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Posts Tagged ‘Sol Kerzner’

Anderson Cooper, Harold Ford, Jr and Bob Guccione, Jr

1003_mockup.gifAfter a long holiday weekend left the usual Wednesday lunch crowd without their weekly power lunch fix, the town car set who could tear themselves away from their Hampton cottages returned to Michael’s today. I say we outlaw any more midweek July 4th holidays. Too confusing!

I was joined today by Bob Guccione, Jr. who I met last year when we weighed in on the ever expanding culture of celebrity for a journalism panel for Names Not Numbers. After crossing paths in this dining room several times over the past year, we decided it was time for a proper Michael’s lunch once and for all.

I wasn’t disappointed. Bob ventured in for our lunch and some other important business in town from his home in rural Pennsylvania (“I’m one postage stamp away from being the unabomber!’). A few years ago, having grown “sick of New York” he decamped to Mississippi to teach journalism and has decided country life beats living in Manhattan hands down. ”It’s so peaceful,” he says.

Bob tells a terrific tale of his fascinating career in media that started at the age of 18 in the UK when he became Britain’s youngest ever publisher. A year later, he launched Rock Superstars making him the youngest publisher in America. As the son of one of publishing’s most colorful figures, it seems his career path was predetermined but, says Bob, “I knew I loved it. I wanted to be a writer but I had no life experience.”

That changed pretty quickly. In 1985, he launched SPIN, sold it in 1997 t0 Vibe Ventures, and launched Gear in 1998. Then, in 2005 he bought Discover from Disney. He remembers the moment well. “The staff regarded  me with some trepidation. When I told them  ‘We’re in the entertainment business,’ there was an audible gasp in the room.” By the time he stepped down as chairman two years later, the magazine had returned to profitability.

Diane Clehane and Bob Guccione
Diane Clehane and Bob Guccione

Our conversation revolved around passion for the business and the elusive quest for profitability and Bob had plenty to say on both fronts. Besides being incredibly funny (sorry, but his best remarks are off the record), the tireless entrepreneur proved to be a fascinating lunch date as he shared his extremely well-reasoned take on why he believes writers will one day be able to make a living online and why magazines are far from over. ”Everything about digital media happened too fast, and people back the wrong model too quickly,” he told me. Exhibit A: The Huffington Post, which Bob says is “doomed to fail” and called it “a white elephant — it’s the default model.”

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Dan Rather, Steve Kroft and An Encore Appearance by John Legend

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I got several emails last week when I was on vacation alerting me to John Legend‘s presence in the dining room. “You’re missing him!” texted one faithful “Lunch” reader. “Oh well,” I thought, “next time.” Imagine my surprise when the singer magically appeared in the dining room today and even shot me a big smile on the way to his corner table. How thoughtful of him to schedule a return engagement on a Wednesday!

I was joined today by uber publicist Judy Twersky and her agency’s account supervisor, Jennifer Bristol, who I met in this very dining room through our mutual friend, Diane Dimond. A little birdie told me that Judy knows just about everybody and has represented a very interesting mix of famous folks so I knew lunch would be fun. I wasn’t disappointed.

Judy, who once toiled as media director for Ogilvy & Mather, started her own firm in 1992 and has had an impressive roster of clients, including Maury Povich, Dr. Andrew Weil and none other than actor James Earl Jones. (No word on how he felt being banished to the bleachers at the Oscars while Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy took to the stage). Judy, who tells me she gets most of her clients through word of mouth, specializes in authors but also handles her fair share of celebrities. Her current client list includes former CIA agent-turned-photographer Hank O’Neal, who has traveled the world chronicling street art. His new book, aptly titled XCIA’s Street Art Project (Siman Media Works), will debut in March along with a mobile app. None other than Tony Bennett praises Hank’s work as “one of the greatest contemporary works of art I have ever experienced.”

Jennifer Bristol, Diane Clehane, Judy Twersky
Jennifer Bristol, Diane Clehane and Judy Twersky

Judy also reps pianist Richard Glazier, whose PBS special, “From Ragtime to Reel Time: Richard Glazier in Concert” premieres on stations around the country next week. Judy first met Richard on a TCM cruise and was enthralled by his skills as a raconteur as he regaled the audience (who stayed up way past their bedtimes) with the stories behind the “Great American Songbook” and tales of his childhood friendship with Ira Gershwin. Richard is coming to New York next month to be feted by violinist Joshua Bell.

Speaking of great parties, Judy’s 60th birthday bash made “Page Six” recently with the news that Paul Shaffer wrote a song especially for her to mark the occasion. (Paul’s wife Cathy is Judy’s best friend, and Judy is now managing the couple’s 19-year-old daughter Victoria Shaffer who has aspirations to host her own talk show). Her good pals also arranged for The Naked Cowboy to come in and sweep her off her feet (literally). “You can book him for 15-minute sessions,” Judy told me with a laugh. “I couldn’t believe it.” Who needs birthday cake when you can be serenaded by a man in his underwear?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Dan Rather and another important looking gent we didn’t recognize

2. Peter Brown

3. 60 MinutesSteve Kroft and  journo Jackie Leo, engrossed in some important looking papers

4. John Legend (in jeans) and Warner Music Group CEO  Lyor Cohen

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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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