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Posts Tagged ‘Gordon Davis’

Meg Ryan and Judith Regan “Below the Radar” on Table One

1003_mockup.gifThe spring power lunch season has officially begun at Michael’s with plenty of famous faces and talking heads (Charles Grodin, Star Jones, Lawrence O’Donnell) mixed in with the usual suspects today. None other than Meg Ryan turned up with Judith Regan and slipped in practically unnoticed. Ah, but it’s my job to tell you these things.

In the ‘six degrees of separation’ world that is the dining room at 55th and Fifth, Judith and I grew up in the same hometown of Bay Shore on Long Island. Her mother was often my substitute teacher in high school, and we’ve always had interesting chats whenever our paths have crossed. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the famously fiery ex-book publisher and she told me she’s adapted a new approach of “staying well below the radar” while working on her Sirius XM show. “No one even knows where I live,” she said. I knew better than to question the strategy of staying out of the limelight by sitting at Table One on a Wednesday at Michael’s, so we talked about mutual friends and exchanged pleasantries about our families. When Meg showed up, she couldn’t have been nicer as we chatted about our daughters who we adopted from China the same year, are the same age and both wear glasses. (Sorry, but it’s all OTR.) Later, on the way out, we talked a bit more and I suspected she had plenty more to say on the subject but didn’t want to get caught it the crush of folks lining up for their coats. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

I was joined today by Stu Zakim, public relations vet and “transformational executive” (How’s that for a title?) Mike Berman. Stu, a veteran marketing guru who has helped shaped the image of Showtime, Universal Pictures and Wenner Media, struck out on his own in 2010 with his own firm, Bridge Strategic Communications. His current clients include the Montclair Film Festival, now in its second year, and Mike, a turnaround specialist and business blogger who dispenses straightforward strategies on his blog, Berman Means Business. Stu has been working with Mike since last fall to extend the reach of his no-nonsense messaging espousing a holistic approach to building businesses. With recent headlines on media mash-ups and corporate meltdowns, we had plenty to talk about. Since Mike penned his first piece for CNBC’s website entitled “Five Turnaround Tips for Ron Johnson, JC Penney and Others” earlier this week, I thought a discussion about JCP’s embattled CEO was a good place to start. In a nutshell, says Mike, Johnson “was set up to fail — he can’t fix Penney’s.”

Mike Berman, Diane Clehane and Stu Zakim

He explains, “What’s happening with Ron Johnson is a metaphor for what’s wrong with business today. You can’t hire a rock star as if he’s just come down from the mountain top with the solution to every problem. No one person is able to do what he’s saying he can do.” According to Mike, Johnson’s first mistake was expecting an already beaten down team to buy into widespread change without first stabilizing the organization and clearly articulating a long term vision for the future. Letting 10,000 people go among a shell-shocked workforce didn’t help matters, either. “In the classic turnaround, you can be a hero by coming in and reducing staff, closing under performing stores or factories for the short-term, but in the long-term that doesn’t create value and kills the economy. Executives have to ask themselves, ‘How can I make sacrifices for the benefit of the entity?” Because so many companies rely on the slash-and-burn strategy as an immediate solution to stem the bleeding of their bottom line, Mike tells me he no longer works on “classic turnarounds” because he finds them “totally souless.” Now there’s something you don’t hear every day.

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Joe Kernen Settles a Bet, Plus the Return of Michael Wolff

1003_mockup.gifThreats of yet another winter storm (We’re begging for mercy!) didn’t keep the faithful from Michael’s today. In fact, the dining room was even more crowded than usual as some of the city’s biggest hot shots cooled their heels at the bar and in the lounge as they waited to be seated among the power brokers and media mavens. There was plenty of air kisses and glad handing among the talking heads (Joe Kernen, Rosanna Scotto), television titans (Matt Blank, Henry Schleiff) and fashionable folk (Julie Macklowe). After all, what’s the point of having a power lunch in this town if the right people aren’t there to see it — or write about it? Happy to oblige.

PR maven extraordinaire Catherine Saxton, who has represented some of Manhattan’s most well known swells (and how do you think they got that way?) invited me to join an eclectic and energetic group for lunch today. I was seated between Khashy Eyn and Daniel Hedaya of Platinum Properties and nearly got whiplash as I listened to these real estate wunderkinds regale me with tales of their incredible success since launching their firm in 2005. (Khashy, the firm’s CEO and co-founder, is 31 and Daniel, the president, is all of 26.)  Khashy, who has been in real estate since he was a teenager, came to the United States from Iran when his family fled during the revolution. Daniel, who grew up in Great Neck, dropped out of culinary school before landing a job at a boutique brokerage firm.  Khashy and his sister, co-founder and COO Dezireh Eyn (“The brains of the operation,” says Khashy), launched the company and later tapped Daniel to join them.

(Left to Right) Daniel Hedaya, Diane Clehane, Khashy Eyn, Christian Giovanni Curato, Catherine Saxton and Vicki Downey

Daniel, who will appear in episode seven of  the new season of HG-TV’s Selling New York, told me high rollers and regular folk get the same stellar treatment from the firm.  ”Whether our company is working with a client looking for a $2,500 rental or someone selling a $50 million property, we provide the same level of service. It is very important to us that everyone of our clients receive the same high level of concierge service from us. Manhattan real estate is unlike other markets in the country where the agents handle so many parts of a transaction. Here, we sell or rent the property, negotiate the deal and turn it over to an attorney. But many of our clients want us to handle everything and we do.”

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Harvey Weinstein Leads the Movie Mogul Charge

1003_mockup.gif Any Michael’s regular worth his or her weight in Cobb salad knows that on any given Wednesday you can find the who’s who of media in the dining room. Today we spotted a talking head (Andrew Ross Sorkin) and bestselling authors (Linda Fairstein, Karin Slaughter) but were really struck by the Hollywood on the Hudson feel of today’s lunch. Everywhere you looked there were movie moguls (Who’s hotter than Harvey Weinstein at this moment?) and studio suits breaking bread with money men (read: possible investors), we’re sure, in hopes of cooking up some big deal. We’ve noticed that there is an increasing number of movie moguls (both real and the wannabe variety) making the scene on Wednesday lately, which may account for the marked uptick in glad handing and air kissing.

I was just about to sit down with my lunch date, producer Thierry Daher to talk about his new film, God Save My Shoes and the film’s publicist Miriam Driot when producer Beverly Camhe came over to introduce me to Shawn Bercuson who, she noted, “was the talk of Sundance.” It turns out that Shawn, one of the original members of the team that started Groupon, launched a new site last year  perfect for the new ways we watch movies. Prescreen.com is a curated video on demand platform designed to promote and showcase premium content. Shawn tells me the site is the first to provide long form premium content through Facebook Open Graph intergration in the U.S. When he was at Sundance, he discovered there was no platform for aggregating the festival’s trailers and viola! Now there is. When I introduced him to Thierry, they had plenty to talk about, and by the time the group adjourned to our respective tables everyone had each other’s business cards. Who needs Los Angeles?

I was eager to hear the story behind Thierry’s latest documentary which explores the fascinating relationship between women and their shoes. His previous release, Just for Kicks, explored the sneaker phenomena and the origins of Nike Air Force One and Air Jordans. “It’s not the athletes that make these shoes so popular,” Thierry told me of his discovery. “It’s the hip hop and rap stars.” To wit: Just For Kicks featured Reverend Run, Missy Elliot and Grandmaster Caz. In light of the fact that this was his second documentary on footwear, I just had to ask him  if he had some kind of a foot fetish. Nope, he said. “I’m very curious about other people’s obsessions.” As a recovering Manolo Blahnik addict, I was more than intrigued. Its turns out the idea for God Save My Shoes came to Thierry while he was making Just For Kicks. When he learned that Damon Dash owned hundreds of pairs of sneakers, the thought occurred to him: If this is what the guys have in their closets, God only knows what their wives own. Clearly, he was on to something.

Diane Clehane, Thierry Daher and Miriam DroIt
Diane Clehane, Thierry Daher and Miriam Driot

Thierry told me he spent a year writing the film’s treatment during which time he unearthed just about anything ever written on the subject and sought out women to bare their soles. The film features interviews with Kelly Rowland, Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas and Dita Von Teese who bare all about their devotion to shoes. Celebrated poker player Beth Shak, who owns over 1,000 pairs, opened up her extraordinary closet.  He also features another ‘star’ who was literally born to wear high heels: Barbie. (I won’t spoil it for you, but you’ve just got to watch). Designers Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik weigh in on their cult following and the curious bond between women and shoes.

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Jon Meacham, Desiree Gruber And A Squadron of Spinmeisters

1003_mockup.gif— DIANE CLEHANE

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: On Wednesdays, all roads lead to Michael’s. Exhibit A: This week, one of my best friends from Bay Shore High School, Scot Safon, was featured in a New York Times piece by mediabistro.com alum Brian Stelter. So I was thrilled to catch up with Scott when he walked into the dining room this afternoon on his way to meet Fortune‘s Pattie Sellers (one of his best friends from college).

Scot’s come a long way from his days as one of the editors of our school newspaper, The Maroon Echo. Having risen through the ranks at Turner, he is now helming CNN sister network HLN and shepherding shows headlined by Nancy Grace, Joy Behar, Dr. Drew Pinsky and Jane Velez-Mitchell. The Times piece chronicled HLN’s runaway ratings thanks to their coverage of Casey Anthony‘s headline-grabbing murder trial. As Scot sees it, the trial “has so many layers” for his stable of talent to explore as they relate to each host’s area of expertise. As Nancy continues to hold “tot mom” Casey’s feet to the fire seeking  ”justice for [Anthony's late daughter] Caylee,” Dr. Drew explores the myriad psychological issues unearthed during testimony. On their respective shows, Joy and Jane chew over the day’s events and keep viewers up to the minute on all the developments. “It is a fascinating case that has viewers riveted,” says Scot. “It’s a once in a lifetime trial.” (That is, at least until the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray starts in September.)

I was joined today by Fidelis Global’s Gerry Byrne, and we had a terrific chat about the state of the media business. Gerry, who has run an incredible stable of publications including Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, is involved in a head spinning number of projects these days that cross all platforms. He recently added the role of managing partner at Black Ocean, a diversified media holdings company launched by Oliver Ripley, founding partner of the UK-based Ocean Group, and Tremor Media founder Andrew Reis. Gerry also hosts monthly ‘Influencer’ lunches with Hollywoodlife.com’s Bonnie Fuller. (He sits on the board of its parent company, Penske Media.)

Having presided over so many print titles during their heyday, Gerry says he’s invigorated by the “wild west of digital opportunities” he and his partners have discovered, and created, online. His belief that companies that own the next generation’s digital paths will be the big winners going forward is keeping him thinking big and moving forward. “The consumer is king!” says Gerry. “Long live the consumer!”

1.  A trio of ladies who launch: public relations maven Christine Taylor, producer Desiree Gruber and Katherine Oliver, commissioner of The Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting.

2. Socialite Sugar Rautbord just in from Chicago — with two gal pals

3. Thomson Reuters’ global head of PR Jolie Hunt, looking terribly chic in all white

4. Uber agent Esther Newberg, at her usual perch with Random House EVP Jon Meacham

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Lunch: Michael Douglas Turns Heads; Rudy & Judy Giuliani Go Low Profile

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I got an early Christmas present at Michael’s today when I got the chance to chat with one of my favorite actors, Michael Douglas, who has been something of a regular in the dining room this fall since coming back to town to film Wall Street 2. When the Oscar winner arrived and strode purposefully to his table, every head in the place turned. Unlike plenty of A-listers who can barely conceal their impatience for having to deal with mere mortals, he couldn’t have been more gracious when I went over to say hello.

A few years ago, we worked together on The Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars where he presented an award to designer Nino Cerruti His then-fiancee, now his wife, Catherine Zeta Jones, was also there to present to glamour guys Mark Badgley and James Mischka. When I told him the paps are still raking it in from the images taken then of the glam couple on the red carpet, he just laughed. “How is Nino?” he asked before I could ask him about his work on Wall Street 2. When the conversation finally turned to the highly anticipated sequel, I got the scoop on what we can expect from the story and his character, the Machiavellian money man Gordon Gekko. “It was very exciting and a lot of fun to be back. He’s been in prison so he’s a lot darker now, and he’s written a book about the financial world,” said Michael. “It’s set in 2007, so it’s about his predictions on what’s going to happen. It’s very interesting.” Is greed still good? We’re guessing not.

I’ve gotten to meet lots of interesting folks since I first began reporting on the scene at Michael’s three years ago and there’s none nicer than Ira Yoffe, who joined me for lunch today to talk about his exciting new venture. After spending 29 years with Parade — the last nine as vice president, creative director, and head of its in-house advertising agency — Ira is striking out on his own. He’s launching Yoffe Media Group in January because, he says, the time has never been better for entrepreneurial creative businesses. “Last fall, when budgets were being cut, money on creative was one of the first things to go. This is the time to re-invest in promoting your product.” Ira plans to run his “virtual agency” without costly overhead by putting together creative teams comprised of talented freelancers wherever they may be. On Friday, he’ll be inking a partnership deal with Rosica Strategic Public Relations. “There is no need for talent and creativity to be limited by location or the limits of outdated technology,” he told me. “Now, more than ever before, it’s possible for clients to benefit from work that is being produced by the best and the brightest in the world.” He expects that his agency-without-walls philosophy will result in “a better quality of work” and the ability to “pass the savings on to the client.” Sounds like a winning strategy to us.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Late arriving producer Joel Silver and a table full of holiday revelers including, we hear, his wife and son.

2. Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Don Welsh (Long time no see!)

4. The New York Observer’s resident newlywed Jared Kushner (Mazel tov!) and Steve Rubenstein

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