You never know who you’re going to meet on any given Wednesday at Michael’s. I’ve chatted with former presidents, Oscar winners, and tabloid targets who have made the usually unflappable crowd turn and stare, but it’s those unexpected, below the radar moments that are often the most fun. When GM Steve Millington introduced me to Jerry Casale of Devo, one of my favorite ’80s bands, I was delighted. Just last week, I’d just seen Pearl Jam’s cover of the group’s famous anthem, “Whip It,” on YouTube where they wore copies of those infamous yellow jumpsuits and red flowerpot hats. I asked Jerry if he’d known about the act in advance. “No, and I wished they’d told me,” he joked. “I would have been able to tell them about the hard hat holders we wore to keep our hats in place. They had to settle for those silly elastic straps under their chins.” Still, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, says Jerry. “I’ve gotten so many calls since it wound up in Rolling Stone and gone viral. It’s a lot of fun.”
Larry Kramer joined me for lunch today and was excited to tell me all about his upcoming book, Talespin, which was bought by HarperCollins earlier this fall (Freddie Friedman agented the deal). In it, Larry tackles the idea of how all businesses are grappling with “the recreation of storytelling” from publishing to retailing. The game has changed, says Larry, especially in media. He takes “the media guys” to task for “protecting the business model instead of the business.” Besides getting top executives from here and abroad to weigh in (in his reporting Larry discovered Europe was way ahead of the curve in adapting to a changing multi-platform world) — the book is a sum total of Larry’s experience in “the old and new worlds of media.” In addition to his two decades as a reporter and editor for top papers including The Washington Postand the San Francisco Examiner, Larry founded MarketWatch in 1997 and has helmed CBS Digital Media. These days, he’s consulting for a cross section of media ventures including Discovery Networks and The Weather Channel. In January, Larry will begin teaching a graduate level course at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School where some of the lectures will be Skyped in and students will be “embedded” into companies to study their strategies first hand.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Cosmo editrix Kate White with a table full of gals we didn’t get to meet.
2. Peter Brown
3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, uber agent Ed Victor and Don Epstein of Greater Talent Network.
4. Author Ed Klein and Owen Laster
5. Michael J. Wolf with ABC News’ Bianna Golodryga
6. The ‘Imber Gang:’ Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer
7. Kim McCarty (Michael’s wife) and some gal pals
8. My friend, wowOwow.com founder Joni Evans, who was lunching with her colleague Hilary Black. I’d hadn’t seen Hillary since her days as MORE‘s entertainment and books editor. These days, she’s working with Joni on the female-centric site doing “a little bit of editorial and a little bit of marketing.” Sounds like fun!
9. Long time no see: Politico and CNN contributor Robert Zimmerman, who was nice enough to introduce me to a mystery man I’d seen several times at Michael’s but hadn’t had a chance to get to know. Nice to meet you, Daniel Cruise!
11. Literary agent Esther Newberg
12. Producer Joan Gelman with her handsome sons, Josh and Gregg.
14. Nicki Haskell and Ivana Trump
15. Larry Kramerand yours truly
81. InStyle‘s Hal Rubenstein and Stephanie Greenfield (loved the grey mini and gold bling!), who were joined briefly by another fab fashionista..
16. TiVo CEO Tom Rogers
17. Warner Music’s Lyor Cohen (Tory Burch’s boyfriend, just in case you didn’t know)
18. Ben Silverman, who was working the room like nobody’s business, with Tony Disanto of MTV and Ricky Van Veen, co-founder and EIC of CollegeHumor.com. We wanted to ask the former boy wonder of NBC, and current partner of Barry Diller on a ‘branded entertainment’ venture, what he thought of the scathing piece on the network’s changing fortunes that ran in New York magazine last week. Unfortunately, he was moving so fast from table to table we could barely keep up.
19. CAA’s Olivia Metzger with BloombergTV’s David Rhodes
20. My good pal Lisa Linden, who was nice enough to introduce me to her friend Sandy Gross. Sandy’s recruitment firm, Pinetum Partners LLC, specializes in finding spots for those hedge fund types in the $500,000 to $3 million salary range, and she reports that business is booming. Could this mean that happy days will be here again? “Things got a little quiet at the beginning of the year. But they really got busy in the fall again,” she reports. Warms the heart, doesn’t it?
21. Richard Rubenstein and Quest‘s Chris Meigher
22. ABC’s Eric Avram
23. Carol Weisman
24. Walter Sabo with television legend Fred Silverman and Caitlin Hill. When I first started reporting on the scene at Michael’s a few years back, Walter was always sure to point out the moguls and mavens in the room I might not know — a gesture I greatly appreciated. Today, he wanted to make sure I caught the media moment of the day when Ben Silverman came over to shake hands with Fred Silverman (no relation). I assured Walter I did indeed witness the generational exchange but was glad to see he was still looking out for me. Thanks!
25. Beverly Cahme with Susan Bass from Earth Day International. The girls are hard at work planning the 40th anniversary of Earth Day with a series of global events celebrating the green movement. How’s this for a coincidence? It turns out none other than Michael himself underwrote the costs of the first Earth Day event held in Santa Monica, home of his other eatery.
26. Marvel Enterprise’s Sarabeth Shrager
27. Michael Eisner
28. Robert Grimes
Faces in the crowd: Marvin Traub and Richard Bilotti at different tables in the Garden Room … Bernard-Henri Levy and socialite of the moment Daphne Guinness, whose one part Marie Antoinette and two parts Cruella De Vil look raised plenty of eyebrows among the lunch time crowd.
We’ll be taking next week off getting ready for Turkey day. Happy Thanksgiving and see you in two weeks!
Please send comments and corrections to DianeClehane AT mediabistro Dot com and lunch at mediabistro DOT com.