— DIANE CLEHANE
Before dashing off to their summer cottages in the Hamptons for the long holiday weekend, the media mavens and moguls were at their regular perches at Michael’s today for a bit of last minute networking. It was SRO at the bar and the dining room was jam packed, because the Garden Room was reserved for a party hosted by the cast of Damages, the water cooler legal drama starring Glenn Close as a ruthless Manhattan attorney.
Last year, FX cancelled the show after three seasons, but it got a stay of execution from Direct TV which will air the season four premiere on July 13. I caught up with the series’ co-creator and show runner Daniel Zelman (who happens to be Debra Messing‘s husband, in case you didn’t know) before the party to find out what he thought of the move. “FX was wonderful and terrifically supportive, and Direct TV has been great. We’re thrilled about their commitment to the show,” he told me, adding that Damages will be the first stateside television series to air exclusively on the company’s new Audience Network. (They also aired the beloved but viewer deprived Friday Night Lights, which they shared with NBC.)
I asked Daniel what ripped-from-the-headlines news story would serve as the inspiration for the upcoming season. “The privatization of war industry,” he told me, saying that the new scripts are “loosely based” on those stories about for-hire firms like Blackwater who are paid to go to Iraq and Afghanistan. “The stories behind the for-profit companies involved in the war effort are very interesting. There is a lot to explore,” he said. Last season’s scalding Shakespearean version of the Madoff saga certainly made for very compelling human drama, and Daniel says that while there is no single larger than life figure this season, faithful viewers will be rewarded. “At the end of it, we hope they feel like they’ve been watching a 13-hour movie and feel satisfied with their investment.” With a stellar cast (all in attendance today) headed by Close, Rose Byrne (loved you in Bridesmaids!), John Goodman and Dylan Baker, we’re sure viewers will have plenty to chew on. We’ll be watching.
I had a lively lunch today with Self’s editor-in chief Lucy Danziger who arrived on her scooter with entertainment director Laura Brounstein. Rounding out our foursome was Huffington Post’s new women’s editor Lori Leibovich who is busy these days getting ready to launch a host of new verticals including ones devoted to parenting, baby boomers and pets.
Lucy just celebrated her 10th anniversary at Self , and she’s more energized than ever. She gave Lori and me a quick tour of Self’s July issue with cover girl Zooey Deschanel on the magazine’s iPad App which featured videos of fashion spreads with Cobra Starship set to music and stop action video demonstrating the exercise moves in the fitness features. This being ‘The Music Issue,’ Lucy and her team came up with some clever ways to get readers’ heart rates up, including playlists designed to motivate and slim them down. “Music is scientifically proven to be a powerful fitness tool,” she says. Just ask May’s cover girl Gwyneth Paltrow.
It was clear from seeing Lucy zip her way around her iPad during lunch that she has completely embraced her magazine’s digital doppelganger (which just launched in April with cover girl Kim Kardashian hosting live chats) and sees it as a way to connect with her readers like never before. ”The print magazine is great. It refreshes a reader’s commitment on a monthly basis,” she explained. “But we can reach the same reader every day with something new with our App. We refresh our content every day and are constantly coming up with new ways to make our readers feel more involved. We had three million uniques last month and, in the digital world, we can reach those readers 24/7.”
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Lucy Danziger, Laura Brounstein, Lori Leibovich and yours truly
2. Peter Brown
3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Sherrie Westin
4. PR scion Steve Rubenstein