‘Tis the season for power lunches disguised as holiday celebrations, and this afternoon at Michael’s it was SRO as the moguls (Harvey Weinstein, Tommy Mottola), a perennial party giver (Peggy Siegal and her indefatigable minions) and boldface names (Star Jones, Muffie Potter Aston) poured into the dining room for one head-spinning scene. While Bonnie Fuller and company shoe-horned 14 people comfortably into Table One, Peggy presided over a lunch for 34 in the Garden Room honoring “The Untouchables.” (Although I didn’t see them, I did spot — I think — Malcolm Gladwell and Stu Zakim in the crowd). The rest of the dining room was full of table hoppers and gladhanders — Harvey Weinstein works a room like nobody’s business — and I noticed there was plenty of glasses of red and white wine all around. Cheers!
I was joined today by Anne Fulenwider who has plenty to celebrate these days having “come home” to Marie Claire in September. She was tapped for the top job after Joanna Coles departed for Cosmo when Kate White left to write her best sellers full-time. I know, you need a score card for all this, but do try to keep up. Anne’s extraordinary rise to the top of the masthead is a master class on how to succeed in publishing by being very smart, working hard and staying grounded amid all the glitz and glamour (yes, to civilians and the uninitiated this is a glamorous business). The Harvard graduate came to New York in the mid-nineties and landed her first job in magazines working for David Lauren at Swing. An internship at The Paris Review turned into a gig as research assistant to George Plimpton when he was working on his book on Truman Capote. Anne got quite an education diving into boxes of fascinating transcripts, fact checking scores of Plimpton’s interviews and, occasionally “chopping carrots” at his home and pitching in whenever needed. All in a day’s work.
When the book was done, she went on to become senior editor, moved to Vanity Fair where she was editor of the magazine’s popular “Fanfare” section, and wound up editing the work of Leslie Bennetts, Buzz Bissinger and Dominick Dunne. Except for a brief sojourn to San Francisco, she spent a decade at the magazine where, she said, she “grew up” and was “inspired” by Vanity Fair’s great reporting and writing and learned that “maintaining quality” and upholding the highest journalistic standards (“There were armies of fact checkers and researchers!”) were critical to the vitality and relevance of a successful magazine.
In 2009, Joanna Coles recruited her as Marie Claire‘s executive editor, and Anne found herself energized by the magazine’s message of female empowerment for its 20 and 30 something readers. She was lured away in October 2011 to be editor-in-chief of Bride‘s for a year before returning to Marie Claire this past fall. The move couldn’t come at a better time. The magazine had been named Magazine of the Year by Ad Age, and Anne barely had the boxes unpacked before she took off for San Francisco with publisher Nancy Berger Cardone (who was named Publisher of the Year) to celebrate. Shortly before Thanksgiving, Anne and Nancy then went to Italy where Hearst’s Italian reps toasted Anne’s arrival. Next up: a trip to L.A. next week to meet the all-important celebrity publicists and spend some time with Marie Claire‘s new entertainment director Tracy Shaffer, a former PMK publicist who most recently toiled at Cosmo and is based on the West Coast.
Anne told me her return to Marie Claire has been a joyous one as many of the staffers were there during her executive editor days (she hired several of them and has promoted many since returning). On her first day as editor, she greeted the staff by saying, “So, what did I miss?” She recently promoted Lea Goldman to features director and upped Nina Garcia to creative director. Anne says the successful magazine’s involvement in Project Runway will continue — she will appear in the Marie Claire episode next season.
While there is a world of difference between being executive editor and editor-in-chief (“It’s so much bigger!”), Anne says she’s most surprised by “how great the clothes are” and how much time needs to be devoted to hair and makeup for those all-important appearances as EIC. This working mother of two small children looked flawless today in Gucci and some gorgeous YSL purple suede platforms, but vows that Marie Claire will never be a place where fashion gospel is passed down from on high to the reader. “We’re about accessible, smart fashion,” she says. “We’re about fashion for women’s real lives.”
Anne’s first editor’s letter appears in December, but her first official issue will come in March. “There is no redesigned planned,” says Anne pointing to the magazine’s healthy circulation and 1 million Twitter followers as signs that readers are engaged and committed to “an ongoing dialogue” with its editors. She does plan some “tweaking” that is sure to put her own stamp on the magazine, as well as more involvement with the magazine’s Web presence. She is likely to focus on the issues that readers care most about in the personal and professional lives. Just last week, Marie Claire hosted a luncheon celebrating ‘The Power of Presence’ to discuss the ways women can get ahead in the workplace (“things men seem to pass on to each other without even noticing”). It’s a subject Anne clearly knows something about. In her December editor’s letter, she advised readers: always work with the most talented people you can find and seek out jobs that challenge you. It’s certainly worked for her.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Hollywoodlife.com editrix Bonnie Fuller with Penske Media Vice Chair Gerry Byrne and Hollywoodlife.com EVP and publisher Carlos Lamadrid. I was just thinking it’s been a while since Bonnie and her tireless team hosted one of their SRO lunches, and it turns out that today’s lunch was the 2.0 version of a date cancelled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Today’s guest list included Kenneth Cole CEO Paul Blum; fab fashionista Stephanie Winston Wolkoff; Coty Beauty’s Simone Bolotin; Dior Beauty’s Bryn Kenny; Variety‘s Millie Chiavelli; NBC Universal’s Scott Schiller; Diana Miller; EP of “Live From the Couch,” and IMG’s Ivan Bart. Whew!
2. Allen Grubman
3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and David Zinczenko, who made headlines last week with the news he was leaving Rodale after an incredibly successful run as brand builder extraordinaire for Men’s Health. If you ask me, Dave looked ready to take on the world as he fielded a long line of well wishers eager to hear about his next and so far unannounced new venture. Something big, no doubt.
4. A late arriving Harvey Weinstein and Dan Glasser
5. The Early Show: Stan Shuman. Second seating: Producer Beverly Camhe, who introduced me to journo Allan Dodds Frank who appears in Beverly’s upcoming documentary on Bernie Madoff. In a case of life imitating art, Allan tells me that he recently spotted Ruth Madoff in an Upper West Side restaurant. “It wasn’t any place like this,” he told me, declining to name the eatery in question. However, he said he was surprised that he was the only one that seemed to notice the wife of the most hated man in New York. “I wanted to ask the waiter how she paid and what name was on the credit card but I abstained,” he said. Fair warning: if Ruth ever decided to show up at Michael’s (unlikely, I know), we won’t be as polite.
6. Accessories maven Mickey Ateyeh
7. William Wolf and Cornelia Wolf, holding court with a few friends and marveling at Michael’s festive holiday decor
8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia with legendary lenswoman Mary Hilliard. I was shocked to see Mary, one of Gotham’s most beloved party photographers, actually taking some time away from work and being part of the scene rather than discreetly shooting the action with her ever present camera. “I’m trying to retire!” she told me. If that’s true, her presence at every A-list party would be sorely missed. Today, Mary was looking every inch the lady of leisure in an elegantly tailored jacket adorned with a gorgeous floral pin. “It’s Kenny Jay Lane inspired by Verdura,” she said, fingering the glittering gem. “And it’s so light you can wear it on a chain. That’s what Kenny does so brilliantly.” For more on Mary’s amazing career, check out the Style issue of Departures which boasts a charming shot of Mary in full party mode on the cover.
9. Alexandre Chemla
11. A very refreshed looking Tommy Mottola, who chatted up Allen Grubman and Harvey Weinstein between bites.
12. Hamilton South
15. Benjamin Lambert
16. Anne Fulenwider and yours truly
81. Larry Kirshbaum
17. David Pecker
18. Act One: Stephen Swid. Chapter Two: PR powerhouse and political commentator Robert Zimmerman and Muffie Potter Aston. I stopped by to chat with Robert, who I hadn’t seen since our pre-election lunch, to ask him to pass along an ardent plea to President Barack Obama ala Chris Noth to not let us go over that dreaded fiscal cliff. He assured me that won’t happen for a host of reasons. One, our elected officials’ survival depends on it not happening; secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the president now has to consider how history will view his two terms in office. “The second term is about building his legacy,” says Robert. Okay, we feel a little bit better. Now about the possibility of limiting the home mortgage deduction…
20. Wednesday Martin
21. Michael Kassan
22. Star Jones and pals
23. Tech guru Shelly Palmer
24. Artemis Records’ Daniel Glass
25. John Huey
26. Robert Manning
27. Marie Brenner, Peggy Noonan, Merryl Tisch, Jessica Guff and Drew Guff
28. The Municipal Art Society’s Vin Cipolla
29. Tamara Rogers
Please send comments and corrections to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.