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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Millington’

Lunch: Special Evening Edition as Michael’s Celebrates 20 Years

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— DIANE CLEHANE

As much as we enjoy observing the social customs of the various media tribes during our Wednesday lunches at Michael’s, we jumped at the chance to mingle with the natives last night as they roamed free from the pecking order in the dining room. Michael McCarty threw himself quite a blowout to celebrate 20 years at 55th & Fifth, and a few hundred of his closest friends came out to mark the occasion.

By the time I arrived a little after six there was a line out the door where I crossed paths with my good pals — and Michael’s stalwarts — Lisa Linden and Nielsen’s Gerry Byrne. “I thought I’d get here early and beat the crowd,” Lisa told me. Nothing doing as we inched our way into the packed dining room. A camera crew from LX New York was there as the man of the hour personally greeted each guest at the door with a slap on the back (for the guys) and air kisses (for the gals). Michael’s wife, the talented artist Kim McCarty, whose artwork adorns the restaurant’s walls, beamed with pride. Just another fabulous night out in New York …

Here’s a rundown of the ‘cool kids’ who finished their homework in time to make it out Wednesday night.

Glamour editrix Cindi Leive (loved the leopard!) was chatting with attorney Lorie Almon (“She knows everybody!”) about next Monday night’s Women of the Year awards. Thanks for the invite; we can’t wait. When I asked Cindi what keeps her coming back to Michael’s she told me, “I like the food; I don’t even have to look at the menu. And I get to see people in my world, so I can check off that box. I’m a creature of habit.” Makes sense to us.

The fabulous fashionista, Fern Mallis sailed by, and I just had to ask her whether she’d heard if there was going to be another season of her reality show, The Fashion Show with Isaac Mizrahi. No word yet from Bravo, says Fern. Stay tuned.

I stopped by the bar to say hello to HarperCollins’ David Hirshey and my old friend Michael Solomon, and we got into a lively discussion about our mutual obsession with Mad Men. The show’s season finale airs Sunday, and we’re all on the edge of our seats wondering if desperate housewife Betty will leave her unraveling husband Don Draper for that irksome Henry Francis. We decided that if it were up to us the couple would stay together unhappily ever after, but chances are series creator Matt Weiner has something else in store. Michael, who I got to know when we were both working for TV Guide, now toils for The Daily Beast as features director. After some catching up, we had a nice OTR chat about the good old days when people could still make a living as print journalists.

When I bumped into Investigation Discovery honcho Henry Schleiff, I offered my congratulations on his network’s new show, On the Case with Paula Zahn, which is garnering some good reviews. Kudos!

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It’s Spin City for Moguls & Machers at Michael’s

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The flacks were certainly out in full force today at Michael’s. It seemed anyone who was (or represents) anyone was out and about with something to spin. Well, at least it’s a sign that life goes on in Manhattan no matter how bleak New York magazine says our financial future is. Although a pesky stomach bug kept me away last week, we hear things were really hopping with Michael Douglas holding court on Table One. (He’s in town filming the sequel to Wall Street, in case you haven’t heard.) Seems the Oscar-winning actor enjoyed several bottles of wine with a table full of ‘masters of the universe’ — no doubt asking these insiders how his character, Gordon Gekko, would handle the new world order in the financial district.

I was lunching today with a real media powerhouse, Debbie Phillips, who has turned her career as a work-life coach into a bonafide cottage industry. In 2003, Debbie founded “Women on Fire,” an organization whose mission she describes as “helping women achieve their dreams and desires.” (She hates the outdated term ‘networking’.) Having been a journalist, politico, and television producer for decades, Debbie brings plenty to the table. Among her many accomplishments: She was the first female press secretary in Ohio government, having worked for Governor Dick Celeste in the ’80s. When Debbie “stepped out of the swirl,” she somehow found herself coaching clients on life and career strategies before the now burgeoning industry even had a name. Although most of her clients by the mid-’90s were men, she saw her business take off in 2000 after deciding to focus on the needs of women. These days, the company’s multi-media platform encompasses books, CDs and DVDs as well as biannual seminars, which she calls “tea parties,”in New York. She also holds events in Ohio, Michigan, and Boston. These members-only gatherings, says Debbie, are designed to get women of different backgrounds talking about their accomplishments and goals in a “judgment-free zone” and serve as a much needed dose of empowerment to get things going. Sounds like a great idea to us.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. My pal Stu Zakim, who recently left his perch as Showtime’s spinmeister, presiding over a “boy’s lunch” with ABC News’ Jeffrey Schneider, Tony Fox of Comedy Central, Patrick Reilly of Sirius Radio, publicist Peter Himler, Jeff Bercovici who is writing for AOL verticals these days, flack Matthew Hiltzik, and Matt Frankel, formerly of AOL. Stu told me the guys had gathered to “celebrate” Arnie Huberman who passed away earlier this summer.

2. Steve Rubenstein

3. Publicity maven Maury Rogoff, Oprah.com writer Jill Brooke , and Fox 5′s Rosanna Scotto.

4. Richard Rubenstein

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Lunch: Kerry Kennedy, Monica Crowley & Barbara Walters

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Maybe it was the gorgeous pre-Memorial Day weather, but the mood in the dining room at Michael’s today was noticeably upbeat. The usual suspects were out in force, and it seems everyone has caught a whiff of the optimism in the air. A welcome change, to say the least.

I was lunching today with Linda Gaunt, who I first met during her days as EVP of communications for Giorgio Armani: She was nice enough to provide me with an original sketch of a dress Mr. Armani had designed for Princess Diana that she never got to wear. I used it in the forward of my book, Diana: The Secrets of Her Style, and it is one of my favorite images from its pages. Since launching her own firm on Madison Avenue five years ago, Linda Gaunt Communications, Linda has amassed an impressive roster of clients, including Donna Karan’s Urban Zen, Versace, and The Whitney — and she just signed Hanro and Chantelle. Her results-oriented approach to PR has done wonders for her luxury fashion and lifestyle clients. Rather than sit back and wait for what happens next, says Linda, it is a critical time for companies to get smart about public relations and go after market share with “a targeted approach that really understands what the consumer wants and give them a reason to buy.” Sounds like good advice to us…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Leslee Dart, Vanity Fair scribe Leslie Bennetts and Mary Alice Williams

2. The always dashing Henry Schleiff and Kerry Kennedy, who told me she is so excited about the online auction that’s going on now through May 28 for The RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights. Kerry has assembled a stellar list of lots for bidding, including a meet-and-greet with Oprah Winfrey and a day during Fashion Week with Vogue‘s man about town Andre Leon Talley. The money raised goes to aid the work being done on behalf of those in need in many areas including the Gulf Coast and in Darfur.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, George Farias and Fox News’ Monica Crowley (loved the necklace!) Seems the Mayor felt like he needed some fortification since he was lunching with two staunch Republicans, so he brought along an Obama bobblehead doll (which was a dead ringer for the president, by the way) and placed him squarely on the table for support. It definitely got our attention! I was glad I stopped by to say hello to the talkative trio who was dining early because Monica had to be back at the studio and on air this afternoon. Did you know that she is a team member of the Council on Foreign Relations? Now you do … George, who is always such a gentleman, had some good dish to share: He told me Nancy Reagan will be making a rare appearance at the Capitol on June 3 for the unveiling of a statue of President Reagan. Mark your calendars!

4. Barbara Walters (all in red!) and ABC Daytime head Brian Frons dishing about one ‘hot topic’ or another, I’m sure…

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Lunch: Barry Diller (on a Vespa!), Harvey Weinstein & Judge Judy

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Maybe it was because it finally stopped raining for five minutes, but the power-lunchers were out in force today at Michael’s. There was a crowd gathering in the lounge before noon waiting for tables. Of course, most of the regulars breezed in at their appointed hours, making sure they had plenty of time for glad-handing before settling in for some serious dish. Harvey Weinstein and Barry Diller did their fair share of hand shaking before getting down to business at separate tables.

I was lunching today with public relations powerhouse Lisa Linden and Tom O’Brien, president and general manager of WNBC. Tom had plenty to talk about, since these days it seems you can’t go anywhere without an NBC star beaming out from a TV set in a growing number of spots. Look for that to continue, says Tom. With the newscasts on WNBC-TV, the fledgling lifestyle channel New York Nonstop (now in 5 million homes), NBCNewYork.com and Taxi TV (in 5,500 cabs and growing), “We have the ability to get our content out across multiple platforms and reach people at any time of the day,” says Tom. Now the network has gone underground with their latest digital out-of-home effort, NBC in Transit, with video of news and NBC Universal entertainment programming broadcast on PATH trains between NYC and New Jersey. “We’re excited about this new way to reach an audience who isn’t waiting for news. It’s another great way for keeping people informed.” Coming soon: more televisions on the platform in Newark. Stay tuned…

I told Tom I have a particular soft spot for those adorable spots with Jimmy Fallon and that cuddly bear cub that seem to be playing in every taxi I’m in. “He’s doing very well,” reports Tom, who says Conan O’Brien‘s new show is set to debut June 1 and there will be an announcement about Jay Leno‘s new primetime show in two weeks. We’re all ears…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman

2. My new pal Susan Silver, Abby Ellin of The New York Times and Judy Twersky

3. Andrew Stein and a mystery gent…

4. Barry Diller and an unidentified young fellow. Here’s a fun fact: Barry is a mogul on the move. I happened to catch him suiting up for a quick getaway after lunch as he slipped into a windbreaker and donned a helmet and sunglasses before revving up his Vespa and disappearing into midtown traffic.

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Lunch: Special Post-Inauguration Edition

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The mood was festive at Michael’s today, with plenty of Obama buttons on display and lots of talk about the president’s stirring inaugural address. Jack Kliger told me, “I thought the whole thing was inspiring. His speech was terrific.” Jack had a good laugh about Barack Obama‘s heartfelt thanks to George W. Bush for his “years of service,” only to then turn around and basically rip the departing administration to shreds — in the nicest possible way. A speech for the ages, indeed.

While everyone agreed the president was near perfection in every possible way, the verdict was somewhat mixed on the First Lady’s fashion sense. A few media mavens told me they were less than thrilled with Michelle Obama‘s Isabel Toledo dress and coat (“A little dowdy,” sniped one stylista), but gave her higher marks for her Jason Wu ivory gown. I admit, I didn’t love the “lemongrass” lace daytime look at first, but by day’s end it had grown on me. I will say that Sasha and Malia looked darling in their custom J.Crew Crewcuts coats. When my good pal Fern Mallis, looking sleek and chic in her Tracy Reese Obama shirt, stopped at the bar for a chat, I asked her what she thought about Michelle’s fashion choices for the big day. “I’d give her a 10,” said Fern. “I could not think of a better ambassador for the fashion industry right now. She looked great.”

Today I was lunching with Lisa Silhanek and Justin Brown, CEO of First Global Xpress. Lisa, who knows everyone in the fashion biz, is working with Justin as his relationship manager, helping to broaden the business within the industry. Justin, whose clients include HBO, ICM and Conde Nast, has built an impressive business (that will be profiled in next month’s Business Week and the March issue of Inc.) by catering to companies that care about reducing their carbon footprint with smart shipping that lops off miles using direct flights. And, perhaps just as important, Justin says: “We deal with divas very well.” He’s shipped everything from a helicopter (New York to Eastern Europe) to Marilyn Monroe’s velvet headboard bought at auction by an adoring fan, so chances are he can handle whatever daunting task Seventh Avenue can serve up.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Imber Gang: Dr. Gerry Imber, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman and Jerry Della Femina. I asked Jerry about the awful news about the demise of Full Frontal Fashion. His wife, the tireless Judy Licht, made the show a must-see for fashionistas and civilians alike with its wall-to-wall coverage of Fashion Week. (Truth be told, I’ve skipped a show or two knowing that I could watch the whole shebang from my living room without having to battle the crowds). “It’s true,” reports Jerry. “But Judy has a lot of things going and will be covering Fashion Week for The Huffington Post.” You heard it here first, folks. Smart move, Arianna.

2. Peggy Siegal dining with a mystery gal. Clever Peggy ordered her lunch in advance so as not to waste a minute.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and uber-agent Ed Victor

4. Jack Kliger, Tom Donahue and a gent named Nick, so we’re told.

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Lunch At Michael’s: The Dog Days Are Here!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The morning monsoon that shut down the city for several hours kept all but the true diehards away today at 55th & Fifth. Even general manager Steve Millington was kept from his post due to a weather-related nanny nightmare (we can relate). Others, like our pal Jaqui Lividini, arrived breathless due to today’s stifling heat and annoying lack of cabs. The fashion maven recovered her cool before being joined by Teen Vogue‘s Amy Astley, a newly minted member of the International Best Dressed List. (Check out the full list of fab fashionistas — including Posh & Becks and the always dreamy George Clooney in Vanity Fair‘s gigantic September issue). Memo to Mike Bloomberg: Why don’t you stop waging your will-he-or-won’t he run for president, declare August a citywide holiday and put us all out of our misery?’

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Four suits — one, we’re told was a Fox News bigwig (obviously someone else was charged with bailing out the drenched mothership) — tucking into cobb salads.

2. The soul of Manolo Blahnik, George Malkemus — looking dapper in a blue blazer — dining with two guests.

3. Jack Myers and two jacketed gents.

4. Portfolio’s David Carey

5. Bill Siegal(Herb’s son).

6. Allen & Co.’s John Josephson with a table full of young turks and one mystery gal.

7. The man himself, Michael McCarty, dishing with John Hilton. We’re assuming he’s part of that Hilton clan. I wanted to ask how Paris was doing since being sprung from the slammer but I just couldn’t bring myself to utter her name in public …

8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia and Rita Jamais, the former owner of La Caravelle.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Forget Michael Caine — It’s Star Jones!

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgImagine our disappointment when we heard that had we chosen to come by on Monday, we’d have been sipping Bloody Marys at the bar with Claire Danes and Natasha Richardson. Luckily, there were enough faces in today’s crowd from filmdom, fashion and, of course, publishing to satisfy our appetite for observing bold face names in action.

While we were intrigued to spot Michael Caine and Vernon Jordan at opposite ends of the dining room, we were most interested to catch up with Star Jones who slipped in after most of the crowd had begun tucking into their Cobb salads. The svelte and smiling Star told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane that she’s thrilled about her yet to be titled Court TV show set to debut on August 20th. “They’re calling it The Star Jones Project for now,” she said over her lunch of soft-shelled crab. “I think they want to announce the name at TCA.” Was it really just a little under a year ago that Star’s tumultuous departure from The View was Barbara Walters‘ biggest problem? No matter. That’s all ancient history now anyway, says this fall’s comeback kid who plans to spend her summer vacation jetting between Europe and the Hamptons: “This is a joyous time in my life.” See, there really are happy endings.

Here’s a rundown of the crowd:

Table 1. Howard Rubenstein and Betsy Perry presiding over a table full of gents in suits and grand dames in pearls.

2. Star Jones and her friend David (whose last name we didn’t quite catch).

3. Jonathan Tisch, Wayne Tabach and a bespectacled gentleman we didn’t recognize …

4. Two-time Oscar winner Michael Caine (That’s Sir Michael to you) and, we’re told, Bobby Zarem‘s brother (?). Quick: For which films did this tireless thespian nab his little gold men? Answer: Cider House Rules in 1999 and Hannah And Her Sisters in 1986. According to Michael (McCarty, who owns the joint), Caine and his wife have dined here “hundreds of times” (we’ve just never seen them on our weekly Wednesday visits) and “usually prefer the Garden Room.” So take that all you wannabes — it’s not Siberia, it’s chic!

5. Peter Brown and guest.

6. Terry Allen Kramer, who passed the time waiting for fellow diners Margo McNabb and Claire Mercuri by checking her cell phone.

7. Dave Zinczenko with The Waverly Inn’s chef John DeLucie. The Men’s Health honcho, who has become something of a cheerleader for Graydon Carter‘s downtown hotspot, introduced John to Michael and general manager Steve Millington. The culinary confab kicked off a nonstop food fest that left DeLucie and Zinczenko begging for mercy. After sampling everything from salmon carpaccio to foie gras to duck, the duo joked that today’s meal was a marked departure from The Abs Diet. “It’s more like the three hour workout meal,” said Dave.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Kate White & Her Lethal Blondes

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgAfter the last few relatively uneventful Wednesdays, we were thrilled to see the dining buzzing with excitement when we arrived this afternoon. Our favorite Cosmo gal Kate White was celebrating the publication of her latest book, Lethally Blonde, with a ladies lunch at Table One comprised of an intriguing mix of flaxen-haired gals. The festivities spilled out into the main dining room causing quite the hubbub until Steve Millington corralled the crowd and the gals settled down to tuck into their salads. White’s power peroxide set: Kim Cattrall (who was overheard telling a reporter she “hasn’t heard anything new” about a possible Sex And The City movie), Hilary (Mrs. Bryant) Gumbel, Cecile Richards (president of Planned Parenthood and daughter of the late Texas governor, Ann), Linda Fairstein, Sarah Greenberg of Lionsgate Films and Joan Carl, president of D. Porthault (which would explain the lovely little packages at each place setting).

The View‘s Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who looked glowing in her 15th week of pregnancy (“It’s the self-tanner”) told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane that she was there because she was “in awe” of Ms. White, adding, “Cosmo and The View have a lot in common. They both cover all the things women really care about. Both have also been subject to others trying to duplicate their successful formulas but they’re both true originals!” Fresh off yet another dust-up on this morning’s show with Rosie O’Donnell, Hasselbeck professed to know nothing about plans to replace her departing co-host. “I never know anything.” But, she admitted, “I’m sure there’s some master plan.” When asked to characterize her contentious relationship with O’Donnell, Hasselbeck gamely replied: “We’re friends. We’re in different places philosophically. When you feel deeply about issues, things get heated. Some times I wish I didn’t care as much as I do.”

Also in attendance: Lesley Stahl (who slipped in after things had settled down) and the one true head-scratcher of the group: Carolyn Kepcher, who, you might recall, served as Donald Trump‘s hatchet woman on The Apprentice until he banished her from the boardroom. We’re guessing Ms. Kepcher enjoyed the news that the once popular reality show was left off NBC’s new fall schedule.

Here’s the rundown on the rest of today’s crowd:

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Lunch at Michael’s: Al Roker, Katie Joel and A Special Birthday Celebration

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgNo doubt by attending the Michael’s Media Jamboree on a Thursday — due to flu and flood, a day later than mediabistro.com’s customary weekly report on the media bigwigs who lunch — things were bound to be a little off-kilter. But as the slightly-less-than-packed crowd prepared for their cookie plates and cappuccinos, manager Steve Millington rushed over to Table One and began to … sing?! For the record, your humble correspondent (that would be GalleyCat‘s Sarah Weinman, filling in for the usual suspects) thought his rendition of “Happy Birthday” passed muster, but our bar companions stared agog at the proceedings. “Steve singing? It’s time to go!” But before that happened, Millington got a fierce bear hug from NBC weatherman extraordinaire Al Roker, trailed by a very purple, very pregnant Vanessa Haydon Trump. And if there are more questions marks and misspellings than usual, it reflects your correspondent’s woeful ability to correlate faces and names.

Here’s the rundown:

1. The birthday group, including Brooke Duchin, Tom Fallon, Bill Rondina, Giovanni LoFaro, and Alex H, all there to fete Alex “The Weasel” Hitz (who seemed to like his nickname enough when Millington used it in the birthday song).

2. Patrick Murphy and Joan Jakobson.

3. Pat Altschul, Katie Lee Joel (consistently animated with laughter) and other unidentified guests.

4. Barry Diller in full media mogul mode with an unidentified blond gentleman.

5. “Some actress,” which isn’t terribly helpful, I know.

6. Steve Mosko, president of Sony Pictures Television and friends.

7. Manolo Blahnik’s George Malkemus with Instyle.com editor Candy Pratts Price.

8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia at his customary table, with PR exec Debra Davis and her new client Vincent Licari who had his first Fashion Week show the day before.

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