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Posts Tagged ‘Steven Blacker’

Lunch: ‘Bag Lady’ & Madoff Victim Alexandra Penney: ‘Writing Well is the Best Revenge!’

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Things must be looking up in the journalism biz, because Michael’s dining room was jam packed with media folks of every stripe. While CEOs and spinmeisters held court from their usual perches, writers and editors were shoehorned in all over the place. I was glad I got there early because I bumped into former Self editor-in-chief Alexandra Penney, who I had not talked to since she authored the much buzzed about book, How to Make Love to a Man. “That was another life ago,” said Alexandra. I’ll say. Last fall, I was riveted by her posts on The Daily Beast where she chronicled the emotional and financial devastation that almost consumed her when she lost everything thanks to Bernie Madoff‘s ponzi scheme.

Alexandra bravely wrote about her experiences for Tina Brown‘s site under posts dubbed ‘The Bag Lady Papers,” because, she says simply, “I needed money.” When agent Ed Victor read her deeply personal revelations he told her, “I think you might have a book here.” And indeed she did. The Bag Lady Papers is due out February 16 from Hyperion’s Voice imprint. “When something like this happens, it either galvanizes you or devastates you. I chose to be galvanized because I had to. It’s amazing what you can do when you really need to.”

I was joined today by another enterprising woman, my good friend Dr. Robi Ludwig. In addition to her thriving private practice as a psychotherapist, Robi is a frequent contributor to the Today show where she weighs in on modern relationships and the celebrity crack-up of the moment. She’s logged plenty of airtime trying to get inside Tiger Woods‘ marital meltdown, and she and Redbook‘s editor-in-chief Stacy Morrison dished with Al Roker just yesterday on what couples are fighting about most these days (If you guessed money, you’re right). When Robi is not seeing patients or lending her expert opinion on matters of the heart, she keeps busy with her “inspirational” jewelry line for QVC, Dr. Robi. After her first book, Till Death Do Us Part: Inside the Mind of A Killer Spouse (Atria), kept her busy on the talk show circuit, she is now hard at work on her second which will offer tips on how to have a happier marriage during these stressful times. Earlier this month, she also signed on as a contributor to care.com, an online community and comprehensive source for people searching for caregivers of all kinds from babysitters to eldercare workers. “I’ve always loved the idea of not pigeonholing myself,” says Robi. “There’s no reason to do just one thing if you’re passionate about a lot different things.” Obviously.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

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

2. A casually clad Paul Wilmot (loved the sweater!) and Omnicom’s CEO Tom Harrison

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Norris Mailer

4. Former William Morris chairman Jim Wiatt and Quadrangle Group’s Josh Steiner

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Lunch at Michael’s: A Kareem Dream

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgIt’s official — the holidays are over! It’s back to business, people! Now that the weather has finally turned cold (it is January, after all), things are heating up once again at Michael’s. The dining room was abuzz with the usual mix of movers and shakers, moguls and random celebrities (we understand Hugh Grant had a reservation but was stuck at the airport, darn it!) — and plenty of power suits. Even the most jaded regular craned their neck to catch a glimpse of basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when he arrived shortly after 1:00. While we’re still awaiting the return of some of our favorite friends, there were plenty of boldface names to more than keep us interested.

Here’s the rundown on who was dining and dishing today:

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and a group of unidentified handlers and executives. The NBA hall-of-famer cut a towering figure (he’s 7’2″ after all) as he made his way to his table stopping to shake Al Roker‘s hand en route. Sporting a Tonight Show bomber jacket and penny loafers, he arrived with a copy of his new book, On The Shoulders of Giants, due out at the end of this month from Simon & Schuster, tucked under his arm. The retired L.A. Laker, who has the reputation of being something of a gentle and generous giant himself, writes movingly of Harlem’s renaissance in the upcoming tome. Sounds interesting …

2. Gerry Byrne and guests.

3. MTV’s John Sykes, a hip looking dark-haired beauty and an unidentified gentleman.

4. Norman Pearlstine, and we’re told, Fairchild’s Ed Nardozza.

5. Stanley Jaffe.

6. Today‘s Al Roker, his producer Jackie Olensky and our good pal Today show flack Lauren Kapp. The glowing new mom of two-month-old Oliver Darcy Wraps managed to tear herself away from her bouncing baby boy for the afternoon to catch up with her pals. She showed Diane Clehane, today’s lunchtime chronicler, lots of adorable pics of her bundle of joy. (We’re so impressed you’re out and about already!) Lauren, still on maternity leave, is back at her Today perch on March 1.

7. Vogue‘s Andre Leon Talley and Manolo Blahnik’s main man, George Malkemus. ALT caused quite a stir yesterday at 55th & Fifth when he arrived with newly-minted superstar (and sure to be Oscar-nominated) Jennifer Hudson. We guessing Ms. Hudson is in line to get the full Vogue treatment in an upcoming issue now that she’s arrived on the A list due to her shattering performance in Dreamgirls. We’re also thinking that Andre will step in and style the plus-size glamour gal for the red carpet as he did for Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda) at last year’s Oscars.

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