Ringing in the Holidays With Harold Ford Jr., Star Jones & Donny Deutsch

1003_mockup.gifThe holiday revelry was in high gear today at Michael’s. Those miracle workers at reception — the amazing Loreal Sherman and Joana Andrade were working overtime to keep the high maintenance crowd happy. (Trust me, doing the seating chart here is an art form!) A little lunch for 13 hosted by Michael McCarty’s wife Kim McCarty was keeping things hopping at table one while a heaping helping of talking heads (Harold Ford Jr., Star Jones, Donny Deutsch), socialites (Becca Thrash, Muffy Potter Aston) and media mavens (Cindi Leive) were toasting the season with plenty of wine and good cheer. Don’t you just love those one percenters?

Diane Clehane & Joan Gelman

I was lunching today with producer Joan Gelman who I met in this very dining room when I first began doing the column. Joan and I have had plenty of great conversations over the years about television (Joan’s amazing resume includes producing stints at CBS and ABC in news and as David Letterman’s producer who remains “a god” to her — “He’s so talented” ) and politics. These days Joan is busier than ever working on a television show she’s got in development in Canada. (The details are top secret at the moment) Shuttling back and forth between here and there is nothing new for her since she produced the hit Triple Sensation there a while back.  Joan is also a passionate Democrat who cares deeply about the issues consuming the country right now — especially the financial inequities that have ignited protests around the country. “We have to do more to even things out,” she told me. Just this morning Joan attended a gathering where U.S. Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren spoke. “She is such an amazing woman,” marvels Joan. “She’s smart, she cares and she wants to restore the spirit of the country.” Joan told me Ms. Warren’s message was a “positive” one and that she believes fervently in healing “the great divide” that has consumed the country and seeped into national politics. We both agreed that she’s facing a tough battle against incumbent Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown because female candidates are held to a different standard than their male counterparts. “She’s a brave woman.” Indeed.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Artist Kim McCarty presiding over her holiday lunch. Among those in attendance: fashion scribe Kate Betts, Vanity Fair contributing editor Amy Fine Collins, photographer Pamela Hansen, art dealer Pat Shea, producer Desiree Gruber and Janet Goldsmith. Cheers!

2. Page Six’s gossip maven Emily Smith and two well-heeled gents.

3. Producer Beverly Cahme, who was eager to introduce me to the co-directors of her latest venture, One Big Lie, the documentary which chronicles Bernie Madoff’s secretary Eleanor Squillari’s take on the downfall of the Ponzi schemer and the explosive aftermath. I was happy to meet Victor Kubicek and Derek Anderson, who just wrapped the film and have signed Cinetic’s John Schloss to rep it, to get their take on the publicity rehabilitation tour that Ruth Madoff and Andrew Madoff tried to mount with Laurie Sandell’s book, Truth and Consequences, and their appearance on 60 Minutes. “I don’t think they asked them any hardball questions,” said Victor.  “There was so much left unanswered.” Of Ruth’s strangely unemotional demeanor on the show Derek offered this: “I don’t think she did herself any favors. In fact, she may have done herself a disservice.” We’ll say this, neither mother nor son came off sympathetic. Eleanor, on the other hand, says Victor, has devoted much of her time since the scandal broke helping victims recover some of their losses working with Irving Picard and has a compelling story to tell. We can’t wait to see the film and will be looking for the invite to the screening early next year.

4. Glamour editrix Cindi Leive (rocking a chic all-black look) and, we hear, some bigwigs from Lancome.

5.  Money man Pete Peterson

6.  A gaggle of blonde social swans: The perennially best dressed Becca Thrash (fresh off the Elizabeth Taylor auction at Christie’s — no word on whether she bought any baubles), Muffy Potter Aston, Cece Cord and two unidentified gal pals.

7.  Paige Peterson and two tweedy Upper East Side types overheard engaging in a spirited discussion a about their favorite books.

8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia and Emilla Saint-Amand.

9.  Harold Ford Jr with an unequally well-dressed gent.

10. Charles Stevenson

11. Wayne Kabak and David Kirkpatrick

12. A foursome of fab fashionistas: Cindy Lewis, Judy Licht, Robert Verdi and Nancy Hodin all celebrating the holidays in style with a spirited exchange of gifts. Between the four of these fun folks, they know everybody who is anybody in fashion.

14. Attorney Richard Descherer (Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attorney, in case you didn’t know) deep in conversation with an distinguished looking silver haired fellow.

15.  Mitch Kanner (Loved the shades and the scarf!)

81. The Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten and ICM’s Helen Shavason

16. Today‘s Marc Victor with the  talkative triumvirate of  Star Jones, Donny Deutsch and Dr. Nancy Synderman who weigh in on the burning issues of the day on the show’s popular bi-weekly “Today’s Professionals” segments. Things must be going great guns because we noticed a lot of pink champagne (how festive!) being poured at the table during lunch.

17. Tony Hoyt

18.  Steve Rattner

19.  USA Today’s Scott Singer one of the paper’s senior ad execs, Laura Hendricks.

20.Joan Gelman and yours truly.

21. Conde Nast’s PR guru Dan Scheffey and AOL’s Steven Yee.

22.  BizBash Media’s CEO & founder David Adler with a trio of impressive gents including Chris Kelly, principal of Sentry Centers. I got a chance to chat with David before lunch today since we both arrived a bit early before the place was overrun with holiday revelers. I’ve always been a fan of BizBash the magazine since every issue is a virtual encyclopedia of event marketing with the rundown on the hottest spaces and places to throw launches, lunches and blowout bashes.  I also find Ted Kruckel’s tell-it-like it is back of the book column about what really goes on in the world of event marketing a fun read. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

23. Ambassador Carl Spielvogel

24.  Legendary ad man (“BMW:The Ultimate Driving Machine”)Martin Puris

25. PR maestro Tom Goodman with financial guru Michael Braun of Braun Business Management.

26. Susan Blond

27. Nick Rubinstein (Long time no see!)

28.  Gilt Groupe’s founder Kevin Ryan

29. The Wall Street Journal’s David Sanford and Lewis Stein

Faces in the crowd: Producer Francine LeFrak forsaking the bustling dining room for a quieter table in the Garden Room … At a nearby table: PR maven Catherine Saxton and Rose Ganguzza.

This is the last “Lunch” of 2011. We’ll be home next week wrapping presents to put under the tree. Here’s hoping your holidays are full of good cheer. See you back here in January!

Please send comments and corrections to DCLEHANE at AOL dot COM and LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.