It’s An A-Lister Buffet! Cate Blanchett, Debra Messing, Star Jones and The Morning Joe Team



It’s a sure sign that spring is actually on its way when the A-list comes out of hibernation and flocks to Michael’s once again. The appearance of Cate Blanchett and Debra Messing holding court at their respective tables had the whole place buzzing. Wendy Williams, seated in the middle of the action, could barely focus on her own table because she was so excited. We also have to imagine that the grub at the NBC cafeteria must be wanting these days, because there were so many of the network’s bold face names (Joe! Mika! David!) all around the room.

I was joined today by my good friend, Diana Biederman, managing director of Blackbird PR and Kristen Vigrass, president of The Brandman Agency. We were celebrating Kristen’s promotion to to president of the firm which was announced earlier this year. A public relations vet with a long history in the luxury market for companies including Calvin Klein, Kristen started at The Brandman Agency as a supervisor and worked her way up during her decade with the company. Bravo!

Kristen tells me she and founder Melanie Brandman are planning to celebrate a decade of working together with a possible  sojourn to Borneo. The exotic port of call will be on the intinerary later this year when the agency’s client Orion Expedition Cruises sets sail to the destination with a new ship. Kristen’s suitcase is always packed and ready to go somewhere. The Brandman Agency also represents Intercontinental Hotels Group and Orient-Express Hotels. When do we leave?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Debra Messing, looking every inch the star in a luxe white fur vest with her manager Molly Madden (the gals co-produced Messing’s now cancelled series The Starter Wife for USA Networks) and producer Desiree Gruber.

2. A Fox5 reunion: Rosanna Scotto, Penny Crone and Lynne White.

3. Sony Pictures Television head Steve Mosko with Tom Bernard and Michael Barker

4. Here’s an interesting trio: Uber celeb handler Cindi Berger, Hearst honcho Ellen Levine and Conde Nast front woman Maurie Perl

6. Most of ‘The Imber Gang”: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina and Andy Bergman. I had a chance to chat with Gerry before we sat down at our respective tables and asked him how his Youth Corridor skincare line is doing. Turns out it’s going great guns and got a real boost recently when the good doctor appeared on Martha Stewart’s daytime show. “I’ve known her forever,” Gerry told me. “Before she was ‘Martha Stewart’ and better known as Andy Stewart’s wife.” After Gerry’s appearance on the show, his website was deluged with hits (the products are only available online). Now, he says there’s talk of expanding distribution in a big way. We’ll keep you posted.

7.  Dream Water’s chief marketing officer Adam Platzner with Ketchum’s associate director/partner Mike Doyle and vice president of brand practice Nicole Tehan. Adam told me they were celebrating Dream Water signing Ketchum as the company’s public relations agency of record. Congrats! Adam also brought along mini six-pack samples of his company’s hotter than hot namesake product in ‘Snoozeberry’ to distribute to the lunchtime crowd as they headed out the door. Dream Water, which Adam and his partner launched in Duane Reade in 2009,  is billed as an all-natural sleep aid that contains tryptophan (that stuff in turkey that puts you right out after dinner) that can help anyone unwind after a stressful day. “The movers and shakers here could probably use a good night sleep,” said Adam.  If, after downing a bottle tonight we actually manage to get a solid eight hours, we’ll be sending flowers.

8. Early show: Quest’s editor in chief David Patrick Columbia with his good friend Brooke Hayward. Second act: one of our favorite daytime divas, Wendy Williams with Wendy Hunter and her dad Tom who was celebrating a birthday. Cheers!

9. Hearst’s high priestess of publicity Deb Shriver (loved the hat!)

10.‘s Jesse Kornbluth

11. Democratic Leadership Council chairman Harold Ford, Jr. with Meet the Press moderator David Gregory.

12. MSNBC’s hotter than hot duo, Morning Joe’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski with Obama’s former car czar Steve Rattner and another formidable looking fellow we didn’t recognize. We can’t help but notice that every time we see Mika anywhere around town she is looking very glam these days.

14. First up: My friend, marketing maestro and political commentator Robert Zimmerman with Verizon’s vice president of government & external affairs Susanna Zwerling. Susanna tells me they’ve just installed Fios in my neck of the woods in Greenwich which should come as good news to the local captains of industry who hate to be kept waiting for a second longer than necessary for their all-important emails. Grand finale: Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett, who went virtually unnoticed thanks to her chic, shorter hairstyle and thick black eyeglasses, with producer/director Charles Finch. Here’s a bit of Oscar trivia: Charles’ dad is actor Peter Finch. To the uninitiated, he’s  the guy in Network who uttered the indelible line, “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!” and won himself a posthumous Oscar.

15. Author Ed Klein and Mitchell Ivers

16. Art collector Pearl Lam

17. Jack Myers and Renee Appelle

18.  Cosmo editrix Kate White (Long time no see!) and a groovy looking young fellow we didn’t get to meet.

20. A demure looking Star Jones, who we barely recognized thanks to her pulled back hair and conversative grey sweater dress. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be tuning into Celebrity Apprentice when it premieres next month to watch the smackdown between Star and Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Nene Leakes. Nene recently told Wendy Williams that she “wouldn’t spit on” the former co-host of The View if she were on fire. Uh-oh.

21. Curtis Giessen and Chris Hunt

22.  Diana Biederman, Kristen Vigrass and yours truly.

23. Dr. Ian Smith. Our table was very excited to be seated near our favorite member of VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club‘s panel of hardcore fitness experts. We skipped dessert in his honor.

24. Walter Sabo

25. PR whiz Tom Goodman, who was nice enough to introduce me to Suzette Gomes of Cora International, renown supplier of white and fancy colored diamonds. “Do you like diamonds?” Tom asked as he introduced me to Suzette.  I couldn’t help but be dazzled by the 16 carat diamond sparkler Suzette was sporting. What’s not to like?

26. Bob Towbin and Alan Mnuchin.

27. Quest‘s Chris Meigher and pals.

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