Kathie Lee Gifford, Marlo Thomas and the Bestseller Brigade



The joint was jumping when I arrived for my weekly lunch at Michael’s today. Between the bestselling authors, media mavens, and the social swans of the Upper East Side, there was a real buzz in the room — or was it just all that pesky pollen from the azaleas on every table?

I was joined today by jewelry designer and all around renaissance woman Carol Brodie. I’ve known Carol since her days at Harry Winston when she managed to get every A-lister you could possibly name to show up at the Academy Awards dripping in the iconic house’s diamonds. In 2009, Carol launched her own fine jewelry collection, Rarities, on HSN and has become the shopping network’s number one resource for fine gems. With prices ranging from $59.90 up to $10,000 for one of a kind pieces, that’s a lot of bling! It’s amazing to learn just how much people pony up sitting at home watching in their pajamas. She’s also launching a collection of watches next month.

Carol has become something of an overnight success in the digital world, since her mantra is “click and order” over “bricks and mortar.” As a completely digital brand, she has garnered plenty of attention for her social media prowess and recently spoke at the Fashion 140 conference at Lincoln Center along with fellow Twitter fanatics Robert Verdi and Elle’s Joe Zee. Besides the “priceless” exposure she gets on HSN (her next appearance is scheduled for May 20, when the network celebrates ‘Brazilian Day’), Carol stays in constant contact with her customers through Facebook and tweets up to the minute on virtually everything she is doing, wearing and selling. (She, of course, tweeted our lunch.)

“Social media is the ‘Main Street’ of my brand,” she told me. “I want to talk directly to my customers, and they want to talk directly to me.” Carol is also planning to do a lot more talking with an upcoming book and television show in development (“a cross between Antique Roadshow and Pawn Brokers“) that she’s working on with a former Oprah producer. She kind of makes you feel guilty about all those hours spent watching Bravo instead of designing your website, doesn’t she?

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Sam Haskell, author (Promises I Made My Mother) and former head of William Morris’ worldwide television division, with his wife and daughter — both named Mary. The group was  joined by Kathie Lee Gifford, who I grabbed for a brief chat. When I asked how her Mother’s Day was, she said, “It will be better tonight — Cody is coming home from college!”

2. Former HarperCollins head Jane Friedman, now CEO and co-founder of Open Road with uber ad man Richard Kirshenbaum and Jeffrey Sharp, president and co-founder of Open Road.

3. Diane Sokolov

4. Charlie Schuler

5. Would love to have been a fly on the wall for this one: KKR’s Henry Kravitz and Universal Studio head Ron Meyer.

6. Most of “The Imber Gang:”  Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina and Michael Kramer

7.  The New York Post’s media guru Keith Kelly and MiMedia’s Fred Clark (Thanks for being ‘Lunch’ loyalists guys!). When I stopped by to say hello, we got into a lively chat about the royal wedding. Our unanimous decision: Prince William and his princess bride Catherine are infinitely more interesting as a newlyweds than they were as an engaged couple. “The numbers show that’s true,” said Keith who tracks these kinds of stats for his column. “Newsstand sales weren’t great for magazines covering the engagement, but for the wedding Us, People and the rest of them did great.” And, of course, it seems like no one can get enough of Catherine’s saucy sister Pippa Middleton, noted Fred. We can’t help ourselves; we’re just fascinated.

8. The Paley Center’s Pat Mitchell with Marlo Thomas, who will always be “That Girl” to us.

9. Fabulous fundraiser Toni Goodale

11. Author Mary Higgins Clark, who is out and about promoting her latest page turner, I’ll Walk Alone. If you’re a fan of the mistress of mysteries, you can catch her at The University Club on June 22 for a Q&A.

12. Last week, her sister Joan Collins held court in the dining room. This week, Jackie Collins slipped in practically unnoticed. The Queen of the Beach Book was dishing with People‘s PR maven Nancy Valentine. Just asking, but does anyone know how many hundreds of thousands of books that the women in this restaurant have sold in total? The mind reels.

14. MOMA’s Mimi Haas with Michael Margitich

15. Barbara Lee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and Colette Rhoney

16. NBC’s Victor Garvey

81. Accessory maven Mickey Ateyeh and an equally chic gal pal

17.  Architect and antiques dealer David Biscaye (who, you might recall, was featured in last week’s New York magazine Home Design issue) with a young lady we didn’t get a chance to meet.

18.  Hearst honcho David Carey

20. Shirley Lord (long time no see!)

21.  Digital Living’s Shelly Palmer with Lisa Damiani, president of Star Rock. Lisa, who barely looks older than a teenager herself, is a record label owner and voice coach for kids. (Her own golden pipes won her the top prize on Star Search in 1989.) Impressive!

22. Stephen B. Howe

23. Hudson Yard Real Estate’s Jay Cross

24. Attorney Jordan Ringel

25. Chip Wilson

26. Carol Brodie and yours truly

27. Abu Dhabi Media Company’s Michael Garin

28. Hearst’s Jon Smith

29. Money man Joel Moser

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