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Posts Tagged ‘Susan Mercandetti’

Vanessa Williams, Senator Chris Dodd and Carlos Falchi on His Encounter With Jackie O

LunchAtMichaelsThey don’t call this “Upfront Week” for nothing. It was clear from the SRO dining room at Michael’s today everyone who’s anyone (at least among certain circles) wanted to be up front at 55th and Fifth. Of course, this delicate dance was pulled off with aplomb by the clever and infinitely gracious Loreal Sherman. We don’t know how she does it. After all, at Michael’s you are where you seat. TV titans (Matt Blank, Steve Mosko, Henry Schlieff), actress Vanessa Williams (rocking a hippie look and some cool shades) and even a U.S. senator (Chris Dodd) were all high up in the pecking order as the usual suspects filled in the blanks. We were thrilled to score our favorite table (7) for a fun-filled and fascinating confab with iconic designer Carlos Falchi, his incredible daughter Kate Falchi and trusted friend and adviser Mickey Ateyeh — who, incidentally, happens to know every single person in the city and did her best to introduce us to anyone who walked by our table today.

Front: Diane Clehane and Carlos Falchi; Back: Kate Falchi and Mickey Ateyeh

Front: Diane Clehane and Carlos Falchi; Back: Kate Falchi and Mickey Ateyeh

I first met the Brazilian-born designer in this very room (where else?) when Mickey introduced us. But I’d certainly known of his work for many years. While the word “legend” is as commonplace as tech startups these days, Carlos is one of the few designers today who is actually more than worthy of the moniker. His signature handbags and accessories in exotic skins have always been manufactured in New York City and have earned him legions of fans that range from the ladies who lunch of the Upper East Side and in those cities in Texas where big spenders rule (“Those ladies love their handbags!”) to their fashion-savvy granddaughters. But lest you think that Carlos is the dowagers’ designer of choice, think again. His roots go back to his days of making hand-stitched leather clothing for Miles Davis, Tina Turner and Mick Jagger. And his rock-and-roll sensibility is very much a part of his individualistic ethos today. Before our lunch he’d just come from a meeting with HSN executives, during which he was formulating plans to be part of the shopping network’s designer collective of limited-edition pieces being produced as an homage to the Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary.

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Manhattan’s A-List Turns Out for Harvey Weinstein’s Giants Pep Rally

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I’ve been covering  Wednesday’s at Michael’s for five years and have never seen anything like the head-spinning scene that unfolded there today. Harvey Weinstein and Steve Tisch threw a pep rally to end all pep rallies, and the media A-list all came out to cheer on their favorite team. Peggy Siegal and her minions descended on the place before the crowd rushed in with plenty of New York Giants paraphernalia, transforming the California cool decor into an indoor tailgate party.

By noon, I counted at least a dozen paparazzi staked out at the entrance, and they certainly weren’t disappointed. Drew Nieporent was the first to arrive (“What’s for lunch?”), and in short order the lounge was flooded with famous folks, including Brian Williams, Gayle King, Piers Morgan, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb (wearing newly identical red dresses and looking fabulous), former governor George Pataki, Matt Lauer and various members of the Tisch family.

Katie Couric and Harvey Weinstein
Katie Couric and Harvey Weinstein

Everyone’s mind was on the big game; conventional wisdom says the Giants will be this year’s Super Bowl champs, but it’s going to be a close one.  (All except Jerry Della Femina, who predicts the Patriots will take it 27-24.) “I think it’s going to be a squeaker,” offered Andrew Ross Sorkin. “At least I hope so because it will be a better game.”

Not surprisingly, Giants legend Frank Gifford, who will be watching the game from his home in Greenwich with family and friends, predicts a 30-10 win for his former team. “Eli Manning has really come into his own as a quarterback,” he told me. “But a quarterback is only as good as his team. They’re a great team. If you were playing for the Giants, you’d be a great quarterback.” Doubtful, but we appreciate the sentiment. Brian Williams, who’ll be going to the game, refused to speculate on the final score for fear of tempting the gods. ”You just don’t do that,” he told me.

Diane Clehane and Brian Williams
Diane Clehane and Brian Williams (Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris)

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Chris Matthews Stops by Michael’s

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Now that summer is unofficially over and the glitterati have shuttered their cottages in the Hamptons, the regulars have begun to trickle into Michael’s for catch-up power lunches. Things weren’t exactly operating at full tilt today, but there were enough media mavens and moguls scattered around the dining room to signal that the city’s busy social season is upon us. So, pack up those summer whites and buckle down. It’s back to business.

I was joined today by jewelry designer Lisa Salzer and my good pal Miriam Driot, who is handling international public relations and marketing for Lisa’s line of vintage costume jewelry, Lulu Frost. The gals were all abuzz about Lisa’s first-ever Fashion Week presentation with live models at MAC & Milk Studio next Monday. Lisa says the show will have an “elegant, fifties feel” and feature Mad Men-inspired period clothes from Amarcord. Despite the frenzy going on in showrooms all over town, this afternoon Lisa was the embodiment of Grace Kelly cool. “It’s the calm before the storm,” she joked.

In just six years, Lisa went from being a Dartmouth college student who sold jewelry out of her dorm room to respected talent whose vintage pieces are carried in Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and overseas in Paris and Japan. “It’s my passion,” she said. She also told me she inherited her love of all that glitters from her grandmother who ran an antique estate jewelry firm in England.

When I asked her how her business has been affected by the lingering recession, she said: “We’ve been lucky. Things have been very good. Because the collection is costume, women are still buying the pieces they love. It’s much different than selling apparel.” I’ll say. In fact, Lisa is so optimistic about her clients’ bling obsession that she’s planning to launch a fine jewelry collection next year.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Diana Taylor and Susan Mercandetti

2. Terry Allen Kramer and James Nederlander

3. Women’s Day‘s Carlos Lamadrid

4. Public relations scion Steve Rubenstein

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Peggy Siegal, Pamela Fiori & the Winner of Lunch with Laurel

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— DIANE CLEHANE

While the regulars in the dining room at Michael’s chatted about their plans for the upcoming holiday weekend, it seemed only fitting that my lunch today was with Laurie Haspel Aronson, president of Haspel, the quintessential American company responsible for the creation of the classic seersucker suit. Laurie tells me it was the brainchild of her great grandfather, Joseph Haspel, who wanted to turn the fabric once favored by laborers for its cool comfort into a natty summertime staple of bankers and businessman everywhere.

Haspel, which was founded back in 1909, has dressed some pretty iconic fellows including Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. Jimmy Smits, who wore Haspel during his stint on The West Wing, will be sporting seersucker this weekend when he hosts PBS’ July 4th special and on his upcoming series Outlaw that premieres this fall.

Laurie explains how the venerable label remains a current fashion favorite (Russell Brand is a fan) but hasn’t alienated its old school clientele this way: “The great thing about it is it can be worn by everyone and looks good on everybody. It takes on the personality of the wearer.” Indeed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Former Chanel president Arie Kopelman and his wife Coco with Pamela Fiori (in Chanel) and a distinguished looking gent we didn’t recognize.

2. A very blonde Peggy Siegal and a handsome young fellow.

3. Scribe Phoebe Eaton, looking very glam

4. Abernathy & MacGregor’s Jim Abernathy

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Lunch: Hoda Kotb, Dan Abrams & George Stephanopoulos Brave the St. Pat’s Crowds

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The hardcore Michael’s regulars weren’t about to let a little thing like the Saint Patrick’s Day parade get in the way of their power lunch today. After a slow start, the dining room filled up nicely with plenty of media mavens and talking heads. The Today show’s Hoda Kotb was among the first to arrive and looked smashing in her emerald floral sheath by Adrienne Papel. “I’m meeting Dan Abrams, but he’s coming from downtown so I hope he makes it,” said Hoda, having made her way through the few thousand extra people clogging up the sidewalks on the East Side.

With Kathie Lee Gifford on vacation this week, Hoda has been enjoying something of a television time warp with her guest co-hosts. On Monday, she was joined by Beverly Hills 90210‘s resident good guy Jason Priestley, Growing Pains‘s Kirk Cameron came by on Tuesday, and his TV dad Alan Thicke was today’s blast from the past. “Tomorrow, Ralph Macchio from The Karate Kid is coming in and Friday it’s Andrew Shue. I’m having a lot of fun.” Turns out Hoda is something of a sitcom aficionado and can easily reel off her TV favorites from days gone by: “I loved Growing Pains, Who’s The Boss, Rhoda, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” We could have talked about iconic TV hits forever, but luckily Dan did make it uptown and lunch went on as planned.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. This year’s “Kelly Gang” contingent: New York Post‘s media man Keith Kelly with a table full of revelers, including Jim Kelly, Tom Kelly, and Kelly Delaney.

2. George Stephanopoulos and David Anton. I caught George on his way to his table to ask who he thought should take his Sunday morning seat. “I don’t know!” he said with a smile and dashed off before I could get in a follow-up.

3. Margo McNabb Nederlander and another stylish blonde gal we didn’t recognize

4. Hoda Kotb and Dan Abrams

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Lunch: Happy Birthday Donna Hanover & Paula Zahn

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— DIANE CLEHANE

If it’s Wednesday, it’s party time at Michael’s. We’re still recovering from the head spinning spectacle of last week’s A-list lunch for James Cameron. This week, the celebration was a tad more low-key at Table One as public relations maven Joannie Danielides hosted her annual birthday luncheon for her good pal and long time client, Donna Hanover, whose actual birthday was February 15. Joannie, who is busier than ever these days with a full roster of clients in health care and education, told me it was actually a double celebration since it was guest Paula Zahn‘s birthday as well.

I caught up with Paula before she joined the party to chat about her new show, On the Case with Paula Zahn, on Discovery ID. “We’ve just been renewed for a second season,” said Paula, who looked better than ever in a chic leopard print top and some killer stiletto boots. “It’s been great. I’m getting to do some amazing stories. Right after this, I’m getting on a plane and heading to an Alabama prison.” Some people have all the fun.

I had lunch with two of my favorite people today: producer Joan Gelman and Robert Zimmerman, partner of the Long Island based marketing firm, Zimmerman/Edelson. Joan arrived first and told me about her recent trip to Vietnam with her husband, Don Aronson. Both Joan and Don were anti-war activists back in the day and are still true believers. On this trip, the couple spent some time visiting orphanages and were “shocked and appalled” to see the awful effects that Agent Orange has wrought on the country. “It was horrifying to see the stark reality of what war can do to a people — and what we did to these people,” Joan told me.

Things lightened up a bit when Robert arrived. Between the two of them, they know just about everyone in New York and, trust me, the conversation is never dull. (Most of the juiciest stuff is, of course, off the record.) Since Joan is a die-hard Democrat and Robert is an in-demand political commentator for all the cable channels, we had plenty to talk about. When Evan Bayh‘s surprise resignation from Congress came up, Robert offered this assessment: “Saying he’s fallen out of love with Congress is something a 14 year-old adolescent would say. There’s a lot more to it than being in love; it’s about getting the job done.” Robert had these words of advice for jump-starting the stalled government: “The challenge for the Democrats is to come out of group therapy and get things started again. The ball is in our court. Success depends on us acting on our message.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Birthday girls Donna Hanover and Paula Zahn, Joannie Danielides, Gayle King, Time Inc’s Ann Moore, Linda Stacey, Karen Scott, Sue Leibman and Matilda Cuomo. A little birdie told me the girls dug into two birthday cakes: one carrot cake and one chocolate. It seems like the group couldn’t get enough sweet treats. We spied doggie bags stuffed with cookies being packed into a few purses.

2. Most of ‘The Imber Gang:’ Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Jeff Greenfield

3. Gerry Byrne, who just launched Fidelis Global Enterprises LLC. New clients of his advertising media consultancy agency include Adgenesis and Beezag. I caught up with Jerry until his guest, Jane Hanson, arrived. I told Jane I loved the stuff she’s been doing on LX New York, showing the fledgling talking heads how it’s done.

4. A bespectacled Mike Ovitz and a fellow we didn’t recognize

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Lunch: Charlie Rose, Fern Mallis & Tina Brown

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Forget about the summer doldrums: Even though the sun’s not shining today, Michael’s was hot, hot, hot and so jam-packed I could barely get a bite in edgewise as I tried to keep up with the air-kissing action in the dining room. Despite the dreadful weather (and its dampening effect on rental prices in the Hamptons — we can’t relate but maybe we can score a bargain for August), the usual suspects were on the scene and downright chipper to mix and mingle with fellow media mavens.

I was thrilled to be lunching with my good pals Lisa Silhanek (who knows everyone) and IMG’s Fern Mallis who, when she’s not running New York Fashion Week, moonlights as a guest judge on Bravo’s The Fashion Show with Isaac Mizrahi. We were joined by two charming and enterprising entrepreneurs, Fermin Perez and Carlos Lorenzo of Global Events, a worldwide event production company. The guys are producing the Spanish Mile in SoHo tomorrow night, where 1500 fashionistas are expected to tour all the Spanish-themed and owned businesses in the neighborhood. Fern is acting as ‘ambassador’ for the evening’s festivities. Where does she find the time?

I just had to ask Fern how her fledgling career as a reality show star was going. “It’s been great,” she says. Incidentally, Fern wears her own clothes on the show (seems she’s been getting emails from fans inquiring about her wardrobe). On Friday, Fern and the gang will be shooting the second to last episode at Cipriani downtown, where six finalists will stage a runway show before a full house (word is those plucky Housewives from New Jersey and New York will be there). Then, America will have 24 hours to vote on a winner, who’ll be announced on the season finale next month. Stay tuned!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Charlie Rose and pals

2. Jim Wiatt

3. Town & Country’s Pamela Fiori with a striking silver-haired gal and a gent who looked so familiar, but we just couldn’t place him…

4. Cosmo editrix Kate White (Long time no see!) with Linda Fairstein, who arrived sporting ‘Cy Vance for DA’ buttons on both lapels of her jacket. Linda (who hates Kindle, by the way — “I’m an old fashioned book person”) tells all about what it takes to churn out a book a year (she’s written 11!) and how the Internet is marketing Mecca for aspiring writers everywhere in the latest installment of mediabistro.com’s So What Do You Do? series.

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Lunch: Musical Chairs With Sir Paul McCartney

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— DIANE CLEHANE

So you think you’ve got problems? Paul McCartney (that’s Sir Paul to you) arrived at Michael’s today shortly before noon to scope out a table for a quiet lunch with Barbara Walters. When he was ushered to Table One, situated in the bay window, he passed on perching at the power spot and asked to check out the room before settling on a primo corner table. Babs arrived shortly thereafter, as did a dark-haired beauty that some thought might be Paul’s gal pal Nancy Shevell (but we think not) and a distinguished mystery gent. But alas, the happy foursome couldn’t enjoy their lunch because the eagle-eyed former Beatle spied a pesky video cameraman taking it all in from the sidewalk, shooting through the window. We’re guessing it was those intrepid folks from TMZ who regularly stake out the joint. Well, Paul wasn’t about to give up on his quest for some privacy, so the gang moved once again to the back of the dining room and finally settled in for some good dish. Whew!

The rest of the room was buzzing, with tables shoehorned in all over the place to deal with the overflow of media A-listers. When I made my rounds, I stopped by my good pal Fern Mallis‘ table to say hello. She was nice enough to introduce me to her charming niece, Brooke Lampley, an assistant vice president at Christie’s, and internationally acclaimed museum designer Stuart Silver. The always-optimistic Fern wanted to talk about how well things are going as she prepares for next month’s Fashion Week. (We can’t wait for the Barbie show!) Contrary to published reports, says Fern, there are plenty of exciting designers and companies that are spending money to show at the tents — some for the first time. “I don’t understand why people want to focus on so much negativity,” says Fern. “Why not write about what new things people are doing to help their businesses?” It’s a good question. Many folks that I’ve talked to in the fashion biz say the reporting in this area is far too much gloom and doom, and it’s becoming something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. So come on, people! How about some industry cheerleading? It certainly couldn’t hurt.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Imber Gang: Dr. Gerry Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman. We’re guessing Jeff Greenfield is a bit busy for lunch this week…

2. John Sykes (who was overheard telling Paul McCartney that he had dinner with Clint Eastwood last night and was singing the praises of his latest film, Gran Torino. ‘It’s great,’ enthused John!) and Frederic Fekkai

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong with Glamour editrix Cindi Leive

4. Fox 5′s Rosanna Scotto with her former colleague, newly-minted real estate mogul Penny Crone

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Lunch: Joy Behar, Star Jones & Another Sarah Palin Doppelganger

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— DIANE CLEHANE

What recession? The joint was jumping at Michael’s today. Media mavens, television types and fashionistas were still trying to digest the week’s head spinning events but, in true New York style, weren’t letting a worldwide tanking economy get in the way of a good time. There was plenty of buzz about last night’s debate — a few folks in the dining room today watched the whole thing go down at Denise Rich‘s house. The verdict: Obama won and will win.

The ‘other side of the aisle’ was more than represented when Loreal Sherman, Michael’s tireless and terrific maitre d’, launched into a dead-on imitation of Gov. Sarah Palin for departing diners Joy Behar and CNN’s Jon Klein. Ducking inside the coat closet after donning some clear square framed glasses and using the door as her debate podium, Loreal had the gathering crowd in stitches as she improvised a performance of Palin’s indelible one-liners from her debate with Joe Biden last week. Afterwards, when I told her I marveled at her ability to do spontaneous stand-up, Loreal confessed she’s a professionally trained performer who once sang at Carnegie Hall. Memo to Tina Fey: You can’t be everywhere, so if you’re ever in need of a stand-in (who even looks like you!) Loreal is your girl. You know where to find her.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Star Jones, who called minutes before noon after “a really important meeting” for a table for herself and her entourage. The mood was pretty upbeat (we overheard Star cracking some Sarah Palin jokes) and there was wine all around. When I asked the usually chatty Star about what she was dishing about with her pals, she slipped on her shades and said, “Business, Business,” before sauntering out with nary a look in Joy Behar’s direction.

2. CBS spinmeister Gil Schwartz (who is always smart enough to make his reservation for Wednesday!) with Madison Square Garden’s human resource honcho John D. Moran.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong sporting his Obama button — and talking (what else?) politics — with Cynthia Brill and major democratic booster Maureen White.

4. New York’s First Lady Michelle Paterson with Alexa Eaton and Debbie Bancroft. Word is Mrs. Paterson is “not pleased” with New York magazine’s cover story on her husband. Well, we’ll say this, the cover line “David Paterson Didn’t Ask For This” was perfect.

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Lunch: Charlie Rose, Joe Scarborough, and the Summer Die-Hards

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— DIANE CLEHANE

With the dog days of summer upon us, the usual suspects at Michael’s are soldiering on over their Cobb salads until it’s time to take off those last few weeks of the month to the Hamptons, Nantucket or some other sun-filled spot far from the madding crowd. In the meantime, the random celebrity sighting is keeping things interesting. Word of illusionist JB Benn‘s sleight of hand tricks that kept the crowd bedazzled last week must have gotten around the magician’s union because my spies told me that David Blaine walked in without a reservation yesterday and was bending quarters for everybody’s amusement. Just thought you’d like to know.

I was lunching today with publishing powerhouse turned Internet entrepreneur Joni Evans, whose five-month old site Wowowow.com is going great guns. Joni, who is wow’s CEO, launched the site with pals Liz Smith, Peggy Noonan, Mary Wells and Lesley Stahl for “self-assured women who are a bit too old to care what everybody thinks.” This month, Joni kicked off “The Book Party” with Judith Martin (Miss Manners) reading a collection of the classics. “It’s been incredibly well-received,” she says, and plans are in the works to expand the vertical in all sorts of interesting ways. And that’s not all — Joni tells me in the not-so-distant future the site will introduce a new fashion maven into the mix to cover style and a health vertical ‘Medicine Ball.’ The site’s content is popping up on MSN.com, Fox.com and Yahoo’s Shine. For more dish about Joni and her newfound career, check out her interview with me for our “So What Do You Do?” series coming next month …

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Charlie Rose and an unidentifed young blonde gal

2. Peter Brown

3. Jonathan Tisch and John Sykes

4. Michael Fuchs and Peggy Siegal

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