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Posts Tagged ‘Don Epstein’

Back to Business With Walter Isaacson, Joe Kernen and Time Inc.’s CEO

LunchAtMichaelsWe’re back! The power lunch crowd eased back into the swing of things with a fairly low key, celeb-free scene at Michael’s today. While there were plenty of head honchos filling out the dining room (Time Inc’s CEO Joe Ripp, NBCU’s Lauren Zalaznick and Discovery ID’s Henry Schleiff), there was a  touch of post-Labor Day letdown in the air (Where did the summer go?), but no matter — it’s time to get back to business.

I was joined today by Newell Turner, editorial director of Hearst Design Group and EIC of House Beautiful, Shax Riegler (don’t you just love that name?) House Beautiful’s executive editor and Hearst Magazines’ PR guru Michael McGraw. I don’t mind telling you that our table was one of the more lively spots in the dining room as we dished about our favorite show (Is Paul Giamatti really going to play the love interest of Lady Mary on Downton Abbey? Did Dan Stevens commit career suicide? ), pondered how people could possibly enjoy their vacations when they spend all their time posting photos from their holidays on Instagram and agreed Bravo needs to devote less PR oxygen to Housewives and give more attention to Property Envy which features one of my favorite designers, Mary McDonald. It’s like Fashion Police for the real estate-obsessed. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Shax Riegler, Diane Clehane and Newell Turner

Having decided those important issues, we settled in for an interesting chat about the exciting things House Beautiful has in store this fall. Between bites of salad nicoise, Newell (who looked dashing in his Ralph Lauren linen suit), told me all about his plans for a new series of “pop up” editors who collaborated with him on a series of issues beginning in October. He told me the idea came about when he and the magazine’s Editor-at-Large, Chesie Breen “were stuck in the airport in Barbados” and were “killing time over a glass of rose.” Nice work if you can get it.

Right there on the spot, Newell decided on bringing in a series of guest editors christened “pop up editors” who could create issues that had a “curated, one-of-kind feeling” bringing their particular interest and expertise into the mix. His first order of business once he was back in New York was to “sell it to my bosses (at Hearst) and tell them that everything we did would communicate House Beautiful.” To do so, “We eased into it with Chesie as our first pop up editor,” explained Newell. “Which was great because she was already part of our world.” Still, he was interested in bringing a fresh perspective (“We get so insulated”) and started off by asking each pop up editor to “bring everything to the table.”

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Lauren Berger Writes New Book for Young People Entering "Real World"

Lauren Berger Welcome to the Real WorldCareer Expert, Lauren Berger, releases her second book, Welcome to the Real World: Finding Your Place, Perfecting Your Work, and Turning Your Job Into Your Dream Career (Harper Business), on April 22nd. In this book, Berger shares everything she wishes someone told her after graduation. Her book is the essential guide to anyone starting their first, second, or third job. She encourages readers to be fearless, step outside of their comfort zones, and go after what they want.

Lisa Vanderpump Dishes on the Beverly Hills Housewives, Wendy Williams Holds Court

1003_mockup.gifHappy New Year — now let’s get  back to business. The power lunch season is back in full swing at Michael’s, so we’re serving up a double helping of ‘Lunch’ this week.

On Tuesday, Lisa Vanderpump and her husband Ken Todd joined me along with Bravo’s Jennifer Geisser and Jodi Davis at Table One to talk about her new Bravo series, Vanderpump Rules and, of course, dish about the current season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Lisa was wrapping up a whirlwind 48-hour stop in New York to promote her new show and in the last 24 hours appeared on Good Morning America, The Wendy Williams Show, Joy Behar, Anderson Live and Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen where, so I heard, things got a little bawdy. It took a few minutes for Lisa and Ken to make their way to our table, because several RHOBH fans stopped them to ask to take a photo with Giggy, their Pomeranian who accompanies them everywhere. It turns out Giggy also has a famous fan in Alec Baldwin, who Lisa told me, jumped out of his town car at 30 Rock that very morning and asked, “Can I hold him?” He then snapped his own photo with the four-legged reality star who has his own Twitter handle. See, Andrea Peyser, the 30 Rock star does have a heart.

When Lisa and Ken settled in for our chat and Giggy, who was wearing a jewel encrusted sweater that I’m pretty sure cost more than my dress, was safely seated and drinking water out of a champagne glass (you can’t make this stuff up) — I just had to ask why this very successful, smart and even-keeled couple jumped into the reality show pool of insanity in the first place. It turns out Ken was “extremely apprehensive” about letting in the cameras in, and Lisa turned down requests many times before deciding to give it a try. None other than Jennifer Flavin (Mrs. Sylvester Stallone), who was obsessed with the New York housewives, encouraged Lisa to try out. “We were sitting on Jennifer and Sly’s bed and she said, ‘You have to watch this.’ I did and thought, ‘I’d never do anything like that.’” Well, never say never. After finally auditioning for the show and then waiting months to hear from the producers, Lisa decided she did want in. “Once I thought it might not happen then I wanted it,” said Lisa with a laugh. While awaiting word from Bravo, Lisa had attached herself to another reality show with friend Kathy Hilton, but when Andy Cohen came calling she was in. And that, as they say, was that.

Ken Todd, Diane Clehane, Giggy the dog, Lisa Vanderpump

Ken Todd, Diane Clehane, Giggy the dog, Lisa Vanderpump

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Star Jones, Charlie Rose and Manhattan’s Most Discreet Fine Jeweler

1003_mockup.gifThe line to get into Michael’s snaked onto the sidewalk today as the fall power lunch season finally got under way. There were talking heads (Star Jones, Charlie Rose) and media types (David Zinczenko, Jack Kliger) and the usual well-heeled crowd who just couldn’t wait to get down to business.

I was joined today by the dashing and delightful Edward Landrigan and Nicholas Landrigan, the father and son team at the helm of Verdura, the venerable jewelry house favored by style icons like Greta Garbo, the Duchess of Windsor and Marlene Dietrich and loved by contemporary stylistas like Sofia Coppola. Verdura’s signature bejewelled cuffs, which I’ve coveted forever, are truly one of the most sought after (and copied) pieces of jewelry ever designed.

 CEO “Ward” bought the company in 1985 and “Nico,” its president, has worked at the company since 2009. It was clear talking to these gents that the passion for fine jewelry runs in the family. Ward got the bug working at a jewelry store as a teenager, which set him on an unexpected career path for a fellow with a “blue collar New Jersey” upbringing. (“When I told my father I was going into the jewelry business, he asked me, “How are you going to make a living?’) His decades-long career included his tenure as head of the jewelry divison for Sothebys USA which brought him into the orbit of legendary jewelry lovers like Elizabeth Taylor. “Jewelry is the last talisman in today’s society,” Ward explains. “When a woman puts on a favorite piece of jewelry, whether its costume or the real thing, and her face lights up, it’s magic. There’s something very special about that, and it’s something I have always enjoyed about the business. I have a passion for it.”

Ward Landrigan, Diane Clehane and Nicholas Landrigan

Ward Landrigan, Diane Clehane and Nicholas Landrigan

‘Nico’ went to Brown and considered a career in the law while working in the Fraud Bureau of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office before joining forces with his father. “I wanted to make sure I really wanted a career in law before I actually committed to it,” recalls Nico. In the end, his path seemed all but predestined. ”From the time I was six until I was eleven, I thought what my father did was the coolest job in the world,” Nico told me. Says Ward: “On a trip to India when he spelled his name out in sapphires, I knew that was it.”

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Lunch: ‘Heroine’ Julie Menin Takes On Washington: “Move the 9/11 Trial!”

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— DIANE CLEHANE

When I met Julie Menin a few weeks ago in the Michael’s dining room and made a date for lunch, I was expecting to chat about her fabulous new show, Give and Take, which airs on Sunday night on WNBC’s NY Nonstop news channel. She’s already had Mika Brzezinski, Jane Velez Mitchell, and Barbara Corcoran as guests and is planning to chat with Annie Leibovitz on an upcoming show. Turns out we had a lot more to talk about.

In the past several weeks, Julie has been making headlines rather than reporting on them since she took up the cause of moving the trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed out of Lower Manhattan. The regulatory attorney is a strong believer in public advocacy: She founded the not-for-profit Wall Street Rising in the wake of September 11 to revitalize the neighborhood and has served as the chair of Community Board 1 since 2005. After realizing that “no elected official wanted to jump into the fray,” Julie says she had “an Aha! moment” and launched into action. She penned an op-ed for The New York Times entitled “Trial By Ferry” where she proposed Governor’s Island be considered as an alternative and has been working “24/7″ to convince elected officials that a multi-year trial would paralyze the city and effectively shut down Lower Manhattan. “No one had even done a feasibility study before deciding this would happen,” says Julie. “It was foisted on Mayor Bloomberg with no analysis.”

When Bloomberg told Julie he opposed the Governor’s Island idea because he wants to build a school and recreation center there, Julie remained undaunted and came up with three other options: West Point, Otisville Prison, and Stewart Air National Guard Base. That got the attention of The White House who, Julie says, “was looking at the issue too narrowly.” Not anymore. All indications now point to an announcement of a new venue. “It’s really a testament to what a citizen can do if they speak up and insist on having their voice heard,” says Julie. As she was explaining the campaign, former Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum stopped by our table, shook Julie’s hand, and declared, “She’s our heroine!” I asked if Julie is eyeing a run for office one day, and she didn’t rule out the possibility. “I’ll just have to see where life takes me.” Stay tuned.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Don Welsh and a table full of impressive gents including Jake Hill and Harold Shain.

2. Long time no see! Producers John Hart and Fred Zollo.

3. Former William Morris honcho Wayne Kabak, who now helms WSK Management LLC, and author Jackie Leo.

4. Mitch Kanner

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Lunch: TV Titans, Ivana Trump, & Devo!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

You never know who you’re going to meet on any given Wednesday at Michael’s. I’ve chatted with former presidents, Oscar winners, and tabloid targets who have made the usually unflappable crowd turn and stare, but it’s those unexpected, below the radar moments that are often the most fun. When GM Steve Millington introduced me to Jerry Casale of Devo, one of my favorite ’80s bands, I was delighted. Just last week, I’d just seen Pearl Jam’s cover of the group’s famous anthem, “Whip It,” on YouTube where they wore copies of those infamous yellow jumpsuits and red flowerpot hats. I asked Jerry if he’d known about the act in advance. “No, and I wished they’d told me,” he joked. “I would have been able to tell them about the hard hat holders we wore to keep our hats in place. They had to settle for those silly elastic straps under their chins.” Still, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, says Jerry. “I’ve gotten so many calls since it wound up in Rolling Stone and gone viral. It’s a lot of fun.”

Larry Kramer joined me for lunch today and was excited to tell me all about his upcoming book, Talespin, which was bought by HarperCollins earlier this fall (Freddie Friedman agented the deal). In it, Larry tackles the idea of how all businesses are grappling with “the recreation of storytelling” from publishing to retailing. The game has changed, says Larry, especially in media. He takes “the media guys” to task for “protecting the business model instead of the business.” Besides getting top executives from here and abroad to weigh in (in his reporting Larry discovered Europe was way ahead of the curve in adapting to a changing multi-platform world) — the book is a sum total of Larry’s experience in “the old and new worlds of media.” In addition to his two decades as a reporter and editor for top papers including The Washington Postand the San Francisco Examiner, Larry founded MarketWatch in 1997 and has helmed CBS Digital Media. These days, he’s consulting for a cross section of media ventures including Discovery Networks and The Weather Channel. In January, Larry will begin teaching a graduate level course at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School where some of the lectures will be Skyped in and students will be “embedded” into companies to study their strategies first hand.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Cosmo editrix Kate White with a table full of gals we didn’t get to meet.

2. Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, uber agent Ed Victor and Don Epstein of Greater Talent Network.

4. Author Ed Klein and Owen Laster

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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: Carl Bernstein: Bush ‘Straight Talk’ Book Would Sell

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Reports of the death of the power lunch are, by the looks of things at Michael’s today, most definitely premature. It will be a sure sign of the apocalypse when the regulars at 55th & Fifth stop showing up to cook up their next big move over burgers and Cobb salads. By the looks of today’s crowd, there was plenty of business being done between bites as media machers, fashion mavens and a few authors of note were deep in conversation. And, reports Michael McCarty, the joint is also jumping after dark. Leonard Lauder took over the Garden Room for a chic soiree last night, and the place is booked with plenty of parties throughout the month. “We’re very fortunate,” says Michael. “We have a very diverse and loyal clientele.” Indeed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Police commissioner Ray Kelly and Tom Kelly. No one was quite sure if these two imposing looking fellows were related, but I’m guessing not since I spotted Tom scribbling furiously in his notebook during lunch…

2. Men’s Health honcho Dave Zinczenko and Glamour editrix Cindi Leive. With all the gloom and doom that abounds and the scarcity of holiday fetes around town, I asked them what they were planning to do for their staffs to brighten spirits. Both said they were planning “very low key” get-togethers somewhere in town. “There’s going to be a pool table and bottles of beer involved,” promises Cindi. Dave also reports that Rodale will be hosting two parties — one here at the New York offices and the other at the company’s Emmaus, Pa. headquarters. No Scrooges here! I just had to ask Cindi what she thought of this morning’s item in The New York Post that she (and Linda Wells) might be in line for the top spot at Vogue should those pesky rumors (denied by Si Newhouse) that Anna Wintour is on the way out. Or, maybe her pal Dave has lured her away for the top spot at Women’s Health. (An announcement about the job is expected any day.) “I’m perfectly happy where I am,” Cindi told me.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Carl Bernstein. I told Carl that I caught All the President’s Men (which he co-wrote with Bob Woodward on the heels of their game-changing coverage of Watergate for The Washington Post all those many years ago) on TMC the other night. “How does it hold up?” he asked me. Pretty well, I told him. “It’s been years since I’ve seen it,” says Carl. I had to ask him what he thought of the reports that the soon to be ex-president wouldn’t exactly incite a bidding war for his memoirs in the months following him leaving office. Carl dismisses the notion that their would be no takers for the book. “Presidents never have difficulty getting their memoirs published,” he told me. Earlier this week, Bush told ABC News’ Charles Gibson that he was “unprepared for war” and said his “biggest regret” was the mistaken claims regarding weapons of mass that lead to the war in Iraq. So does that mean that Bush’s prospective tome might offer some introspection? “Forget introspection,” says Carl. “If he was more forthcoming about his presidency given the amount of withholding of information and level of mendacity, a little straight talk would be good.”

4. Tommy Mottola and an unidentified older gentleman

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Lunch: The Special Post-Election Edition

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The Michael’s crowd was in full party mode today as television titans, media mavens and talking heads mingled gleefully with politicos who were celebrating Barack Obama‘s historic victory. “Finally, some good news!” exclaimed one of the regulars as he made his way into the jam-packed dining room. It seemed more than a bit poetic that on the eve of Camelot 2.0 Caroline Kennedy quietly made her way to table one, avoiding all the table-hopping and glad-handing that was going on around her. If there were any disappointed John McCain supporters in the room, they were keeping a low profile. Okay, Mary Matalin made the scene with hubby James Carville but she didn’t exactly look like she was celebrating. Everyone agreed Obama’s speech last night was stirring, but one observer offered this insight to chew on: “Sure it’s exciting, but it’s going to be pretty much impossible to live up to all this hype. The guy’s gotta be feeling some pressure.” If he is, he sure is wearing it well.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Early Show: Saturday Night Live scribe James Signorelli; Second shift: Caroline Kennedy, Jimmy Buffett and his wife Jamie

2. Producer Jon Hart, Doug Steiner and another gent we didn’t get to meet…

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, producer Susan Stroman (Young Frankenstein), uber-agent Ed Victor and his gorgeous wife Carol. A little birdie told me the ‘Mayor’ will be hosting one of his legendary lunches next week. We can’t wait!

4. Gerald Schoenfeld with an unidentified gent

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Lunch: Anna Wintour & Coming Soon — The Rolling Stones!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We’re guessing that spring break with the kiddies kept more than a few bold face names we’ve become accustomed to seeing away from 55th and Fifth today. Luckily, some of our favorite regulars were on hand — along with the first ever (at least since I’ve been at my perch) Wednesday Anna Wintour sighting — kept us more than interested in the goings on in the dining room. But, we hear, the really big doings will be taking place this Sunday night when The Rolling Stones are coming to party with Martin Scorsese, who directed the documentary Shine A Light about the iconic rockers. If you haven’t gotten your invite, it probably just got lost in the mail…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Frank Gifford and his charming daughter Cassidy enjoying a pre-theater lunch before seeing The Little Mermaid (again!). I’d met Cassidy once before when mom Kathie Lee Gifford brought the incredibly well-mannered 14-year-old to Michael’s this summer. Today, father and daughter dined alone (she sipped a Shirley Temple while he flipped through what looked like a Tiffany’s catalog!) On the way out when they stopped by to say ‘Hello,’ I asked Frank when there would be word of Kathie Lee’s all but imminent arrival at Today. Putting his hands up in mock protest, he turned to his daughter and said, “Diane wants me to talk about things I can’t talk about.” But Frank, you know I’d never tell anyone …

2. William Morris’ Wayne Kabak and a pal.

3. “Mayor” Joe Armstrong, who was nice enough to introduce me to guest, longtime pal and fellow Texan Sarah Gray Miller. The dynamic duo worked together when Joe was the founding publisher of Garden Design and Saveur and Sarah, now editor-in-chief of Oprah’s O At Home, was a media maven in training. Mr. Mayor, who knows everyone, lunched yesterday at Michael’s (where else?) with another one of his favorite Texans Lance Armstrong. He said the two of them spent part of the afternoon dishing over the stunning reports that Dick Cheney is a “distant cousin” of Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton and Angelina Jolie are branches on the same family tree. Perhaps, says Joe, he and Lance are related to jazz great Louis Armstrong. To commemorate their possible kinship, the Mayor presented Lance with a mini statue of their may be ancestor. Between bites of his burger, Lance howled with laughter. “We love to laugh,” says Joe who is off to Texas to visit his mom Dorthadele. See you when you get back!

4. Über agent Ed Victor (looking quite literary in a black turtleneck and jacket) with Alan Grubman.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Wesley Clark & A Model Mystery

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgWe missed Jane Fonda by a day. Today’s lunch crowd was lacking the star power we’ve come to expect on our weekly visits so while we were disappointed our usual perch at the bar had been usurped by an unidentified exec, we didn’t miss much from our less than stellar seat a few stools down. We were, though, happy to spot our pal Jack Kliger. Lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane chatted up the Hachette honcho about the latest celebrity implosion that’s got everyone buzzing — the Rosie O’Donnell trainwreck that left the station at Monday’s Matrix Awards and crashed and burned with today’s surprise announcement that she is leaving The View in mid-June due to a reported contract dispute.

Kliger was among the stunned crowd of media elite that had to suffer through O’Donnell’s profane performance as emcee of the event that had her soon to be ex-boss Barbara Walters laying her face in her hands from her seat on the dais alongside such luminaries as Hillary Clinton and Arianna Huffington. “It was absolutely disgusting,” he said, adding that the editors from Woman’s Day and other Hachette books at his table were equally sickened by the comedian’s performance. The veteran magazine executive, who knows a thing or two about working with celebrities (remember George?), says it was O’Donnell’s ill-fated stint helming her own magazine was the “turning point” against launching further titles with stars moonlighting as editors. “We’ve learned that you can cover celebrities without giving celebrities their own magazine.” For every Oprah, says Kliger, there are scores of over-inflated egos and Hollywood headcases that are deluded into thinking they can run a magazine. “I was getting at least a proposal week,” he recalls of those days when O’Donnell was still masquerading as “The Queen of Nice.” Everyone from Jennifer Lopez to Jane Pauley(“she was talking to everyone”) was interested in adding the title of editor-in-chief to their resumes — with no personal investment, of course, he recalls. Long before the 2,000 attendees of Matrix witnessed what seemed like O’Donnell’s latest effort at career suicide, Kliger told fellow publishing bigwigs they were crazy to tie their bottom line to the star. “She’s a time bomb.” No kidding.

The rest of the crowd:

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