Lunch: Katie Couric, Andre Leon Talley & Melania Trump

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Forget the lazy days of summer. The joint was jumping at Michael’s today as the lunchtime crowd of television types, fashionistas, media mavens and bold-faced names table-hopped like mad. There was plenty of air kissing and back slapping all around as the gang, turned out in their summer finery, made their way to and from the dining room. But once folks settled in to break bread (or at least pick at their salads), the mood was all business. We would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to hear what a few folks (Katie Couric this means you) chatted about between bites.

As much as I love being invited to eat with the grown-ups in the dining room, my usual perch at the bar gives me a bird’s eye view to take everything in as it happens. Sometimes, too, it’s the ideal spot to catch up someone who is waiting for their date. I’ve gotten to know Vogue‘s main man Andre Leon Talley over the past year or so from his Wednesday visits under just such circumstances and today we had a nice chat about a number of things. Andre, fresh off his appearance in Sex and The City: The Movie (“I loved it, loved being in it. Loved that it was so well received.”) is surviving the summer in his own inimitable style. He’s taken up gardening at his Westchester weekend home. “It’s hard work but godly. I’m loving it!” He’s getting ready to go to the couture shows next week and then spend a few days in Rome. While he waited for his good friend Melania Trump to arrive, he entertained me by assessing a few unwitting passersby’s sartorial savvy. When The New York Observer‘s Jared Kushner was departing with his dad, Andre decreed the elder Mr. Kushner was much more stylish than his son. “Look at the shoes,” admonished Andre to a bemused Jared. “They’re divine!” I was happy I made time for a shoe shine at Grand Central before hopping into a cab today.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. A gaggle of social swans: Felicia Taylor, Terry Allen Kramer, Sommers White and a dark-haired gal that was spotted getting a shoulder massage from their server, Billy. It was the eagle-eyed Andre Leon Talley who pointed out that the sensuous side order being served up across the room as we chatted at the bar. I’ll have what she’s having.

2. Boy wonder Jared Kushner with his charming and dapper father, Charlie Kushner (Glad to make your acquaintance) and a dashing dark-haired young gent.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong with Jonathan Mahler, Danielle Mattoon and Holly Peterson. I sat with the ‘Mayor’ while he waited for his guests to arrive and he told me about his recent trip to Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall camp where the tireless Joe bunked in with a cabin full of 15-year-old cancer patients for the week and marveled at the kids strength and spirit. “It is truly amazing what Paul has done up there,” says Joe who makes time each year to visit the extraordinary haven for these seriously ill children who would otherwise have no outlet for true summer fun. “I was the oldest one there,” joked the ‘Mayor.’ But surely, we’re guessing, one of the most energetic camp counselors of the lot.

The ‘Mayor’ shared his advance copy of Jonathan’s new book, The Challenge: Hamdan vs. Rumsfield and the Fight Over Presidential Power, which comes out in August from Farrar, Straus, Giroux, with me. The book chronicles the fascinating story of a man captured near the Pakistan border who confessed to once working as Osama bin Laden’s driver and was taken to Guantanamo Bay to await trial. No one expected much from his Pentagon-appointed defense lawyer but then young naval lieutenant enlisted the aid of a constitutional law professor from Georgetown to sue the Bush administration over the legality of the tribunals. In 2006, they argued their case in front of the Supreme Court — and won. In light of this week’s news about the administration and the justice department and the torrent of reports about abuse of power hemorrhaging out of Washington, The Challenge is sure to make headlines. It’s definitely worth grabbing a copy to take along on your August vacation. Not exactly beach reading, I grant you, but you can’t spend all your time reading Us Weekly.

4. Katie Couric and CNBC flack Kevin Goldman (Happy Birthday). Katie told me she’s excited about working on the upcoming joint network telethon to raise money for cancer research scheduled for September 5. I asked Katie about doing a So What Do You? Interview timed to the broadcast and she sounded game, so we’re calling your publicist now… Kevin and I chatted — off the record, sorry — about the ongoing and increasingly ugly battle between Keith Olbermann and Page Six. We both agreed there’s no end — unfortunately — in sight.


5. Stan Shuman, John Eastman and Herb Siegal.

6. My good pal Diane Dimond lunching with her “old pals” Ian Rae and Jerry Burke. “We’re the Tabloid Triad,” says Diane. The gang first met back in the 80s when they were all working on A Current Affair and Jerry was Diane’s longtime producer back in her Hard Copy days. “We broke tons of stories together about the William Kennedy Smith case.” Seems this intrepid trio have some “secret projects” in the works. “It’s all very mysterious,” teases Diane. Jerry is also starting some “big new” job — the details to be announced shortly. Stay tuned…

7. Andre Leon Talley and Melania Trump.

8. The boys of summer: New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia and Peter Rogers resplendent in seersucker (They clearly must have gotten the fashion memo from ALT — who also sported the quintessentially warm-weather look — this morning about proper attire for today’s lunch)

9. Publisher Weekly’s Sara Nelsonand pals.

11. Wayne Kabak and a gent whose face was familiar but whose name no one seemed to know…

12. A table full of ‘Freud-ians’: Public relations maven Lisa Dallos with colleagues Courtney McCraw and Chris Giglio and Nick Wiszowaty CEO of Freud UK.

15. Ed Blier

16. Nick Verbitsky and friends.

17. Richard Rubenstein.

18. Rick Kaplan.

20. Kate White sipping — what else? — a Cosmo sent over by Katie Couric with Katie Lee Joel. The always effervescent Kate was nice enough to introduce me to Ms. Joel (who was sporting the tiniest aqua mini I’ve seen this side of East Hampton with white pumps). Seems these two Cosmo gals were chatting about the success of Katie’s cookbook — The Comfort Table — and her plans for the future. The newly minted authoress told me she’s trademarked the name and is already hard at work on her next tome that will incorporate “all aspects of entertaining” and include her take on full menus, table settings and — you guessed it — music to set the mood. When I asked might there be a television series in the works with Food Network or Bravo (you might recall Ms. Joel was Padma Lakshmi’s predecessor on Top Chef) she just smiled…

21. Quest‘s Chris Meigher and, we’re told, the head of the Red Cross’ New York Office…

23. My pal Beverly Camhe with Gail Sheehy and a table full of pals. On her way into the dining room Beverly collared Andre Leon Talley and asked him if he’s been dressing Michelle Obama. “It’s not me!” Andre replied. “I haven’t been asked.” He and I both agreed that Mrs. Obama is doing quite nicely in the presidential race’s style sweepstakes all on her own. Did you know that adorable black and white number she wore on The View for her cohosting gig was a mere $140 from White House / Back Market? Now you do…

24. Martin Puris.

25. Scott Singer.

26. Nina Link.

27. Diane Passage and Catherine Sexton.

28. CBS’ Jennifer Suarez.

Faces in the crowd: Hearst’s publicity princess Deb Shriver and my new pals at the bar Diann Landers and Marybeth Norris in from Michigan. And to another Michigander, my favorite barkeep Randall who is off to California for some much deserved vacation — have fun and see you in two weeks!

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

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