Jon Meacham, Desiree Gruber and a Squadron of Spinmeisters

1003_mockup.gif— DIANE CLEHANE

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: On Wednesdays, all roads lead to Michael’s. Exhibit A: This week, one of my best friends from Bay Shore High School, Scot Safon, was featured in a New York Times piece by alum Brian Stelter. So I was thrilled to catch up with Scott when he walked into the dining room this afternoon on his way to meet Fortune‘s Pattie Sellers (one of his best friends from college).

Scot’s come a long way from his days as one of the editors of our school newspaper, The Maroon Echo. Having risen through the ranks at Turner, he is now helming CNN sister network HLN and shepherding shows headlined by Nancy Grace, Joy Behar, Dr. Drew Pinsky and Jane Velez-Mitchell. The Times piece chronicled HLN’s runaway ratings thanks to their coverage of Casey Anthony‘s headline-grabbing murder trial. As Scot sees it, the trial “has so many layers” for his stable of talent to explore as they relate to each host’s area of expertise. As Nancy continues to hold “tot mom” Casey’s feet to the fire seeking  “justice for [Anthony’s late daughter] Caylee,” Dr. Drew explores the myriad psychological issues unearthed during testimony. On their respective shows, Joy and Jane chew over the day’s events and keep viewers up to the minute on all the developments. “It is a fascinating case that has viewers riveted,” says Scot. “It’s a once in a lifetime trial.” (That is, at least until the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray starts in September.)

I was joined today by Fidelis Global’s Gerry Byrne, and we had a terrific chat about the state of the media business. Gerry, who has run an incredible stable of publications including Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, is involved in a head spinning number of projects these days that cross all platforms. He recently added the role of managing partner at Black Ocean, a diversified media holdings company launched by Oliver Ripley, founding partner of the UK-based Ocean Group, and Tremor Media founder Andrew Reis. Gerry also hosts monthly ‘Influencer’ lunches with’s Bonnie Fuller. (He sits on the board of its parent company, Penske Media.)

Having presided over so many print titles during their heyday, Gerry says he’s invigorated by the “wild west of digital opportunities” he and his partners have discovered, and created, online. His belief that companies that own the next generation’s digital paths will be the big winners going forward is keeping him thinking big and moving forward. “The consumer is king!” says Gerry. “Long live the consumer!”

1.  A trio of ladies who launch: public relations maven Christine Taylor, producer Desiree Gruber and Katherine Oliver, commissioner of The Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting.

2. Socialite Sugar Rautbord just in from Chicago — with two gal pals

3. Thomson Reuters’ global head of PR Jolie Hunt, looking terribly chic in all white

4. Uber agent Esther Newberg, at her usual perch with Random House EVP Jon Meacham

5.  Michael J. Wolf

6. Nikki Haskell and pals

7. Attorney Michael Kassan and Irv Gottlieb

8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia and some elegantly attired folks

9. Joannie Danielides

11. Anne Fuchs (Long time, no see!) and a chic redhead we didn’t get a chance to meet

12.  Morgan Stanley’s Patrick Murphy with sister Mary McDonagh Murphy, the lovely Joan Jakobson and menswear designer John Caruso. I congratulated Mary on the runaway success of her book, Scout, Atticus and Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill A Mockingbird. The book has become the terrific new film Hey Boo, which tells the story behind the enduring classic To Kill a Mockingbird and features interviews with Tom Brokaw, Oprah Winfrey and Anna Quindlen. Mary also managed to get the family of the book’s reclusive author, Harper Lee, to cooperate with the project. Mary told me she was astonished to discover that no one else had thought of the idea for the book before her.  “I couldn’t believe it,” she said. Who says there are no more original ideas? Kudos.

14.  Simon & Schuster’s Alice Mayhew

15.  Mitch Rosenthal

16.  Peter Price

81. Gerry Byrne and yours truly

17.  Judy Price

18.  My good friend, public relations maven Lisa Linden with David Anderson, vice president/director of realty company Brown Harris Stevens. Lisa tells me she is on the move, since David just sold her Upper West Side digs. Congrats!

19.  Producer Beverly Cahme who was nice enough to introduce me to her friend Patricia Lambrecht of Hello Entertainment. As one of the producers of Spiderman Turn Off the Dark, Patricia is one busy gal these days. Now that Spidey has finally opened, she’s turned her attention to another hotly anticipated production opening across the pond next month. Ghost — yes, the play is based on the Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze blockbuster — opens July 19 in London. The stage version of the iconic chick flick is set to come to Broadway next year.

20.  Fortune‘s Pattie Sellers with HLN’s Scot Safon

21.  CBS’s David Poltrack

22.  Ford Models’ Bill Ford

23.  Attorney Bob Towbin

24. Pricewaterhouse Cooper’s Peter Miscovich and Denise Shapiro

25. PR guru Tom Goodman and Arthur Sando

26. Chanel’s John Galantic

27. Gordon Davis

28.  Marvel Enterprise’s Sara Beth Shrager

Goodbye and good luck: Everyone in the dining room was lining up to bid adieu to one of Michael’s best staffers, server (and Jon Hamm lookalike) Billy Campbell who is moving on after almost seven years. Billy tells me he will be working as a physical therapist at Montefiore and the Hospital for Special Surgery. We’ll miss you!

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