The A-List Returns! Barbara Walters, Charlie Rose, Barry Diller Hold Court at Michael’s


As Januarys go, this one has been a bit of a snoozer, but things are finally picking up now that the boldface names have returned to their regular perches at Michael’s. The joint was jumping today as morning talkers (Charlie Rose, Barbara Walters), media moguls (Barry Diller) and fashionistas (Marie Claire‘s Joanna Coles) were all in full power lunch mode. It’s about time!

I was joined today by Seventeen editor-in-chief Ann Shoket and Hearst executive director of public relations Alexandra Carlin. It’s been a while since Seventeen was required reading in my house (I still remember begging my father to drive me to the stationary store,  so I could be the first to get the magazine’s coveted September back to school issue). Back then, I’d devour every oversize page, finding tons of inspiration and validation about surviving the treacherous teenage years in one piece — and in style.

Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Ann, who celebrated her fifth anniversary with the magazine last week, says she feels a “huge responsibility” to readers, which means addressing the issues they care most about (a tall order to say the least). Between dealing with ‘sextortion’ (boyfriends threatening to dump girls if they don’t submit sexually) and the barrage of unrealistic images of physical perfection all around them, today’s teenage girls, says Ann, are under “huge pressure” all while dealing with the requisite drama that comes with being a high school girl.  Seventeen‘s mission is to empower teenage girls (the average reader is 16), often by reporting on celebrities who can be a source of inspiration.  For next month’s cover, the magazine scored the first interview with a post-rehab Demi Lovato who opens up about how she battled back from anorexia, bulimia, bipolar disorder and cutting. “Demi was amazing. It’s so refreshing to have a celebrity be honest about their struggles. It’s great for girls to read about someone like that.”

Diane Clehane, Ann Shoket and Alexandra Carlin
Diane Clehane, Ann Shoket and Alexandra Carlin

Seventeen, says Ann, is also a resource for girls about subjects they might want to talk about with their parents, but can’t. Topic A: ‘Digital Drama’ — the magazine’s clever moniker for ‘cyber bullying’ which “sounds so nineties.” Seventeen is so committed to wiping out the epidemic that Ann created the ‘Delete Digital Drama’ campaign for the magazine. “We only had to deal with the mean girl phone calls, but today social media has created so many more outlets for bullying to happen. It’s a serious problem.”

Ann, who has logged 15 years editing for teen girls and was part of the Cosmo Girl launch team, is in constant contact with the magazine’s readers through social media. “We have to be there wherever and whenever the girls want to talk,” she explains. Seventeen has 1.2 million Facebook fans and 100,000 followers on Twitter;  Ann has 10,000 Facebook followers and 15,000 Twitter followers of her own. The magazine’s app went on sale on iTunes in December. “It’s all in the mix.” Seventeen also has an active online community where Ann hosts regular online chats with readers, answering their questions about the things they care most about.

One of the most frequently asked questions, says Ann, is ‘How do I get on the cover of Seventeen? “I tell them the girls we put on the cover are just like them: passionate, talented and ambitious.” To prove her point, Ann and her team created the “Pretty Amazing” contest sponsored by Neutrogena last year where one girl was selected from 35,000 entries to be the magazine’s first reader to grace Seventeen‘s cover. The winner, 19-year-old Zoe Damacela, is a former homeless teen who started a successful design business after  being unable to find what she liked at Goodwill. Zoe’s business plan earned her the top prize in a national competition, giving her the chance to meet President Obama and appear on The Tyra Show. She’s now putting herself through Northwestern with the money she earns selling her designs. “You have to be pretty and amazing to be on the cover of Seventeen and Zoe is definitely both.”  Inspired by the contest’s success, Seventeen is doing it again with Neutrogena this year. The winner will receive a $20,000 college scholarship.

I told Ann all this is very good news to someone like me who has a 6-year-old daughter and worries about her future. “I’m in awe of teenage girls and the power they have in the world,” says Ann. “Our readers are smart, passionate and want to give back to the world. We’re in good hands.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Barbara Walters and celebrated architect Sir Norman Foster, Princess Firyal, Robert Silvers and Gil Shiva.

3.  Shalom! Mayor Joe Armstrong, fresh off his trip to Israel with Fred Newman of Prairie Home Companion, Katy Dobbs and Bourne Welsh (wife of the late, beloved Don Welsh)

4.  Barry Diller (who gave Barbara Walters a big hello) and a mystery gent no one seemed to know. Observed one regular: “We don’t know who that guy is, but I’ve never seen Barry smile so much.” Okay then.

5. Herb Siegel and Frank Gifford. We’re taking the sighting of the New York Giants legend as a good omen. Go Big Blue!

6.  Most of ‘The Imber Gang:’ Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield and Andy Bergman

7. Ann Shoket, Alexandra Carlin and yours truly

8.  New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia and his business partner Jeff Hirsch. After my lunch with Ann and Alex, I stopped by David’s table to meet Jeff, the man behind the absolutely glorious images that accompany David’s informative and entertaining reporting every day. This is NYSD’s 12th year, and David tells me the secret to their successful partnership is “We communicate all the time, but we’re never together in the same place.” Sounds like a match made in heaven to us. While David is out and about all over Gotham at  the best parties and chic soirees, Jeff prefers to keep a much lower profile by photographing the city in all its glory and keeping the site looking simply fabulous. A little birdie told me that, on a recent afternoon at Michael’s, GM Steve Millington asked for everyone to join him for a champagne toast on the occasion of  David’s 1,000th lunch at Michael’s. That’s what we call a milestone. David, we salute you!

9. Shari Rollins and Jennifer Keil

11. Marie Claire‘s uber chic editrix, Joanna Coles

12. Judy Price

14. Cathie Black and a well-heeled, well-accessorized brunette gal who was the first to arrive in the dining room today

15.  A very dapper Tony Hoyt (loved that suit!) and Patrick Murphy

16. Gannett’s Maryam Banikarim and ex-CNN honcho Jon Klein

81. Hotelier Jerry Inzerillo

17.  Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon

18.  Attorney Allen Grubman and CBS This Morning host Charlie Rose. If you were wondering how Charlie, a notorious night owl, is adapting to his new up-before-dawn schedule, he looked pretty bright eyed to us.

20.  My friend, producer Joan Gelman, and Sandy Pearl who, we hear, is busier than ever these days as an art adviser

21.  Jay Kriegel

22. Producer Steven Haft

23. Peter Price

82. Shelley Zalis

24. Thomas H. Lee Partner’s managing director, Richard Bressler

25. MediaLink founder Michael Kassan

26. Fairchild Fashion Group’s CEO, Gina Sanders

27. Lynne White and a doppelganger gal pal

28. Jim Smith

29. MediaLink’s Wenda Millard

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