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Posts Tagged ‘Gerry Imber’

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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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.

Lunch: Liz Smith, Frank Langella & A Bevy of Social Swans

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The streets may be eerily empty these days (at least you can always get a cab), but you can pretty much count on a full house on Wednesdays at Michael’s. Today the dining room was buzzing as media mavens and a fair share of fashionistas made the scene. Before things really got going, I checked in with ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, who is keeping good thoughts for his pal Robin Williams as he undergoes heart surgery. It was Joe, you may recall, who first brought Robin to Michael’s all those years ago for a lunch with Bill Clinton, which made headlines far and wide and even wound up being discussed on David Letterman. Here’s hoping one of our favorite funnymen makes a full and quick recovery.

Today I was lunching with Dorian Benkoil, mediabistro.com’s former editorial director and the man who first asked me to do this column. Dorian has a very full plate these days helming his own company, Teeming Media. He’s hosting an online show, Naked Media, broadcast monthly on NakedMedia.org, and recently had Businessweek.com’s Jon Byrne and Howard Lindzon, co-founder of Stockwits and Wallstrip, as guests. At the moment, Dorian is hard at work producing a seminar entitled “Finance for Media Professionals” to be held on March 23. If you want to check out the details for this timely talk, go to TeemingMedia.com.

I was happy to see regulars Kira Semler and Vi Huse (‘the bar-ettes’) having their monthly champagne lunch at the bar. I only wish that Kira had told me about her letter to the New York Post (which they printed) bemoaning the paper’s decision to stop publishing Liz Smith‘s column. (She showed it to me when we were all on our way out the door.) I would have loved to have introduced Liz to such an ardent fan. Oh well, next time…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The New Yorker‘s David Remnick, publisher Lisa Hughes and Cartier’s Frederic de Narp with a few members of his incredibly chic staff.

2. My new Facebook friend Terry Allen Kramer with Broadway producers James Neiderlander and Rob Greenblatt

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and The Hallmark Channel’s honcho Henry Schleiff. I had to go over and tell Henry that I’m loving those Saturday night made-for-TV movies on his network (What can I say? I have a four-year-old and don’t get out much). Henry told me he’s particularly excited about this week’s offering, Relative Stranger, starring Eriq La Salle, Cicely Tyson and Michael Michele, about a football player who leaves his family and years later returns to make amends. It premieres Saturday night at 8 p.m. I’m in! And, for all you fans of I Love Lucy and The Golden Girls reruns (Come on, confess, I know you’re out there) Hallmark is now home to these television gems. You’re welcome…

4. Liz Smith and Frank Langella (who gallantly got up and offered to pull out Liz’s chair — chivalry is not dead! Liz and I chatted before Mr. Langella’s arrival (he’s just too imposing to call Frank) and she told me now that she’s made the move to the Internet writing for her Website wowOwow.com (check it out, it’s addictive), she’s “trying to pump up her sources.” Aren’t we all?

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Lunch: Tina Brown & Barbara Walters Break Bread; Jonathan Wald Works The Room

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It’s a little disconcerting these days when no matter where you go in the city, the streets seem quieter than usual, and there are 10 cabs lined up outside Grand Central any time we need one. But we’ve observed an interesting phenomenon: The worse the economic news, the busier the scene at Michael’s during our weekly Wednesday visits. The dining room was abuzz with plenty of glad handing and table-hopping, and the mood, despite all the gloom and doom out there, was downright jovial. “It’s a bit of escapism,” one regular confided to me. “There’s no doubt things are bad, but people have to be out there now more than ever, so you might as well enjoy yourself for a couple of hours.” I certainly did today as I was joined at the bay by my friend and former boss Susan Malinowski, brand ‘incubator’ and licensing/marketing guru who has some big deals brewing. (I’m sworn to secrecy.) We practically got whiplash keeping track of all the goings-on. So come out from under your desk and get out there and network. You never know who you’re going to meet over a Cobb salad.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Bonnie Timmerman presiding over a full table of guests including Claudia Peltz

2. Peter Brown and Shirley Lord

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Quest‘s Chris Meigher

4. Michael J. Wolfe

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Lunch: Special Post-Inauguration Edition

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The mood was festive at Michael’s today, with plenty of Obama buttons on display and lots of talk about the president’s stirring inaugural address. Jack Kliger told me, “I thought the whole thing was inspiring. His speech was terrific.” Jack had a good laugh about Barack Obama‘s heartfelt thanks to George W. Bush for his “years of service,” only to then turn around and basically rip the departing administration to shreds — in the nicest possible way. A speech for the ages, indeed.

While everyone agreed the president was near perfection in every possible way, the verdict was somewhat mixed on the First Lady’s fashion sense. A few media mavens told me they were less than thrilled with Michelle Obama‘s Isabel Toledo dress and coat (“A little dowdy,” sniped one stylista), but gave her higher marks for her Jason Wu ivory gown. I admit, I didn’t love the “lemongrass” lace daytime look at first, but by day’s end it had grown on me. I will say that Sasha and Malia looked darling in their custom J.Crew Crewcuts coats. When my good pal Fern Mallis, looking sleek and chic in her Tracy Reese Obama shirt, stopped at the bar for a chat, I asked her what she thought about Michelle’s fashion choices for the big day. “I’d give her a 10,” said Fern. “I could not think of a better ambassador for the fashion industry right now. She looked great.”

Today I was lunching with Lisa Silhanek and Justin Brown, CEO of First Global Xpress. Lisa, who knows everyone in the fashion biz, is working with Justin as his relationship manager, helping to broaden the business within the industry. Justin, whose clients include HBO, ICM and Conde Nast, has built an impressive business (that will be profiled in next month’s Business Week and the March issue of Inc.) by catering to companies that care about reducing their carbon footprint with smart shipping that lops off miles using direct flights. And, perhaps just as important, Justin says: “We deal with divas very well.” He’s shipped everything from a helicopter (New York to Eastern Europe) to Marilyn Monroe’s velvet headboard bought at auction by an adoring fan, so chances are he can handle whatever daunting task Seventh Avenue can serve up.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Imber Gang: Dr. Gerry Imber, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman and Jerry Della Femina. I asked Jerry about the awful news about the demise of Full Frontal Fashion. His wife, the tireless Judy Licht, made the show a must-see for fashionistas and civilians alike with its wall-to-wall coverage of Fashion Week. (Truth be told, I’ve skipped a show or two knowing that I could watch the whole shebang from my living room without having to battle the crowds). “It’s true,” reports Jerry. “But Judy has a lot of things going and will be covering Fashion Week for The Huffington Post.” You heard it here first, folks. Smart move, Arianna.

2. Peggy Siegal dining with a mystery gal. Clever Peggy ordered her lunch in advance so as not to waste a minute.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and uber-agent Ed Victor

4. Jack Kliger, Tom Donahue and a gent named Nick, so we’re told.

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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: Barry Diller, Jeff Zucker & The Magazine Mob

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— DIANE CLEHANE

What recession? The usual power quotient found on any given Wednesday at Michael’s went into overdrive today as the gals at the front desk had so many media moguls, magazine mavens and talking heads lining up to dine and dish today, they had to shoehorn in extra tables all over the dining room. Luckily, I scored some prime real estate for my lunch with my old pal Jeffrey Slonim and new-found friend Bettina Zilkha. Jeffrey and I have stood side by side on many a red carpet over the years and have bonded over the histrionics that goes with covering A-list events. These days Jeffrey is busier than ever as Interview‘s society editor (a prestigious gig once held by Truman Capote!) and Allure‘s special correspondent where he fearlessly asks all those publicity shy celebs questions we all really want to ask (bedtime rituals, what they really eat after parties — that sort of thing). It was nice to see him out in daylight. Bettina was recently named Special Projects Editor for Elle Decor and has a fascinating profile of designer Dennis Basso in this month’s Avenue. We had a lively lunch trading stories about Gotham’s gadflys we all know and love (all off the record, sorry to say). I can’t wait until to our next get together.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Crooner Steve Tyrellwith Frank and Jamie McCord (owners of the LA Dodgers, in case you were wondering), James McBride (the GM of The Carlyle where Steve is performing through New Year’s Eve) and my good pal Amy Rosenblum.

2. Peter Brown

3. Jim Abernathy and Dawn Bridges

4. Barry Diller and the Financial TimesChrystia Freeland who was warding off today’s chill with a killer fur hat. Fab!

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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: The British Are Coming — Tomorrow!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We’re still exhausted from hob nobbing with last week’s overflow of A-listers, so we were almost glad things were a bit more subdued at 55th & Fifth today. It gave us a chance to catch up and chat with some our favorite regulars. Imagine my chagrin when I stopped by Matt Blank‘s table and Showtime’s CEO told me had I switched my weekly reservation to tomorrow, I’d be chatting with some of the biggest stars of his network. On Thursday, Matt and entertainment president Bob Greenblatt are hosting their own “British invasion” at table one when the entire glorious cast of The Tudors — the dreamy Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Peter O’Toole and Natalie Dormer will be breaking bread with the network’s other stars — including Tracy Ullman, whose show State of the Union, will premiere March 30, the same night as the new season of The Tudors. Thank God, something to watch! (I’ve been completely depressed over the fast approaching season finale of HBO’s In Treatment…) Also in attendance, says Matt, will be Billie Piper, who stars in — and we’re not kidding — the upcoming Secret Diaries of a Call Girl, which will premiere in June. Talk about timely. Perhaps the newly unemployed Eliot Spitzer can make a cameo appearance.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Gerry Imber, Jerry Della Femina and the gang with Fox News’ Monica Crowley.

2. Showtime’s chairman and CEO Matt Blank with über producer Michael Davies.

3. “Mayor” Joe Armstrong and Glamoureditrix Cindi Leive (Glad you hear you’re a loyal “Lunch” reader!). The Mayor was celebrating with his friend Cindi over a glass of red wine — and a few asparagus spears — about her big news. Minutes before lunch, Cindi found out Glamour is a finalist for the fourth year in a row for the National Magazine Award for General Excellence. No woman’s magazine has ever been so honored! The worthy competitors: Time, People, National Geographic and Martha Stewart Living. Congrats! Before Cindi and Joe tucked into their lunch, we unanimously decided New York‘s Spitzer cover this week is one for the ages. Brilliant!

4. Norman Pearlstine and a young gent no one seemed to know …

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Lunch: Captain Picard, I Presume?

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Between the heinous weather that has us nursing what must be walking pneumonia, a deadly dull award season (Does anybody really care about the Oscars without the parties?) and some mind-numbingly bad television we’ve been forced to endure (What the hell happened to Nip/Tuck?), we were yearning for some excitement today at 55th & Fifth. Alas, there was nary a bold-face name in sight. Except for a delightfully random celebrity sighting — Patrick Stewart, looking quite collegiate in a grey crewneck sweater — we loved you in A Christmas Carol! — things were pretty much business as usual in the dining room. The staff, though, was abuzz that none other than Captain Picard had landed in the dining room.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Showtime’s Stu Zakim hosting his “bi-monthly guy’s lunch.” In attendance: ABC’s Jeff Schneider, recruiter Arnie Huberman, SIRIUS’ Patrick Riley and Portfolio‘s Jeff Bercovici. I congratulated Jeff on tapping into the zeitgeist in yesterday’s Mixed Media column where he reported on the tipping point that seems to indicate some — but clearly not all — in the media seem to be having a (slight) attack of conscience when it comes to reporting 24/7 on the sad spectacle of Britney Spears’ alleged mental illness. Jeff emailed the editors of the celebrity weeklies to weigh in on the subject but only People‘s managing editor Larry Hackett responded. Larrys take: the whole thing has Day of The Locust feel to it, but in the unlikely event the media did back off, it’s “presumptuous” to assume the fallen pop star would finally start to get well. I agree. (Full disclosure: I am a People contributor). Interestingly, there’s also a piece in today’s USA Today that reports — duh! — “Britney’s collapse: Media not helping.” The collective sense among journos that cover celebrities and the business of celebrity that this story is going to end badly is palpable. The question is: how will those that have been the beneficiaries of the Britney media bonanza cover the final chapter of this tale? Us Weekly reported last month that AP has already written Spears’ obit. Remember when Princess Diana died and George Clooney held a press conference to blame the tabloid media for her death? Is there anyone besides Heidi Klum, who has said that Brit can come and live with her and Seal until she gets her life together, that can actually do anything to alter Spears’ collision course with tabloid infamy before its too late? George, are you busy?

2. Producer Jon Hart, who predicts a “low key” Oscars on Sunday, with two business-types we didn’t recognize …

3. Katherine Oliver celebrating her birthday with a table full of pals including Lisa Dallos and Chris Taylor.

4. Gerald Schoenfeld & Candia Fisher.

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Lunch At Michael’s: Barry Diller, Bob Iger & The Literary Lioness Club

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— DIANE CLEHANE

For those who like their cobb salads served up with a side order of adrenaline, 55th & Fifth was the place to be today. Media moguls and literary lionesses convened their cliques for some lively conversation that kept the dining room buzzing. Esther Newberg and Anna Quindlen enjoyed lively conversation with ABC’s Lynn Scherr and Faye Wattleton in one corner, while NBA commissioner David Stern and Disney honcho Bob Iger kept a much lower profile in the back. The sighting of the power pair set tongues wagging about this morning’s New York Times story that Stern is forming a Chinese subsidiary with some help from a yet to be announced multi-media partner. Has Mickey got game? Stay tuned …

I was lunching with my good pal Chris Madden. The lifestyle maven is everywhere these days: on the cover of Your Good House (her new magazine produced in partnership with Hearst), in her charming ads for her furniture line with JCPenney and in last week’s Home section of The New York Times. The tireless Ms. Madden is celebrating her 30th year in business next Wednesday at a party at the Gramercy Park Hotel in their oh-so-chic rooftop garden. (Massive goodie bag alert!) Cathie Black, Ellen Levine, Random House’s Chip Gibson and jazz man Steve Tyrell are on the guest list. “It’s all gone by so fast!” says Chris, who started out as a publicist for Random House before breaking out on her own and parlaying her eye for all things fabulous into a far-flung empire encompassing a design business (Oprah, Katie Couric and Toni Morrison have been clients), 16 books, an eight-year run on HGTV and her ever-expanding home furnishings line. Chris has always been a believer that those who do well should do good as well and as such, spent much of last spring in Mississippi where she donated the contents of her Vermont warehouse filled with furniture to help survivors of the Hurricane Katrina rebuild their homes.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Lynn Scherr, Esther Newberg, Faye Wattleton (who left her trench coat on during lunch) and Anna Quinlan.

2. Peter Brown & Jonathan Alter.

3. Ed Rollins and a distinguished looking gent…

4. Jay Cross and Steve Greenberg.

5. A smiling (!?) Barry Diller with an unidentified guest. We’re intrigued by the fact that no one ever seems to know the name of the taciturn Mr. Diller’s lunch guests…

6. Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina, Gerry Imber and pals.

7. We’re not sure and neither was anyone else…

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