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Posts Tagged ‘Jackie Rogers’

Lunch: Hoda Kotb & Bravo’s Housewives Hold Court

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was SRO at Michael’s today, and although the place was filled to the brim with movers and shakers of every stripe, all eyes were on table one: Today‘s Hoda Kotb presided over a raucous lunch with a trio of Real Housewives from Bravo’s compulsively watchable franchise. Tongues wagged aplenty as the crowd watched the reality TV stars saunter in. First to arrive was Tamra Barney (Orange County) with her husband Simon, followed by NeNe Leakes (Atlanta). Danielle Straub (New Jersey) was, of course, the last to arrive — all the better to make a grand entrance. The gals have been guest-hosting Today‘s fourth hour this week, filling in for the vacationing Kathie Lee Gifford.

I just had to make my way over to their table to chat with the headline-making Danielle, who just last night precipitated a catfight for the ages on the season finale of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. As faithful fans of the series know, Danielle’s former life as a stripper who ran with a bad crowd was chronicled in Cop Without A Badge, written, she says, by an ex-husband more than two decades ago. Since then, Danielle reinvented herself and settled in suburbia hoping to keep the past buried. Lucky for Bravo, her frenemies on the show discovered her story, and the fur started flying. Last night, things came to a head when Danielle confronted the other Housewives about their role in bringing the long-forgotten tome to town.

I asked Danielle if the Sopranos-style last supper where everyone gathered for a ‘friendly’ dinner had been staged. “Of course,” she said. “Why else would I have been invited?” Things got really ugly when Teresa Giudice started letting the profanities fly in front of Danielle’s two young daughters and the group ganged up on her. Despite putting up a strong front, Danielle told me the episode “ripped her apart” and afterward, she and her girls retreated to her home where they stayed curled up in her bed for a few days. “We were sick from it, and it was the one place we felt safe.” But, like the tough survivor she is, the breakout star of the series is back with a vengeance with plans to write a book (“It will be something empowering to help women”) and is being repped by Maura Teitelbaum at Abrams Artists Agency. According to Danielle, her daughters have adjusted to the limelight nicely. Her eldest, Christine, is fielding offers from modeling agencies, including Elite. And get this — she says if Bravo wants a second season, she’s there. “Oh my God, of course I’d do it!”

I was glad I was lunching today with my new friend Dr. Phillip Romero, who specializes in family and couple’s therapy. Phil is currently hard at work on two books, Phantom Stress and The Art of Impermanence. I asked him why we like to watch these reality shows that are such spectacles of dysfunction. “It’s voyeurism that makes us feel better about ourselves,” says Phil. These days when “our collective anxiety is higher than at any other time in human history” because of the “sweeping changes occurring at all levels of society” Phil says these shows offer a diversion, “a media quick fix” that takes our mind off the serious issues at hand. Makes sense to me.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Today‘s Hoda Kotb, producer Tammy Filler, Bravo’s Real Housewives NeNe Leakes, Tamra Barney (with husband Simon), and Danielle Straub.

2. Andrew Stein with a distinguished dark-haired gent we didn’t recognize

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Glamour editrix Cindi Leive rocking a LBD and pearls. Joe tells me he’s off to Cuba on a ‘humanitarian mission’ for a few weeks. Safe travels, and we’ll see you when you return!

4. Esther Newberg and Jeffrey Toobin. We caught Jeff on CNN the other day deconstructing the effect of David Letterman‘s joke about Sarah Palin‘s daughter. While the other pundits debated whether the former vice presidential nominee’s daughters were fair game, Jeff weighed in by saying he thought Letterman crossed the line by calling Governor Palin’s look ‘slutty.’ Chivalry is not dead after all…

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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: Dishing With Dolly Parton

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Sure, it’s fun checking in with the media mavens and moguls during our weekly Wednesday outings at Michael’s, but sometimes it’s the random celebrity sighting that can be the most entertaining. When I heard that Dolly Parton was coming today, I was really looking forward to chatting with her. I first sat down with her and Jane Fonda way back when there was some big anniversary for her breakthrough film, 9 to 5. Of all the celebrities I’ve interviewed over the years, Dolly was by far one of the least pretentious. The hair, the outrageous outfits, the nails — the boobs — it’s all part of a perfectly calibrated persona that is as compelling today as it was back then.

When she arrived in the dining room, every head turned. Trust me, she’s like no one you’ve ever seen. At 63, she looked like a living doll with her expertly made-up ageless face, Barbie doll suit (paired with sheer black leggings), that famous platinum mane, and shoes that no other human being could possibly walk in. When I stopped her to chat, she gave me a big smile and grabbed my hand. “Of course I remember you!” she drawled when I explained when we last spoke. I almost believed her — she’s that genuine. When I asked her how things were going with 9 to 5 set to debut on Broadway next week (she wrote 40 songs for the show; 16 made it into the production), she said, “We’re working like crazy just tweaking little things until we get it right. We’re working ’til midnight. I’m really enjoying myself!” Then she sailed in to meet her producer Bob Greenblatt (Showtime’s president), Matt Blank and the rest of her table.

I was dining today with my good pal Kathryn Leigh Scott, who is one of the most prolific women I know. She’s written so many books I’ve lost count (and is currently working on two — one fiction and one nonfiction). But her really big news involves the article she’s penned on “the star and the stalker” for Opera News, due out in August. Kathryn has left no stone unturned in the account of the downside of divadom, which chronicles the complicated and chilling relationship between legendary opera star Birgit Nilsson and her stalker, model Nell Theobald. Kathryn uncovers some startling details in her report, which has attracted the attention of some Hollywood bigwigs: “There’s some interest in the dramatic rights,” Kathryn tells me. Like they say in Tinseltown, stay tuned…

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Dolly Parton, Showtime’s Matt Blank and Bob Greenblatt and Lee Resnick. There was also an imposing looking fellow at the table who, from the looks of things, keeps things running smoothly for Dolly. I’m guessing you wouldn’t want to mess with him…

2. The first lady of New York, Michelle Paterson, and Jackie Rogers. For the moment, at least, it seems as if her husband’s dismal poll numbers weren’t top of mind: We spotted Michelle yukking it up as she enjoyed some white wine with her friend.

3. Dan Abrams and CNBC’s Brian Steel (Glad to hear you’re a ‘Lunch’ loyalist!)

4. Expectant father Les Moonves (congrats!) and Viacom’s Philippe Dauman. When Michael McCarty offered the television titan a hearty greeting of “Dad!” Les looked a little sheepish and uttered, “I’m an old man.” What’s that old saying about kids keeping you young? Please extend our congratulations to the missus, Julie Chen.

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