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Posts Tagged ‘Steven Rubenstein’

Ed Rollins, Norah O’Donnell and New England’s Next Late Night Star

LunchAtMichaelsThe mood was downright festive at Michael’s today as the usual suspects celebrated various milestones between bites of their Cobb salads. On Table One, Politico Ed Rollins and his wife, Shari Rollins, toasted Ed’s good health and the close-knit circle of good friends who stuck by the couple’s side during Ed’s heath issues last year. Nearby, best-selling author Linda Fairstein donned a bridal veil (albeit briefly) to celebrate her nuptials with several girlfriends, including Lynn Scherr and Faye Wattleton. Across the room, The Wall Street Journal‘s David Sanford helped hubby Lewis Stein celebrate his 70th, while Michael’s GM Steve Millington serenaded the birthday boy. It was almost too much fun for one lunch.

Diane Clehane and Bianca de la Garza

Diane Clehane and Bianca de la Garza

I was dining today with Bianca de la Garza, who was celebrating a milestone of her own. (Thank you to Steven Stolman, who after lunching with Bianca at Michael’s, decided the two of us should meet and made an introduction.) After 17 years in television news, the last seven spent as co-host of New England’s top-rated newscast, The Eye Opener, at WCVB-TV and anchor of the midday news for the Hearst-owned ABC affiliate in Boston, Bianca signed off in May to start her own production company, Lucky Gal. Now Bianca is about to launch her own lifestyle show that highlights the latest trends in everything from travel to fashion “for New England and beyond.” In her first interview about her latest venture, Bianca gave me exclusive details about the program, which will air in a “late-night weekend spot” on WCVB and will be taped in front of a live studio audience. “It’s not a talk show,” Bianca told me. “It’s more of an entertainment-variety show.” A press conference at The Four Seasons in Boston is scheduled later this fall to reveal more details.

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Travel Writing

Travel WritingStarting September 23, learn how to turn your travel stories into published essays and articles! Taught by a former Vanity Fair staff writer, James Sturz will teach you how to report, interview, and find sources, discover story ideas and pitch them successfully, and understand what travel editors look for in a story. Register now! 

The Media Mob Featuring Bob Barnett and Jack Kliger | Disney’s Fabulous New Foodie

Lunch At MichaelsIf you were to find the appropriate food metaphor for a Wednesdays at Michael’s I’d say it’s a tasty stew served hot with a number of surprise ingredients that can spice things up at a moment’s notice. That’s precisely what happened today when I was joined by passionate foodie and patron saint of farmers everywhere Tessa Edick, founder of FarmOn!, a 501 (c)3 organization, which she launched in 2011 and which was recently featured on Forbes.com. She describes FarmOn! as ”a social responsibility that supports the local food system and funds educational opportunities in agricultural for students pursuing farm-related careers.” In short, Tessa’s mission through FarmOn! is to get the world — or at least all of New York — starting with the Hudson Valley — to recognize the important role farmers (who she calls “starmers” — get it?). My pal, the tireless and terrific Judy Twersky brought us together along with Beyond PR Group’s partner Beth Feldman today and believe me, I learned more about where the food we eat comes from than I could ever hope to tell you in the time allotted to write this column. My head was spinning like never before by the time we said our goodbyes. Trust me, I’ll never buy a container of hard-boiled eggs while driving on the New Jersey Turnpike again.

Tessa Edick and Diane Clehane

Tessa Edick and Diane Clehane

Dynamic Tessa is a one-woman empire who has an exciting new deal with Disney (more on that later), has a new book out in September (ditto) and is sure to be a name you’ll know, if you don’t already, very soon. Born and raised in upstate New York, Tessa told me she was born with a passion for food that was nurtured by her Italian-born mother (her great grandparents owned a dairy farm). Despite growing up in an economically depressed area, she and her siblings were “happy and healthy” due in large part, she says, to the way they ate food purchased from local farmers. But, she explained, as she grew older she wanted a life away from the country and went off in search of ”glamour and success” in the big city. At 27, she returned to her roots and started her own food company, Sauces n’ Love with her ex-husband (she sold the company to him in 2010). Just as Tessa was extolling the many virtues of buying from your local farmer (or, at the very least, knowing where the food you are eating comes from), proprietor Michael McCarty sauntered over to our table. When I introduced him to Tessa and told him about her mission on behalf of the farmers, he told us he was once a duck farmer way back when in 1976 when he had the first foie gras farm in the United States. Small world, no?

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Willie Geist’s Parenting Advice to Kanye West; Star Jones Celebrates a Birthday

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After the last few head-spinning Wednesdays at Michael’s kept me ricocheting between Hollywood A-listers (Meg Ryan) and tabloid targets (Rachel Uchitel), it was something of a relief to turn my attention to the restaurant’s core constituency of authors and their agents (remember books?) who have always viewed the dining room at 55th & Fifth as a de facto company cafeteria. When I arrived a few minutes before noon and overheard Tom Connor telling L’Oreal Sherman he was meeting Gretchen Young for lunch, I just had to go over and introduce myself. Gretchen was my editor at Hyperion, and we worked together on two bestsellers: I Love You, Mom! a collection of celebrity essays I edited and Objection! which I co-wrote with Nancy Grace. Like I always say, in certain circles, all roads lead to Michael’s.

Now vice president and executive editor at Grand Central Publishing, Gretchen recently signed Tom’s clients Willie Geist and his father Bill Geist to write a father-son book scheduled for publication next year to coincide with Father’s Day. When Willie (who, it should be noted, is quite the snappy dresser) arrived, I asked him if the dapper duo had ever worked together before. “Aside from some yard work, no,” he told me. The yet-to-be-titled tome does have a subtitle: Birds, Bees and Other Conversations We Never Had. “It’s not going to be one of those super earnest father-son books,” says Willie. Bill describes the book as something “born out of our experiences and what we’ve learned from each other.”

“It’s really our humorous take on things,” says Willie, which seems only fitting since his first book, the bestselling American Freak Show, was a send-up of our tabloid culture featuring imagined conversations with characters like ’President’ Sarah Palin. The upcoming title will chronicle life growing up in the Geist household through a mix of essays and interviews. “I think we’ll both write things and then bounce it off each other,” says Bill. Sounds like there’s no shortage of material. “There’s the time the Christmas presents were accidentally locked in the trunk of dad’s company car and a sledgehammer was wielded,” recalls Willie. “And then there was the summer I was sent off to what was supposed to be an idyllic summer camp in New Hampshire, and I’m not exaggerating when I say the counselors were fresh-out-of-rehab juvenile delinquents, and there were literally knife fights going on around me. We’ll basically write about what not to do.”

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Tom Brokaw, Vernon Jordan and the Shy Divorcee

1003_mockup.gifIt was SRO at Michael’s today. The dining room was so jam packed every sqaure inch was occupied by a mogul (Mel Karmazin!), media heavyweight (Tom Brokaw, Jon Meacham, Jeff Zucker), or social swan (divorcee of the moment, Mercedes Bass who moved to the Garden Room with pal Lynn Nesbitt when the decibel level and fabulousness of it all got to be too much).  Just a thought: if you’re looking for a quiet, out of the way lunch spot, you might want to consider going somewhere else on Wednesday.

I was joined today by Forbes‘ new editor, Randall Lane. In his new position, Randall is presiding over familiar territory to him: the lives of the ridiculously rich and ambitious. In a previous life, he was the editor of Trader Monthly which chronicled the age of excess of the Wall Streeter of days gone by.  That experience later provided plenty of fodder for his book, The Zeroes: My Misadventures in the Decade When Wall Street Went Insane. In the interim, he’s been an editor at large for Newsweek and written for The Daily Beast. Having worked with him years ago when he was the editor in chief on the startup Justice, which covered the hot trials and legal issues of the day, I was thrilled when I heard he’d gotten the top job at Forbes back in September.

Randall first worked at Forbes fresh out of college in the nineties and spent six years “chasing rich people” and working on the franchise’s venerated power lists which required (and still do) hundreds of hours of research and manpower. “In some ways, it feels like I never left,” he tells me.

Diane Clehane and Randall Lane
Randall Lane and yours truly

Since taking the helm, Randall has been on a mission to make the book more visually exciting with interesting photography (the arresting cover image of Bill Gates in the “World’s 70 Most Powerful People” issue is a winner), fresh design elements courtesy of the Brooklyn-based shop Athletics, a livelier front of book section and more in-depth profiles on people the Forbes reader wants to know about.  Exhibit A: The cover story in the November 7 issue on Dropbox’s Drew Houston, the 28 year-old mogul who turned down Steve Jobs and is now worth $600 million which drew one million hits on Forbes.com.

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Eliot Spitzer on Working for CNN: ‘I’m having a barrel of fun!’

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Although it might not seem like it given the sheer numbers of journalists reporting from England this week, there are plenty of media folk and fashion mavens who aren’t headed out of town to cover that little get-together at Westminster Abbey on Friday. The dining room at Michael’s was packed today with A-listers of every stripe.  I lunched with my good friend Lisa Linden and Eliot Spitzer and we had plenty to talk about. Eliot joined us fresh off this morning’s shuttle from Boston where he’d given a lecture at MIT yesterday. He also taped last night’s broadcast of Inside the Arena from there.

While the rest of CNN is in the grips of royal wedding fever, Spitzer couldn’t be happier to be left out of the lovefest across the pond (“I’m really upset they didn’t send me over there,” he quipped). The subject did come up on last night’s show when he questioned Muslim activist Anjem Choudary about his planned protest at the wedding. While Spitzer pressed him on whether he was planning to “bring violence” to an  event watched by over two billion people, Choudary continually evaded the question. It was fascinating to see a flash of Spitzer’s past as New York’s attorney general come through during the exchange. Perhaps not so coincidentally, it was announced this morning that the group had canceled the planned protest.

When I asked Spitzer if he considered himself a journalist or a commentator, he answered simply, “I don’t know. I don’t mean to be vague. When the issue of objectivity comes up, I don’t think there is any such thing as objectivity. I don’t mean to say you infuse everything with bias and don’t try to be rigorously factual, but how you present every fact depends upon the prism through which you see it.” Read more

David Carey, Linda Wells & The Power Lunch Diehards

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— DIANE CLEHANE

A little birdie told us we missed Wyclef Jean by a day. Then, on Monday night, we hear the joint was jumping at Miramax’s party for The Tillman Story with Josh Brolin making the scene. We didn’t spot any celebrities in the dining room at Michael’s today (it is August, after all), but we did chat up plenty of the usual suspects who were getting in one of the last power lunches of the summer season before decamping to their cottages on the beach. (We’ll be sequestered in our air conditioned living room watching Mad Men on demand if this awful heat drags on.)

I was lunching today with public relations maven Catherine Saxton and Benjamin Cohen, president and founder of BobCarMedia. I’ve met plenty of self-made moguls here at Michael’s, but I have to say when it comes to having passion for what he does, Ben puts a lot of those guys to shame. From the moment I sat down, I found myself transfixed by Ben’s story of serial entrepreneurship that started when he was 12 years old at his parents’ retail store in Brooklyn. Enterprising Ben was so good at bringing the customers in that a competitor stole him away at age 15, and by 18, he was running his own electronics store in Westchester. At 25, he expanded his empire to include 50 cellular phone stores nationwide. “I always wanted to take the intimidation factor out of purchasing technology,” Ben told me.

In the late nineties, he opened a ‘technology salon’ on Park Avenue that was designed to keep Manhattan execs up to date with the latest gizmos and gadgets. The concept was so successful that it landed him on Bill Gates’ radar who then tapped Ben’s company for the east coast launch of Windows98. “That changed everything,” says Ben.

Ben launched BobCarMedia in 2002 with a focus on getting companies to embrace the concept of mobile marketing tools that allow consumers to test drive products outside the brick-and-mortar environment. Today, his brand ambassadors had two of his sleek, eco-friendly BobCars parked outside Michael’s so the curious could try out T-Mobile’s webConnect Rocket. “We’ve shown marketers you don’t need to wait for the customer to go into the store,” says Ben who has helped CLEAR, Wendy’s and Snickers rev up their businesses all over the country. “We’re new, different and run lean and mean. We can adapt to changing technologies and news market fast, and that means great things for our clients.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Uber agent Ed Victor and pals

2. Peter Brown

3. Hearst president David Carey, who arrived with a copy of the latest issue of Marie Claire under his arm, and a distinguished looking gent we didn’t get to meet.

4. Steven Rubenstein and an unidentified casually clad gal.

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Lunch: Tina Brown, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Media Mavens Galore!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

They were dining and dishing like it was 2006 today at Michael’s. When I mentioned to one of the regulars that I hadn’t seen the dining room jam packed with so many power lunchers in a long time, he summed up the scene this way: “People are tired of waiting for the official word that we’re out of the woods so they’re trying to act as if we are. In some ways, it’s working.” In other words, denial is the new black.

A few weeks back, my friend Robert Zimmerman introduced me to Melanie Brandman, founder and CEO of The Brandman Agency, and Diana Biederman, managing director of Blackbird PR. I chatted briefly with the two public relations mavens and today we had our own ‘Michael’s lunch.’ Melanie started her all-female agency in 2000 after serving as vice president of corporate affairs for InterContinental Hotels & Resorts in London where she headed worldwide PR for over 3,000 properties in 100 countries. Today, at the helm of her own agency, she specializes in luxury hotels and lifestyle brands and represents top-tier clients including Qantas Airways, Orient-Express Hotels & Resorts, as well as her former employer. As you might imagine, she’s logged “millions of air miles” on the job and in just the past six months alone has visited India, Morocco, and Barbados multiple times. She recently hosted a group of lucky travel writers on a six-night sojourn aboard the uber luxurious Maharajas’ Express, which travels from Delhi to Kolkata. “Absolutely the best way to see India,” says Melanie. I’ll bet.

Last year, Melanie launched Blackbird PR, a lifestyle subsidiary of The Brandman Agency, and asked Diana, who had been working as public relations director of ’21′ Club for eight years, to head up the company. Of the spin-off Melanie says: “It was a natural progression, because we do a lot of work within the lifestyle divisions of our travel clients. I wanted to keep Brandman as a separate entity.” Things are off to a good start with clients like VOS Selections, whose handcrafted artisanal wines are the brainchild of Victor O. Schwartz and Ray Griffiths Fine Jewelry.

Melanie also tells me she just opened an office in Los Angeles so she could “get more business out of Asia” and squeeze in a few more trips back home to see the family in Australia. Where does she find the time?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Hotshot Hollywood attorney and producer Freddie Gershon with legendary Oscar winning songwriters (“The Way We Were“) Alan and Marilyn Bergman.

2. Peter Brown

3. Howard Rubenstein

4. Allen & Co.’s Stanley Shuman

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Lunch: Town & Country‘s Pamela Fiori & The Getaway Gang

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It seemed only fitting that our lunch today was with Pamela Fiori, whose new book from Assouline, In The Spirit of Capri, celebrates the ultimate getaway spot. While the regulars in the dining room traded air kisses and vacation itineraries, the Town & Country editrix, along with Hearst public relations director Nathan Christopher, chatted with me over heirloom tomato salads about how this beautiful book (with tons of exquisite photos) came to be. Pamela, whose love of travel has taken her to every glamorous port of call imaginable, says the book happened by accident. A longtime fan of Capri, she suggested to Prosper Assouline and his wife Martine that they feature the divine destination in one of the house’s signature illustrated tomes. The publisher told Pamela, ‘I’m sending you a contract!’ That was that, she says. “I wanted him to do the book, but I didn’t mean for me to write it.” It became a weekend project for the busy Hearst editor, and the book debuted this month, brimming with fabulous photos including images of a barefoot Jackie O strolling through the streets with Valentino and shots of actress Marisa Berenson at the peak of her beauty in the ’60s. A launch party is planned for September 4 on Capri, hosted by Diego Della Valle and Tomino Cacace, owner of the Capri Palace. I’m packing as we speak…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Pamela Fiori, Nathan Christopher and yours truly

2. Paul Schaeffer, who sipped a virgin Bloody Mary while he waited for his pal, Law & Order’s SVU‘s Richard Belzer, to arrive.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, looking crisp and cool in his summer linens, with Kathie Berlin. Joe is fresh off his yearly visit to Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Camp, where he was camp counselor to a cabin of 10-year-old cancer patients. “These kids are so amazing,” Joe told me. “When you see what they’re going through you, realize all the stuff we worry about around here doesn’t mean anything.” Indeed.

4. Esther Newberg, who arrived toting Patricia Cornwall‘s latest (“A New York Times bestseller!”) and a gentleman we didn’t recognize

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Lunch: Dishing With The Usual Suspects

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The regulars were out in force today at Michael’s as media mavens, moguls and social types were deep in conversation around the jam-packed dining room. Everyone, it seems, had plenty to talk about, including the terrible news of Natasha Richardson‘s skiing accident. “I can’t believe it,” one diner told me. “It was sickening to see the coverage last night — especially the premature reports of her death.” The consensus at Michael’s was that there was a lot of irresponsible reporting that seemed more interested in being first than being right. Today, thank goodness, the reports seem more measured and everyone is awaiting an official word from the family. I had the opportunity to meet the talented Ms. Richardson at Michael’s on several occasions last year and she was always utterly gracious and lovely. My thoughts go out to her and her family.

Today I was lunching with Lisa Linden of Linden, Alschuler & Kaplan, Inc. public relations. A tireless gal who is as nice as she is busy. Lisa — who started the firm with Steve Alschuler 16 years ago (Lloyd Kaplan joined three years later)– reports that despite the gloomy economic climate, business is on solid ground. It’s no wonder. The principals bring a wealth of experience to their clients, having toiled in a host of positions including stints in city and state government (Lisa and Steve both served at various times as press secretary to Senator Roy Goodman and later worked together at Rubenstein; Lloyd was chief of staff at City Hall during the financial crisis in the early 70s). Lisa was also a consultant to the Clinton/Gore ’96 campaign. These days, the firm counts top tier real estate companies like Brookfield and The Plaza as clients, as well as an impressive list of “major” law firms, fashion brands (Sigrid Olsen) and nonprofits including City Meals on Wheels and The Broadway League.

During these perilous economic times, one of the things that keeps Lisa and her staff so busy is crisis management: “We’re living in unprecedented times,” Lisa told me. “There is no industry that has not been hit with a crisis.” And, counsels this public relations powerhouse, even those companies that are not dealing with disaster per se should think twice about scaling back their public relations efforts. “This is not the time to pull back,” she says. “While it is a time of crisis, it is also a time of tremendous opportunity to move messages. The media is happy to report positive stories and people are happy to read them. There is so much negativity. Companies should look for what is good and get the word out because that resonates now more than ever.” Amen to that!

And, one more thing, Lisa was thrilled to break the news to me exclusively that Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former governor George Pataki and New York State’s new Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will be the speakers at this year’s fundraising gala for The New York League of Conservation Voters (she’s co-chair of the board) scheduled for May 28 at Chelsea Piers.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Somers Farkas, Francine LeFrak and two other well-heeled gals

2. Mike Medavoy and a dark-haired gent we didn’t recognize

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Jon Burnham. Joe told me he’s off to Texas to visit mom. Thanks, Joe, for telling me about the terrific mention in Liz Smith‘s column last week on wowOwow.com about our weekly ‘Lunch’ assignations. Have a safe trip to Texas and see you in two weeks.

4. Martin Dunn and Steven Rubenstein.

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