Lunch at Michael’s: All Hail Tina Brown!


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.

7. Marilyn Crawford and Suzanne DePass.

8. PR guru Bobby Zarem.

9. Tim Gunn and Stacy Morrison. It was the first meeting for Liz Claiborne’s newly-minted chief creative officer and Redbook‘s editor-in-chief. “I love what they are doing at Liz — it’s what we’ve been doing at Redbook for a while,” says Stacy of the mass market manufacturer’s latest bid for street cred among the notoriously picky style set. We’re betting on Gunn — if anyone can up the glamour ante at the Seventh Avenue stalwart, he can. The ubiquitous star of Project Runway, who turned up on more Oscar post mortems than Jennifer Hudson, told Diane Clehane he didn’t know what the other style critics where talking about when they praised the sartorial splendor of the red carpet. “I couldn’t believe when I heard so many people say there were so many surprises,” says Gunn summing up the fashion snooze fest. “The only surprise was there were no surprises.” We couldn’t agree more.

11. Gil Schwartz and daughter Nina. Nice to see the CBS spinmeister out and about on what is certainly been a tough week — both USA Today and the Daily News have sharpened their knives for Katie Couric and yesterday’s news that CBS News producer Rome Hartman had been replaced with former MSNBC president Rick Kaplan no doubt kept Gil’s blackberry buzzing …

12. Michael Atea and three gal pals.

14. Alice Mayhew and guests.

15. Peter Price.

16. Larry Kaiser.

17. Hotelier Rob Goldberg and wife Cheryl.

18. Melania Trump with an equally-stunning and exotic-looking dark-haired beauty. We’re told the mystery woman is a beauty queen from one of hubby Donald’s pageants.

19. The gorgeous spring floral arrangement blocked our view.

20. Patricia Duff all in black. (Loved those killer stiletto boots!)

21. Quest‘s Chris Meigher.

22. Jim Abernathy.

23. Howard Wolfson.

24. We couldn’t see.

25. The always colorful Dan Wassong and guests.

26. Publisher’s Weekly‘s Sara Nelson and Bill McCorry.

27. Avenue‘s Judy Price.

28. Uber-agent Luke Janklow.

29. Lois Najerian.

In the Garden Room: Us Weekly‘s new fashion diva Sasha Charnin Morrison lunching with three young Armani execs. Of her switch from Allure to Us, Sasha says: “I love it! I prefer the fast pace. It’s great!”

Please send comments and corrections to DianeClehane AT mediabistro DOT com & lunch at mediabistro DOT com.