Kathie Lee Gifford: ‘Trump Is Going to Surprise a Lot of People’

The roster of media mavens, moguls and boldface names spotted today at Michael's.

DianeClehaneLunch_Featured‘Tis the season to be lunching and the crowd at Michael’s turned out in force today for the home stretch of 2016 tête-à-têtes before packing off to their country houses or some exotic port of call. I hadn’t scheduled my usual weekly interview today in the hopes of doing a quick once around the dining room and dashing off to finish some very last minute Christmas shopping, but you know what they say about the best laid plans. Kathie Lee Gifford, who was meeting her good friends Eva Mohr and Lisa Schiff, was one of the first to arrive in the dining room, so when she had settled in and ordered a glass of wine, I had to go over to say hello. When I asked her if she had any predictions for 2017 she told me, “I think great things are going to happen in 2017. Donald Trump is going to surprise a lot people.” Kathie Lee and her late husband, Frank Gifford, were longtime friends of the President-elect. “He and Marla [Maples] got engaged at our farm house in Connecticut.”

(Front)Judy Twersky and Diane Clehane; (Standing) Kathy Levine and Dr. Robi Ludwig
(Front)Judy Twersky and Diane Clehane; (Standing) Kathy Levine and Dr. Robi Ludwig
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“He’s a doer and a fixer,” continued Kathie Lee, who recalled it was Trump who swooped in and successfully took over the long dormant renovation and restoration of Wollman Rink in Central Park in 1986. The city had spent six years and $13 million and still hadn’t finished fixing the public ice rink when Trump convinced Mayor Koch to let him finish the project in four months at the cost of $2.5 million. Trump agreed to fund the project in exchange for taking over the operation of the rink to recoup his costs. Wollman Rink opened on time and under budget. “Nothing was being done for years, and then he took it over and it was fixed in no time.”

She continued, “I believe he will do all he can to fulfill his promises. He has said he wants to be the president of all the people. He loves his country. Those of us who know Donald know he is not a heartless man and he is not a bigot.”

“It’s time to get behind the next president,” said Kathie Lee. “All of this hate towards one another has got to stop. No matter who you voted for, we have to come together.” As for the naysayers, Kathie warned, “Discount Donald at your peril.”

I was just about to wrap things up when I ran into Kathy Levine, who I lunched with earlier this year along with Judy Twersky and Dr. Robi Ludwig. Kathy told me she was meeting them here today for their annual Hanukkah lunch and invited me to join them. I couldn’t resist. These gals really know how to enjoy themselves — much to the chagrin of some fellow diners seated nearby who raised a few eyebrows when our laughter threatened to overtake their lunch. Sorry — but it’s the holidays! And these woman have earned a little R&R.

Kathy, who was one of QVC’s most popular personalities and worked on-air with Joan Rivers, is now working as a sales consultant for Amazon’s Style Code, writing clever copy to woo holiday shoppers. She dazzled us with some descriptions of a few items you couldn’t possibly know you needed like a ‘puppy portal’ that you can install in fences with a view of the outside world to make Fido less anxious about being penned in. Robi is preparing to appear on Nightline tonight to talk about “amiable divorces” since the holidays usually are a time with spouses start to question if ’til death do us part’ is really an option. (So buy that expensive present for pete’s sake!) Judy, who is responsible for setting me up with some of my all-time favorite ‘Lunch’ dates, told me she is currently fielding calls from potential clients who know that if you’ve got a book to promote, she’s the woman for the job.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. John Sykes and a gal we didn’t recognize in a fab faux fur vest. Anyone?

2. In this week’s ‘It’s a Small World’ department: Mickey Ateyeh with former People.com editor Stephen Silverman. When I worked at People for many years, Stephen edited all my stories for ‘the dot’ — People’s then-fledgling website. I never met him until today! Steven, who has moved on to writing books, jokingly told me he’s left “a library” of obituaries of the famous and infamous for the site to run. “Zsa Zsa’s just ran,” he told me. “The best one I ever wrote.”

3. Dr. Robi Ludwig, Judy TwerskyKathy Levine and yours truly

4. Donald Marron

5. Kathie Lee Gifford, Eva Mohr and Lisa Schiff

6. Andrew Stein

7. Glenn Horowitz

8. Jolie Hunt

9. Barry Frey

11. Bobby Friedman and Cathy Black

12. Random House’s Susan Mercandetti

14. Literary agent Frederica Friedman

16. Nick Verbitsky

17. Ron Insana

18. LAK PR’s Lisa Linden and David Simpson

20. Amy Kliger

21. Jack Kliger

23. Ed Powers and John Nitti

27. Jesse Kornbluth, Marshall Cohen and Wendy Goldberg

81. Beverly Camhe

This is my last ‘Lunch’ of 2016. Thanks to everyone who dined and dished with me this year! I wish everyone the happiest of holidays. See you back at Michael’s next year.

Send comments and corrections on this column to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.

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