We’re still recovering from last week’s A-list on steroids pep rally for the Giants (it was like shooting fish in a barrel — thanks, Harvey Weinstein!), but today it’s back to Michael’s for another heaping helping of the power lunch crowd. The scene was dominated by spin meisters of every stripe, social swans and money men. (Is the expense account for middle management making a comeback? Discuss.) Representing the celebrity squad was Star Jones who is always fun for a quick, dishy chat.
I was joined today by House Beautiful editor-in-chief Newell Turner, the magazine’s new food contributor Gabrielle Hamilton, who is the owner/chef of Prune, and publicist Michael McGraw. Newell, who usually eats at his desk, decided he may have to rethink his lunch plans when he spied so many Hearst colleagues sprinkled around the room. Indeed.
As a longtime reader of the magazine, I told Newell that its monthly features on the best paint colors for different types of spaces were indispensable to me when I took on the daunting task of painting the interior of our new home last year. Color, or more precisely, how to choose the best ones to enhance your living space, is one of the guiding principles of the magazine. The March ‘Green’ issue will offer a myriad of takes on how to live with the soothing shade. “Our deep-dive color issues always result in a lot of reader response,” Newell told me. He didn’t know what to expect when he devoted an entire issue to pink but was pleasantly surprised. “We had less complaints about it than when we did our ‘Blue’ issue.” In the April issue, readers will have the chance to pick “America’s Favorite Paint Color” from 10 options in a contest on HouseBeautiful.com. The results will be published in September.
Newell, who became top editor in 2010, decided to focus more on American designers, because “American decorating has come into its own despite the economy.” Readers seem to agree. Last year’s June and July-August issues had the highest newsstand sales since November 2002.
Newell recently brought Gabrielle on board as House Beautiful’s food contributor because, he says, “I liked her sensibility and her appreciation for good, simple food.” For her part, Gabrielle, a self-taught cook, has never fallen victim to precious, of-the-moment trends in foods. The voted Best Chef in New York City in 2010 by the James Beard foundation, Gabrielle attributes her successful run at Prune, which she opened in 1999, to “luck” but then said, “I work very, very hard.” Somehow, she’s found time to write pieces for The New Yorker and The New York Times among many other outlets and had her book, Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (Great title!) land on the Times bestseller list. “People have become obsessed with food — how it looks, how it’s prepared. Look at all the shows there are now on food preparation. I wanted to include it in the magazine in a fresh, new way,” says Newell. “Gabrielle is the perfect person to do that.”
These days, Newell is also working to develop more digital content for the mag’s website and enhanced digital edition available on iTunes. He added videos featuring the magazine’s staff in October. When developing content for that platform, he told me he guards against anything looking “too polished” because “looking a bit rougher” online lends an air of authenticity. Interestingly enough, he also revealed there is only a 7 percent crossover between House Beautiful’s print reader (the target demo is women in their 40s and 50s) and the digital reader who is younger and hipper. (Don’t shoot me; I’m just the messenger). “It’s the same content but a different voice. The digital tone is younger and a bit more irreverent.”
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. The ladies who lunched: Debbie Bancroft, Anne Hearst, Patty Smythe and Laurie Waters
2. Investigation Discovery’s president and GM, Henry Schleiff, and Kerry Kennedy
3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, who stopped by our table to say hello to his old pal Newell Turner and deliver an unexpected little treat to me. This ‘little birdie’ says thanks!
4. Jacqui Safra (Jean Doumanian‘s husband, in case you didn’t know)
5. The early show: Allen & Company’s Stan Shuman. Second act: Christopher Lawford (who we loved on All My Children) and a serious looking fellow we didn’t recognize.
6. Some of the ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Michael Kramer and Jerry Della Femina. We didn’t get the chance to chide the legendary ad man about his prediction that the Pats were going to win the Super Bowl, so we’re doing it now: Never bet against Big Blue, my friend!
7. Newell Turner, Gabrielle Hamilton, Michael McGraw and yours truly
8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia who, we hear, was being filmed by an English television crew who were chronicling the care and feeding of socialites. Cheerio, old bean!
10. Star Jones, resplendent in red with a color coordinated cover for her iPad, and Earl “Butch” Graves, Jr., publisher of Black Enterprise. When I complimented Star on her stylish use of scarlet, she explained, “I’m wearing red for the entire month. I’m a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. They saved my life; it’s the least I can do.” Fresh off her girls’ trip to the Bahamas aboard Denise Rich‘s yacht, the Today show contributor was in full power lunch mode and introduced me to Butch when we discovered we were seated next to each other. I told Butch I’ve seen his father, the legendary Earl Graves, many times at the Scarsdale Metro Restaurant up in Westchester. “I grew up there,” Butch told me. How about those rumors that Jay-Z and Beyonce might be putting down roots on the same block as his family? “I think that talk started when they got engaged. I haven’t heard anything,” he said. We expect to be the first to know when you do!
11. Literary agent Luke Janklow, sporting jeans and his signature cool shades
12. Peter Price
14. Producer (Fatal Attraction, Kramer vs. Kramer) Stanley Jaffe. We caught both films recently on cable — they’ve really aged well.
15. Kurt Mueller and Lord Waheed Ali, who, we hear, made a killing in broadcasting in Britain
16. My pal, producer Joan Gelman, with sons Josh and Gregg
81. PR maven Lisa Linden with Colleen Roche, former press secretary to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and now managing director of Lisa’s firm, Linden Alschuler & Kaplan
17. Charles Schueler
18. Hearst’s high priestess of PR, Deb Shriver (Was that a grey leather dress? Loved it!) and Liz Kaplow
19. Hanna Lee
20. Hotelier Jerry Inzerillo
21. Chairman of Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, Bill Mcgorry and ESPN’s Chuck Pagano
22. Page Six’s Tara Palmeri
23. Hollywoodlife.com’s Bonnie Fuller amd Ion Media’s Brandon Burgess
25. Publicist Michael Kempner
26. Karen Gantz who, we’re told, is Alec Baldwin‘s book agent
27. Conde Nast’s Lou Cona
29. Christopher Simon of CBS
Faces in the crowd: Good Housekeeping‘s Rosemary Ellis catching up with Dorothy Kalins … Town & Country‘s Jay Fielden (Loved your piece in the month’s issue on Ali MacGraw!), Kira Semler and Vi Huse enjoying their monthly champagne lunch at the bar. Cheers!
Please send comments and corrections to DCLEHANE at AOL dot COM and LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.