FishbowlNY’s request for further elaboration.

    — Ron Mwangaguhunga