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Posts Tagged ‘Rick Kaplan’

Woody Johnson, Jared Kushner and a Haute New Hollywood Handbag Designer

LunchAtMichaelsSince so many media mavens and talking heads have headed to the West Coast for Oscar week, my lunch today with designer Michelle Vale was particularly timely. Just a few days ago, Michelle sent off several of her handbags to LaLa land in hopes that a certain Best Actress nominee will walk down the red carpet carrying one of her creations come Sunday night. If the actress, whose name for the moment is top secret (“But she’s a big Oscar person!”) utters Michelle’s name when she is asked the million dollar question of the night — “Who are you wearing?” — by E!’s Giuliana Rancic, that could mean very big things for the designer. “You never know what’s going to happen,” Michelle told me. “An actress can pick a dress and change her mind at the last minute. She can look in her suitcase and pick up something else. I won’t know until I see her on television.”

Diane Clehane and Michelle Vale

Diane Clehane and Michelle Vale

No stranger to the celebrity scene, Michelle’s collection of sophisticated, versatile designs that allow women to customize their bags by selecting a variety of  different hardware and straps  — all made right her in New York City — have been worn by Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz, Kate Bosworth and Kate Beckinsale. Michelle also managed to score valuable television exposure on Gossip Girl, a favorite of fashionistas everywhere where posh Upper East Siders played by Blake Lively and Leighton Meester toted around the Amex Black cards in Michelle Vale handbags.

While fashion was part of Michelle’s DNA — dad was a senior vice president of Sasson Jeans, favored by aspiring disco divas everywhere in the 80s, and mom once owned a boutique, she never planned on going into the business as a career. “I used to go to Studio 54 with my father,” Michelle told me. “It was such a big part of my childhood that I wanted to something completely different, so I got a master’s in counseling  children which, as it turns out, has come in handy in this business.” It was when the accidental designer got pregnant quickly after getting married that she decided she wanted to do something that allowed her to stay at home with her newborn son. “I literally started the business with my son in my lap,” she said.

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Dishing With Countess LuAnn de Lesseps; Willie Geist and Lawrence O’Donnell Hold Court

lunch logoThe oppressive heat couldn’t keep the faithful away  from Michael’s today. I haven’t seen the place this crowded in ages as most tables were set for four (or more). In fact, the place was so jam packed that TV Guide magazine acting CEO and Wednesday regular Jack Kliger was seated in the Garden Room. Unlike a few people I could mention, Jack is far too cool to care  about something as petty as seating arrangements. Just like the rest of the crowd — not.

Carole Radziwill, one of the more recent additions to the cast of  The Real Housewives of New York City was first to arrive in the dining room today. The alarmingly thin socialite was sporting a curious furry accessory that was neither pet nor purse, sky-high platforms and a sweet flowered dress. Carole passed the time waiting for the rest of her party to arrive by taking pictures of the life-size sculptures of sheep that stand in the restaurant’s lounge. Alrighty then.

Speaking of Housewives, I was joined today by one of my favorite members of the franchise, LuAnn de Lesseps, who drove in from the Hamptons for our tete a tete. The statuesque former model (she’s 5’10″!) has always seemed like one of the more down to earth — and dare we say normal — Bravolebrities. She was all that and more. PR princess extraordinaire Catherine Saxton, who knows everyone who is anyone and is off to the south of France in a few days for the first of the big St. Tropez parties aboard Denise Rich‘s yacht, then go off to join Ivana Trump for her party in St. Tropez  before finally landing in Monte Carlo for a whirlwind of swanky dinners (Can we carry your luggage?), arranged for today’s ladies’ lunch. Between bites of crab cakes and salmon tartare, we chatted about LuAnn’s sixth season on RHNYC, her various projects and, of course, her love life. It’s no secret that LuAnn was one of the last ladies to sign on to the new season of the show. “I waited until I was happy with their offer,” she told me, dismissing rumors that the cast was banding together for salary increases. “Things were handled individually.” While she’s too polite to talk about such gauche topics as money — she did write the manners manual Class with the Countess: How to Live With Elegance and Flair, after all!  But she is upfront about her reasons for sticking with the show. “It’s a great platform.” All the better to ride the wave as long as you can, no? Mais oui! ”We didn’t expect it to last this long,” said LuAnn.

Catherine Saxton, Diane Clehane and LuAnn de Lesseps

Like most of the industrious Housewives set, LuAnn has managed to turn in her 15 minutes into a fledgling empire that includes her book, the record “Money Can’t Buy You Class” and several product lines like tabletop that includes melamine dinnerware and elegant bone china which is currently being sold on QVC and Amazon.com (“Inspired by my love of entertaining and my travels”). Next up is a collection of turquoise jewelry with Gem Stone King. “I love costume jewelry!” she said as she flashed a Wilma Flinstone-inspired pearl bracelet by Twisted. Clearly, the serious bling encased in gold on her finger today was the real thing. “Yes, it’s a star sapphire. This ring was designed by the same man who has done jewelry for Queen Elizabeth.” And not, I’m guessing, available on QVC.

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Sandra Lee Serves Up a New Magazine and Novel; Hoda Kotb Celebrates Book Number Two with Today Show Gang

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Every time I think it can’t get anyone more Fellini-esque at 55th and Fifth, another Wednesday at Michael’s proves me wrong. All that was missing today was a lion tamer and clown shot out of a cannon. There were so many ‘acts’ going on simultaneously I hardly knew where to look.

While I dined with Food Network star Sandra Lee (and tried my best to hear her over the roar of the crowd even though we were sitting next to each other), there was an intimate party of 20 for Hoda Kotb being thrown by her Today show co-host Kathie Lee Gifford.  The gals were celebrating the release of Hoda’s new book, Ten Years Later: Six People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives (Simon & Schuster).  Hoda and Kathie Lee, who spend more time together than most married couples, looked fresher than springtime in Crayola colored (sleeveless!) dresses and were the first to arrive for the noontime fete. Minutes later, the back corner of the front room was jammed with members of the Today show, as well as plenty of well-dressed gals who were there to toast Hoda. The gang was really whooping it up and, of course, a camera man was there to capture it all for posterity or, more likely, for tomorrow’s fourth hour of Today.

I arrived a few minutes before noon to meet Sandra Lee and she came right in the door behind me. After spending just a few minutes with her, it’s easy to see why the creator of the phenomenally successful Semi-Homemade brand is one of the Food Network’s biggest stars. She’s the in-the-know girlfriend who everyone wishes they had.  Within minutes, we were trading tips on our favorite places to shop for bargains. For cake decorating, hers is New York Cake & Baking  on 22nd and Sixth for the most divine sugar roses — “You can get a whole batch for under $10!”

Diane Clehane and Sandra Lee

She arrived laden with proofs for the next issue of her new magazine with TV Guide Magazine named — what else? – Sandra Lee. They’ve already published a Christmas issue, and the January/February “Love” issue is out now. EIC Sandra is in the midst of editing the Easter issue and told me she was trying to explain to a male staffer earlier today why birds’ nests made from shredded coconut should be dyed green instead of brown. It’s all in the details. As the faithful viewers of Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee (now in its 15th season!) know, no one does holidays like her. (“I am working on my latest Cher incarnation. Every Halloween I have to do Cher!”) The Emmy winner covers it all  from the recipes to the cocktails to her trademark ‘tablescapes’ (my personal favorite) to help viewers enjoy entertaining at home without the heavy-handed pretense, over the top expense or work intensive preparation that no one has time for anyway. When I asked her where he love of holidays came from she told me, “When I was a child we didn’t celebrate holidays so when I was 18, that was it. It was Halloween, Christmas and Easter every day.”

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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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Covering Today’s Cronkite Memorial

cronkite2.pngRight now, the public memorial for Walter Cronkite is just getting started at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

TVNewser editors Chris and Kevin are on the scene and Tweeting from the event. So far, they’ve spotted NBC NewsSteve Capus chatting with Rick Kaplan of CBS, Liz Smith sitting next to former Foxnews.com columnist Roger Friedman along with news anchors Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, Charlie Gibson and Dan Rather.

Cronkite’s longtime home CBS will is streaming live coverage of the service on CBSnews.com and TVNewser will have a full report on the memorial later today.

Will you be tuning it to the Web-cast?

TVNewser: Gathering For The Walter Cronkite Memorial Service

Rather-Moonves: War Of Words

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Some juicy Dan Rather-Les Moonves point-counterpoint action — if you’re into that sort of thing.

First up, Rather, on Katie Couric and the CBS Evening News:

“You know, she tried to change networks, which is always difficult and change the programs at the same time. They’ve done all of the usual things. They changed the set. They changed the executive producers. They changed the graphics person, lately, forced out a guy who had been there, Ned Steinberg, for many, many years. They make all those kind of the superficial changes. I do want to say that, I think, under Rick Kaplan, that they have tried to harden up the broadcast in recent days, but that is a relative phrase, harden it up. That, you know, the trend line continues, as I say, dumbing it down, tarting it up, going to celebrity coverage rather than war coverage.”

Then Moonves at this morning’s breakfast with Ken Auletta:

Moonves called the remarks “sexist” and said he was surprised at the amount of negative coverage Couric was receiving. Couric, the first solo female news anchor, has been struggling in the ratings. “She’s been on the air for nine months. Let’s give her a break.”

Then Rather, today:

“It’s insulting and disappointing that Les Moonves, who know a lot about entertainment, would try to mask the real point of that comment. This isn’t a Katie Couric problem,” he said. “It has nothing to do with her gender.”

EARLIER:

  • Ken Auletta To Undress Les Moonves
  • Can Chicks Read The News As Well As Dudes?

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    Apparently no, says Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Gail Shister [via CNN's Reliable Sources]:

    HOWARD KURTZ: Gail Shister, Rick Kaplan and some other CBS executives have said that there is a portion of the audience that may still not be comfortable getting their news from a woman at 6:30. Do you think that is a factor?

    SHISTER: Unfortunately, yes. I do still think it’s a factor. As much as we’d like to think that as a culture, that we have progressed to the point where it doesn’t matter, I think that in news particularly, there is a sense that there is not the — I hate the “G” word, but the gravitas when a woman gives the news, as opposed to a man gives the news. You also have to understand that the average news viewer tends to be older, 60 and older, so they are more entrenched in the tradition. And the tradition, until Katie Couric came in September, was white, middle-aged men.

    KURTZ: Right. Well, we think have you great gravitas on this show.

    RECENT:

  • With Couric Stuck In Third, CBS Swaps Executive Producers
  • Couric Blogs About Evening News Exec Changes
  • Lunch at Michael’s: All Hail Tina Brown!

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    When a little birdie told us to switch our weekly reservation from Wednesday to Thursday so as not to miss the confab of publishing powerhouses that were expected today, we did so in a heartbeat. We’re happy to report today’s crowd didn’t disappoint. Where else could you see Newsweek honcho Jon Meacham bow down to Tina Brown at Mayor Joe Armstrong‘s table, or watch a gaggle of social swans fawn over Project Runway breakout star Tim Gunn while cooling their Jimmy Choos in the lounge? The worlds of substance and style collided today at 55th & Fifth.

    The results kept us so busy gawking that we barely finished our salad nicoise:

    1. Mayor Joe Armstrong presiding over one of his legendary lunches with a host of truly impressive guests. Tina Brown arrived looking every inch the power blonde in black leather and was greeted with great fanfare by all including an enthusiastic hug from neighboring diner and former Condé Nast colleague Shirley Lord. We can’t wait for Tina’s new book, The Diana Chronicles, due out in June from Doubleday with an excerpt to run in Vanity Fair. Word is she breaks big news about the People’s Princess. We can’t imagine what’s left to reveal, but we’re all ears! Joe kept the conversation flowing among pals Liz Smith, Newsweek‘s Jon Meacham, ABC News producer Kathy O’Hearn, Random House’s Susan Mercandetti (who edited Bob Woodruff‘s new book, In An Instant. The ABC newsman’s tale of recovery following his near-death experience in Iraq as written mainly by his wife will debut at number one on the Times bestseller list Sunday, March 16. Couldn’t happen to nicer guy!).

    Always the gentleman, Joe took time out from keeping things lively to introduce lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane to two of his other guests, Vanity Fair correspondent Marie Brenner and Newsweek scribe Holly Peterson. We’ve been fans of Marie’s ever since she took on the tobacco industry in a piece that became the basis for The Insider. Joe teased that her upcoming expose on Guantanamo Bay for Vanity Fair will be even more explosive. We’re really intrigued by Holly’s new book, The Manny, — which earned her $1 million for the book and movie rights. (Not bad for a first timer.) The novel taps into the cultural zeitgeist by chronicling the fictional exploits of a male nanny who does more for Upper East Side yummy mummies than look after their kiddies. The sure-to-be-bestseller is also due out here in June from HarperCollins but is already selling like mad in the U.K.

    2. Shirley Lord & Peter Brown.

    3. Charlie Rose and Zoe Baird. The talkshow host looking more debonair than usual (the no tie look really works for you, Charlie) held Ms. Baird’s rapt attention throughout lunch — must have been a very intriguing tale …

    4. ‘Entourage’ East: EMI president Charlie Walk with four black-suited young gents.

    5. Herb Siegal.

    6. Freddy Gershorn and Steve Swid.

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    With Couric Stuck In Third, CBS Swaps Executive Producers

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    CBS News chief Sean McManus and Couric last summer during CBS’ ‘dog-and-pony show’ for the media

    Coverage of the EP shuffle at the CBS Evening News:

    • TVNewser: Rome Hartman was let go as the executive producer of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, a CBS insider says.
    • AP: “CBS News on Thursday is expected to fire the executive producer of Katie Couric‘s struggling ‘CBS Evening News’ broadcast and appoint former CNN and MSNBC president Rick Kaplan to the job.” … “Many in the industry believed too many people were offering input and there wasn’t a clear sense of who was in charge.”
    • NYT: Hartman was told after last night’s newscast.
    • CBS News: Kaplan “worked at CBS for a decade early in his career, including a period as an associate producer for the CBS Evening News when Walter Cronkite ruled the airwaves as the ‘most trusted man in America.’” He also was at MSNBC when Couric was at Today.
    • Hollywood Reporter: “The network wants a harder-edged, faster-paced newscast than has been seen in the six months since Couric took to the air.”

    Times Square A Huge Target | MTV To Pimp Dubai | Reader’s Digest’s $150M Fumble | Kaplan To Save Katie? | Thai Queen Cracks Down On Coyote Ugly Dancers | Ford Not A ‘Klutz’

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    • Reader’s Digest: Fumbled $150 million on its sale price; new owners look to revive brand. [Folio: | TheStreet.com]
    • Times Square NYE Ball Drop: Brought to you by Target in 3-D. [Daily News]
    • MTV: Looks to pimp Dubai. [Variety]
    • Ex-MSNBC Head Rick Kaplan: To rescue Katie Couric? [Page Six]
    • Thai Queen: Prompts countrywide crackdown of Coyote Ugly inspired dancers. [NYT]
    • Gerald Ford: Had “decent” sense of humor. [ETP]