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Posts Tagged ‘Susan Blond’

John Sykes, Tommy Hilfiger and a Real-Life Warrior Princess

1003_mockup.gifAs the faithful readers of this column already know, lunch at Michael’s is never really just about lunch, but it is (usually) a lot of fun. And today was no exception. I was invited to join a ‘girl’s lunch’ for author Mindy Budgor hosted by Jolie Hunt, AOL’s former chief marketing officer. Jolie, who knows practically everyone in New York, told me she decided to get a group of women together for Mindy, who recently moved here from Chicago, and “pop her Michael’s cherry.” Alrighty then. When Mindy asked if she knew “any interesting women in New York,” Jolie sprung into action and gathered The Wall Street Journal‘s media editor Keach HageyKyle Gibson, executive producer of Newsweek The Daily Beast‘s Women in the World; Deborah Needleman, editor of The New Yorks Times T magazine; recently departed Lucky EIC Brandon HolleySara Nelson, Amazon editorial director of books and Kindle, Wenda Harris Millard and yours truly to dine and dish at Table One. Mindy brought along former Today show senior producer-turned-media trainer Amy Rosenblum and Andrea Lustig, author and contributing editor for Glamour.

I chatted (OTR, sorry) with newlywed Sara Nelson (Congrats!) and Brandon Holley before we sat down for lunch. Uber chic Brandon, who I first met during her days at Yahoo! Shine, told me she’s planning to spend the summer with her family in Montauk. I can’t say I blame her. When the rest of the gang arrived we sat in rapt attention as guest of honor Mindy told the story behind her new book, Warrior Princess, My Quest to Become the First Female Maasai Warrior (Allen & Unwin). I hadn’t known what to expect when Jolie told me she was hosting this gathering for her friend who was — really — the first ever female Maasai warrior. I certainly didn’t expect her to be the sweet 30-year-old woman sporting a Bulgari pendant I mistook for some tribal gem who regaled the group of tales of slaughtering goats and cows and drinking their blood (so much for my appetite.)

Jolie Hunt, Mindy Budgor and Diane Clehane

It turns out a woman’s magazine has an exclusive on Mindy’s story — the details are very hush-hush — so I’m not allowed to share the jaw-dropping tale she told us over lunch. Before I was advised of the embargo, I asked why this self-described “nice, Jewish girl” decided to quit her job in Chicago and go off to Kenya, and she told me, “I felt my values were out of whack.”

I’m sworn to secrecy on the rest of her story (a first at Michael’s, I know), but I can share what’s on Mindy’s own website. The Santa Barbara native bought a ticket to Kenya and set off to volunteer building schools and hospitals in the Maasai Mara. While she was there, she asked the chief why there were no female warriors. After being told that women “are not strong enough or brave enough,” Mindy and her fellow volunteer, Becca, knew what they had to do. Her journey from bored MBA student to fearless female warrior is definitely inspiring. No doubt there’s plenty of lessons in the book (and some interesting photos from her time in Kenya) for those of us trying to survive in the concrete jungle. I’m starting Warrior Princess tonight.  Read more

Jann Wenner’s Father-Son Pow Wow and Moguls on the Menu

1003_mockup.gifAfter weeks of Wednesdays full of Hollywood heavyweights (culminating in our Table One sit-down with Mitch Glazer and Kelly Lynch last week) there were more moguls (William Lauder, Jimmy Finkelstein) than celebrities at Michael’s today. However, the talking head contingent was represented by regulars Star Jones and MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart. Today’s most intriguing table was the one where Jann Wenner was sitting with his son, Gus Wenner. Discussing the finer points of the power lunch, perhaps? Or maybe just tossing around some ideas for the website the 22 year-old publishing scion is now running. No matter — when dad’s the boss, I’m sure there’s plenty of room on that learning curve regardless of the subject.

I was joined today by Laurel Kamen and Christine Irvin, co-founders of  The Alloro Collection, a new ready to wear and accessories collection designed for women who have had breast cancer. I was surprised to learn that the collection, which does not sacrifice fashion for function, is truly the first of its kind since there was clearly a need for such an innovation for so long. The idea for the collection came to Laurel on the evening before her own breast cancer surgery a year and a half ago. After being diagnosed with cancer in her left breast, she elected to have a double mastectomy to reduce the risk of a recurrence, a decision which ended up saving her life. When Christine got the call from her longtime friend to tell her about the idea, she was all in. “She could have asked me if I wanted to go in on starting a car wash in Pittsburgh that night, and I would have said yes,” quipped Christine, “but, clearly, this idea was one that was about creating something for women with breast cancer where a real need existed and was a chance to help women restart their lives.”

Christine Irvin, Diane Clehane and Laurel Kamen

The Alloro Collection, whose name comes from the Italian pronunciation of Laurel’s name, was launched at a trunk show in Washington, DC, in March and immediately garnered extensive coverage in The Washington Post with a full page story by Robin Givhan and in WWD and W with pieces by Susan Watters. The 20-piece signature collection of tops, dresses and accessories which range from $160 to $250 is designed by Laurel’s cousin, New York-based designer Roedean Landeaux, whose own mother died of breast cancer. (There is also a more afford ably priced line of pieces under $50.)

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Mika Brzezinski, Miss USA and a Mysterious Stephen Baldwin Sighting

1003_mockup.gifMaybe it was today’s dreadful weather (Will this winter from hell ever end?) or perhaps some boldface names can’t bring themselves to leave the sunny West Coast after the Oscars, but the scene at Michael’s today was pretty much a celebrity-free zone unless you count the random sighting of Stephen Baldwin. The more low-key Baldwin made a curiously brief appearance in the dining room (he didn’t even sit down) before leaving, so we never got the chance to ask him what he thinks about brother Alec Baldwin‘s war with The New York Post, but we did try. There was, however, an interesting mix of bold faced names including police commissioner Ray Kelly and the newly crowed Miss USA Nana Meriwether who, despite leaving her sash and crown at home, looked every inch the pageant winner. Being almost six feet tall certainly helps stand out in a crowd.

I was joined today by Woman’s Day editor-in-chief Susan Spencer and Hearst executive director of public relations Mimi Crume Sterling. Having never met these smart, savvy gals before, we bonded over a talk about our daughters. Susan, like me, is mother to an elementary-school-aged daughter adopted from China; Mimi has a little girl and is about to give birth to her first son any minute (we had our fingers crossed she’d make it through lunch!). We all agreed parenthood is an unending source of material.

Susan Spencer and Diane Clehane

Since joining the magazine in February of last year from Time Inc.’s All You, Susan has made some interesting changes to the magazine. “I’ve fallen in love with the reader,” she says. This is not your mother’s Woman’s Day, although Susan is mindful of the generational connection between readers of the 75-year-old Hearst title. “Some readers have been reading the magazine for 60 years, and now their daughters and their daughters’ daughters are reading it,” she explained. When asked just who is the Woman’s Day reader, Susan told me: “She’s the ‘Average Josephine’ — the receptionist, the administrative assistant, the teacher, the nurse. These are the women who I consider to be the backbone of America.” That doesn’t mean, however, these women (more than half work outside the home) are not interested in fashion and the good things in life. Just the opposite. “These women have a lot of joy in their life. They embrace positivity,” says Susan. “That’s why the title of the magazine is so perfect for them. It’s about her day and the joy she gets out of it.” To tap into that, Susan retooled the fashion pages focusing more on value in all its iterations. “Our reader doesn’t want to see a great shoe and then find out it’s $300 or even $150. It has to make sense for her life.” In fact, “Value Tags” appear throughout the magazine to highlight steals, deals and all-around great ideas.

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Susan Blond: My First Big Break

How many people can say their career launched the day they met Andy Warhol? In the latest episode of mediabistroTV’s “My First Big Break”, we talk to the legendary Susan Blond, the most famous person you’ve never heard of.

The New York City based PR maven was once the “It Girl” of Warhol’s party playland that was New York in the 70s. Painting, starring in Warhol’s films, appearing in an erotic public access series, being named the first female VP at CBS Records and finally opening her own PR Company, Blond was wild and knew how to network. Selfishly, we at mediabistroTV are also excited that she brought us just two degrees of separation away from Kevin Bacon!

For more videos, check out our YouTube channel and follow us on Twitter: @mediabistroTV

Susan Blond: My First Big Break

How many people can say their career launched the day they met Andy Warhol? In the latest episode of mediabistroTV’s My First Big Break, we talk to the legendary Susan Blond, the most famous person you’ve never heard of.

The New York City based PR maven was once the “It Girl” of Warhol’s party playland that was New York in the 70s. Painting, starring in Warhol’s films, appearing in an erotic public access series, being named the first female VP at CBS Records and finally opening her own PR Company, Blond was wild and knew how to network. Selfishly, we at mediabistroTV are also excited that she brought us just two degrees of separation away from Kevin Bacon!

For more videos, check out our YouTube channel and follow us on Twitter: @mediabistroTV

Barbara Walters, Arianna Huffington and a Socialite Celebration

1003_mockup.gifWe were so disappointed to hear we missed Alec Baldwin by a day. A little birdie told me Manhattan’s most famous newlywed was in an extremely good mood yesterday as he dined with a mystery gal with a British accent (Attention Andrea Peyser!). Here’s another tasty tidbit about the 30 Rock star: He is apparently not done with Twitter as he tweeted about the dessert sent to him by Michael’s GM Steve Millington congratulating him on his headline-making nuputials. I just thought you’d like to know.

Now, on to today’s crowd. This being the last few weeks before everyone takes off for their cottages in the Hamptons and family compounds in Maine, Michael’s was chock full of A-listers, including Barbara WaltersArianna Huffington and a squadron of social types. I was joined today by Marianne Howatson and Kendell Cronstrom and we had plenty to talk about. I’ve known Mariane since her days at Conde Nast where she was publisher of Travel & Leisure and Self. She then went on to be group publisher of Gruner+Jahr. These days, she is CEO and publication director of three gorgeous shelter books: Connecticut Cottages & GardensHamptons Cottages & Gardens and the company’s newest edition, New York Cottages & Gardens which launched in March.

Marianne bought the books in 2009 because she says, “I was in love with the magazines.” And, it seems, she’s not alone. “Every house I go into in the Hamptons, the magazine is right there on the table. It’s wonderful to see.” The appeal of the books lies in their “sense of place” and the feeling of “intimacy” that connects the reader to its design-focused content, explained Marianne. The books’ affluent, passionate readers with a median household income of $880,000 and the company’s event-driven marketing efforts have made it the advertising vehicle for luxe lifestyle brands, like Hermes, Scalamandre, ligne roset and roche bobois.  NYC &G, with  Kendell at the helm, has been so well received that Marianne decided to up the print run by 25 percent, increase the frequency from five to six times a year, and sell the book on the newsstand for $5.95. In the era of the $12 print subscription, Marianne’s asking price of $99.95 for all three titles is truly a vote of confidence for the future.

Marianne Howatson, Kendell Cronstrom and Diane Clehane

It’s clear that Marianne has set the bar high on all fronts. This year, the stellar roster of events the company has sponsored is truly impressive. In Connecticut, its Innovation in Design Awards have been recognizing the area’s leading architects and designers for six years. The magazine also sponsored the Red Cross Ball and created Pink Aid, a brilliant initiative to raise money for breast cancer awareness in partnership with Mitchell’s of Westport. The luncheon features a collection of pink chairs artfully adorned by a host of designers which line the front row at a fashion show of a top designer. Guests pay $1,000 to sit in the chairs and afterwards they are available for sale. Last year’s event raised $330,000 for area hospitals. This year’s event is scheduled for October 4 and will feature a Ralph Lauren fashion show. CTC&G Editor D.J. Carey has also redesigned the book’s logo for September which, explains Marianne, will “open up” the cover, giving it an airy, more modern feel.

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Ringing in the Holidays With Harold Ford Jr., Star Jones & Donny Deutsch

1003_mockup.gifThe holiday revelry was in high gear today at Michael’s. Those miracle workers at reception — the amazing Loreal Sherman and Joana Andrade were working overtime to keep the high maintenance crowd happy. (Trust me, doing the seating chart here is an art form!) A little lunch for 13 hosted by Michael McCarty’s wife Kim McCarty was keeping things hopping at table one while a heaping helping of talking heads (Harold Ford Jr., Star Jones, Donny Deutsch), socialites (Becca Thrash, Muffy Potter Aston) and media mavens (Cindi Leive) were toasting the season with plenty of wine and good cheer. Don’t you just love those one percenters?

Diane Clehane & Joan Gelman

I was lunching today with producer Joan Gelman who I met in this very dining room when I first began doing the column. Joan and I have had plenty of great conversations over the years about television (Joan’s amazing resume includes producing stints at CBS and ABC in news and as David Letterman’s producer who remains “a god” to her — “He’s so talented” ) and politics. These days Joan is busier than ever working on a television show she’s got in development in Canada. (The details are top secret at the moment) Shuttling back and forth between here and there is nothing new for her since she produced the hit Triple Sensation there a while back.  Joan is also a passionate Democrat who cares deeply about the issues consuming the country right now — especially the financial inequities that have ignited protests around the country. “We have to do more to even things out,” she told me. Just this morning Joan attended a gathering where U.S. Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren spoke. “She is such an amazing woman,” marvels Joan. “She’s smart, she cares and she wants to restore the spirit of the country.” Joan told me Ms. Warren’s message was a “positive” one and that she believes fervently in healing “the great divide” that has consumed the country and seeped into national politics. We both agreed that she’s facing a tough battle against incumbent Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown because female candidates are held to a different standard than their male counterparts. “She’s a brave woman.” Indeed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

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Real Housewife Melissa Gorga Dishes on Her Sister-in-Law From Hell

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Slow moving holiday tourists and presidential motorcades be damned. Nothing could keep the faithful away from Michael’s today. With the place decked out in its holiday finery, the mood was like a swanky office party on steroids.  While the usual suspects and a cool visitor from California (producer/composer David Foster) huddled over their tables deep in conversation, there was a little lunch for 14 in the middle of the dining room. I snagged one of the guests, Melissa Gorga, my favorite ‘housewife’ on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, for a chat about the knock-down, drag-out cat fights on last month’s reunion show and to get the real story about her on- and off-camera relationship with her fellow cast mate and sister-in-law, the charming Teresa Guidice.

Melissa, who is an absolute knockout in person, told me that the RHONJ cast (minus Jacqueline Laurita) shot the reunion special the day after wrapping the yet-to-be-aired Season 4, and the women were all seething about battles and betrayals the viewers haven’t even seen. “We had just had a huge blow up the night before, and that was what was on everyone’s mind. It was so hard not to say anything. That’s why Jacqueline wasn’t there,” Melissa tells me. “It was very confusing for us, and we were constantly trying not to say things about things that hadn’t aired yet. Bravo is so sorry they shot them back to back. I don’t think they are ever going to do that again.” Teresa “tried to set me up” and is back to her old tricks, Melissa told me, without giving anything away. After all the kissing and making up seen at the end of last season, Melissa’s husband Joe Gorga is “disgusted” with his table tipping sibling once again. Big surprise.

Diane Clehane, Bonnie Fuller, Melissa Gorga and Carlos Lamadrid
Diane Clehane, Bonnie Fuller, Melissa Gorga and Carlos Lamadrid

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Bob Schieffer, Carl Bernstein and The Shopaholic Squadron

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It was a tasty mix of media mavens and fab fashionistas at Michael’s today as the town car set dined and dished before jetting off to their summer cottages. While Rupert Murdoch was still topic A for plenty of regulars, talk of the stalemate over the debt ceiling appeared to be on plenty of folks’ minds, too. “I’ve got clients who are on the brink of spending some serious money,” one stylista told me. “I’m praying I can get the deals signed and sealed before something happens to scare them away.” We’ve got our fingers crossed.

I was joined today by Jaqui Lividini whose company, Lividini & Co. specializes in brand development for fashion and lifestyle companies. Having spent two decades at Saks Fifth Avenue — when she left to start her own firm, she was senior vice president of fashion merchandising and communications –  Jaqui now works with an impressive roster of fab fashionistas, including fine jewelry designer Monica Rich Kosann, silversmith Georg Jensen and lingerie designer Josie Natori who, says Jaqui, has transformed her business into a “lifestyle brand” with a new East-West inspired home accents line and a lower-priced intimate apparel collection for Target due in October. Jaqui’s company also counsels a long list of retailers, like Scoop and my personal favorite, Lord & Taylor.

Richard Baker, CEO of the Hudson’s Bay Trading Company, which owns and operates Lord & Taylor, brought Jaqui on board six years ago when the store began its transformation from a staid, somewhat traditional specialty retailer into the go-to, chic shopping emporium it is today. “What [CEO] Brendan Hoffman and  the whole team at Lord & Taylor have done is fantastic,” says Jaqui. And rev up those credit cards — Jaqui reports the Westchester store (the most profitable location in the chain) is adding home to its offerings, plus two new locations are planned for New Jersey. Ready, set, shop!

1.  Joel Chase and a table full of suited up movers and shakers.

2. Cosmo editrix Kate White (loved those sky high sandals!) and Estee Lauder’s Marisa Thalberg.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong with Carl Bernstein, who told me he’s hot on Rupert Murdoch‘s trail for The Daily Beast and Newsweek. The intrepid journo, who knows a thing or two about covering wire tapping stories, says the story of Murdoch’s imploding media empire is “complicated.” He also told me he’s not as sure as some other media watchers seem to be about Murdoch’s eventual ouster as chairman of his company. “It’s more about him being able to put one of his kids in there,” Carl told me. We’ll be reading your future dispatches from the front lines with interest.

4. The Early Show: Face the Nation’s Bob Schieffer with his lovely wife Pat

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Video: 20 Years Of Susan Blond, PR Handler To Thriller-Era MJ, Britney, Others

Last week, Michael’s played host to 20th anniversary party for Susan Blond, p.r. diva to Michael Jackson (Thriller-era), Boy George, Prince and hundreds of others. The video tribute — featuring Clive Davis, Usher, Lil Jon and Patrick McMullan, among others — was screened at the party. At eight minutes, it’s long, but spans a good crunk, er, chunk, of three decades of “handling” talent.

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