One of the things I love most about chronicling the Wednesday scene at Michael’s is the random celeb sightings that seem to come out of left field. On offer today: television stars of the past and present that represent the changing (and fickle?) tastes of the viewing public. When none other than Morgan Fairchild walked in (she’s even tinier in person), I had an eighties flashback to those great trashy nighttime soaps and damsel in distress Lifetime movies that were all the rage back then. A few minutes later, The Real Housewives of New Jersey‘s Caroline Manzo, today’s definition of a soap star, walked in. Funny enough, they were seated right next to each other but neither noticed the other. What can I say? This stuff fascinates me.
I was joined today by two PR mavens, Melanie Brandman, founder of The Brandman Agency, and Diana Biederman, managing director of Blackbird PR. After chewing over the week’s hottest gossip (Did Kim Kardashian do it for money? Has Kris Jenner no shame?), we had a good chat about Melanie’s latest luxury innovation, Travel Curator, which she describes as a hybrid online monthly magazine, diary and blog that shares the very best insider information on cities around the world. Besides having exquisite taste, Melanie’s unrivaled experience in the hospitality industry and two decades of worldwide travel have given her quite an address book.
“I’m constantly asked where to go to find the very best around the world and, since I love to share information, I thought this would be a fabulous way to do that.” The “content driven” site is absolutely gorgeous, including ‘The Spot” of the month. The native Aussie’s Sydney is the launch pick, followed by New York, London and Tel Aviv — all cities Melanie has called home. It also includes a fabulously fun section entitled “Tastemakers” where Melanie culls names from her Rolodex to offer their picks on shopping and travel in various locales. (Full disclosure: In an upcoming edition, I sing the praises of American Girl Place as the best place in NYC to spend a day with the special little girl in your life.) The site is getting great buzz; it was recently featured in Travel & Leisure and was the subject of two segments on Fox News. Right now, everything is being handled in-house at The Brandman Agency, and it’s being circulated via subscription and by the agency’s extensive contact lists. So, before you pack for that next vacation, check out the site.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. A little birdie told me one of the Real Housewives was going to be sitting at the best table in the house today, so we were eager to see who it was. Bravo’s SVP of communications Jennifer Geisser arrived first, followed by People‘s Charlotte Triggs and Jason Lynch. Once the dining room filled up, RHONJ’s Caroline Manzo and her husband Albert Manzo slipped in virtually unnoticed.
When I went up to say hello, I was struck by how Caroline looked a lot less formidable (“We’re thick as thieves!”) than she does on the show. In fact, I detected more than a little weariness in her demeanor. She smiled politely when I told her I was a fan of the show, and I got the distinct impression she was steeling herself against having to answer questions about the absolute implosion of the cast members’ relationships. Since People was obviously there for more than the stone crab claws, I suspect Caroline and Albert were doing some dishing (and damage control) on Caroline’s televised smackdown with Theresa Giudice and estrangement from her own sister, Dina.
Interestingly enough, I took an informal poll of fans in the dining room today, and many said that they were finished with the show because it’s just become too nasty. That’s what they all say.
2. Diet pill diva Nikki Haskell with eighties TV icon Morgan Fairchild (Come on, you remember Flamingo Road with Mark Harmon, don’t you?) and former supermodel Beverly Johnson. It must be said all three gals look absolutely ageless. I also couldn’t help but notice how Nikki and Morgan (save for their different hair colors) have come to look virtually identical. What’s your secret, girls?
3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong with two distinguished looking fellows enjoying some fine red wine
4. Barry Diller
5. Herb Siegel
6. Most of ‘The Imber Gang:’ Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman
7. Melanie Brandman, Diana Biederman and yours truly. Second seating: Producer Beverly Camhe and Carine de Meyere fresh off The Clinton Global Initiative. Carine tells me she is running this Sunday in the New York City marathon to raise funds and awareness for her dream of building an interactive children’s museum in the Netherlands. Good Luck!
8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia and Paxton Quigley
9. Conde Nast’s Maurie Perl
11. Niche Media’s Jason Binn
12. Producer Joan Gelman (long time no see, my friend!) with Joan Hamburg and another ‘Joan’ whose last name I failed to catch over the din. When Joan Gelman asked me if I’d lost power yet again in Greenwich due to the weekend snow storm (by some miracle, I didn’t this time), Joan Hamburg, a legendary consumer advocate for decades, told me that Connecticut Light & Power is the worst in her opinion. We couldn’t agree more. “They have known about the trouble up there for years, but yet they refuse to move the power lines underground,” she says. “It’s been getting worse and worse.” Now I know why the traffic and weather channel in my neck of the woods is sponsored by a generator company. Yeesh.
14. Cosmetic titan Leonard Lauder with Carol Smith, who, we should note, turned more than a few heads because people thought she was Anna Wintour. Perhaps the two power gals share the same hair stylist.
15. Discovery ID’s Henry Schleiff
16. United Stations Radio Network’s Nick Verbitsky
17. Jolie Hunt and Jay Kriegel. The Thomson Reuters’ PR maven stopped by our table to show off a stunning new sparkler on her ring finger. Congrats on your engagement!
18. Steve Rattner
19. Richard Bressler
20. Kay Pick
21. My good friend, Dr. Robi Ludwig, who was nice enough to introduce me to Char Margolis, celebrated medium and author of the upcoming book The Love Karma — she’s the one who shocked Kelly Ripa by announcing that the then fledgling talk show host was pregnant during an appearance on Live with Regis & Kelly — and Corinda Carfora. Robi, who is everywhere you look these days weighing in on the tsunami of celebrity dysfunction, also somehow finds the time to do her own jewelry line with ShopNBC. She is currently working with Gems en Vogue II on an exclusive collection of pieces benefiting the American Heart Association and debuting on the network later this month.
22. Kurt Anderson
23. One table, two legends: Ira Neimark, former CEO of Bergdorf Goodman, and former Bloomingdale’s honcho Marvin Traub. These retailing icons must have had plenty to talk about. Ira has a new book just out, The Rise of Fashion and Lessons Learned at Bergdorf Goodman, that’s filled with personal anecdotes from a 17-year tenure at the helm of New York’s legendary luxury emporium. We’re starting it tonight.
24. Pearson’s John Steele
25. The Wall Street Journal‘s David Sanford and Lewis Stein who, I’m sure, are going to be disappointed to hear they left before Caroline Manzo arrived
26. BFF’s Missy Godfrey and Tony Hoyt
27. The New Yorker‘s Lou Cona, Larry Aiken and LVMH’s Pamela Baxter . Act two: PR maven Catherine Saxtonand Patrick Harvey, who, we hear, owns several major television stations in China and is developing software and programming to extend his reach.
28. Todd Meister (Nicky Hilton‘s ex, in case you were wondering)
29. Kira Semler (Where was Vi Huse?) and her friend, ‘Dorothy.’
In the Garden Room: HarperCollins held a VIP fete for author William Boyd in celebration of his latest, Waiting for Sunrise. Publisher Jonathan Burnham and agent Binky Urban welcomed 30-plus media mavens, including Vogue‘s Valerie Steiker, People‘s Kim Hubbard and Bob Minzesheimer of USA Today.
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