Our weekly lunches at Michael’s always deliver plenty of star power and today was no exception. When I arrived a little before noon, I was followed in the door by none other than George Lucas, who, I’m told, happened to be walking by the restaurant yesterday with his new baby daughter and her nanny in tow when he inquired if there might be a way to “squeeze him in” today. I kid you not. He’s always seemed incredibly low key on his many visits to 55th and Fifth any time I’ve seen him here. Today, the multiple Academy Award winner showed up casually clad in his signature look: a sport short, jeans and sneakers and headed right for his table, forsaking the glad handing that is favored by his fellow West Coast brethren. Despite being the first one there, he was one of the last to leave, spending the entire time deep in conversation with an elegant white-haired lady we didn’t recognize. Talking about the joys of fatherhood, perhaps?
The room filled up quickly with plenty of familiar faces, including social types and publishing big wigs (Kerry Kennedy, Jay Fielden, Jay McInerney, Jack Kliger) as well as a fair number of fashionable folks (Joe Zee, Tomas Maier, Fern Mallis). Unfortunately my date was under the weather, so after I made my rounds I hightailed it over to Cipriani 42nd Street, where there were plenty of Michael’s regulars on hand to salute Discovery Communications president and CEO David Zaslav, who was honored with the Fred Dressler Leadership Award at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University’s Mirror Awards. In attendance: Gayle King (mistress of ceremonies), Discovery ID’s Henry Scleiff and Tom Freston, who came back from a trip to Afghanistan so he could present the award to his longtime pal “The Zas.” Tom affectionately called David “a colorful cowboy” and reminisced of David’s earliest days in cable when he “kicked some ass!”
At the Mirror Awards, I slipped into my seat at my table, hosted by board member and awards judge Howard Polskin, EIC of Thin Reads. I met fellow guests author David Noonan; Kyle Pope, EIC of Straus Media-Manhattan; RLM Finsbury’s Ed Adler; Christa Robinson, Tribune’s chief commuincations officer; Matt Vook, co-founder of Vook; Cris Dinozo, Answers’ chief communications officer; and author Lisa DePaulo. I was particularly thrilled to meet Howard and Lisa because we first “met” on Facebook where, after every episode of Mad Men, we have been dissecting the minutiae of every episode of Matthew Weiner‘s brilliant, but often-maddening creation for years. This season we took turns hosting viewing parties on Facebook, where the comments during any given episode could reach into the hundreds. We all admitted to going through something of a withdrawl at the moment and are waiting anxiously for the final seven episodes that will air in 2015. So, Mr. Weiner, ratings may have fallen off a cliff during this incredibly depressing mini-season, but we diehards will be here when you return.
Regardless of everything else and the numerous other awards given out, it was clearly David’s day from the shark centerpieces on the tables (the Discovery honcho has been known to come to Michael’s with the very same stuffed critter tucked under his arm to kick off the network’s “Shark Week”) to the congratulatory video that featured high praise from friends and colleagues, including Tom Brokaw, who cited David as “a great offensive player,” Henry Schleiff, who cited his boss for his vision to do things “the classy way” and Oprah Winfrey, who basically admitted that David was OWN’s white knight. I’ll say.
When he finally took the stage (for this special occasion, he even traded his signature fleece vest for a suit — but no tie), David revealed to the audience that his kids had just sent him congratulatory texts, but his high school sweetheart and wife “of more than 27 years,” Pam, was in the audience. “They live a different life,” he said of his son, off studying in Madrid with fellow Syracuse students, his daughter relaxing on the beach in Mykonos and his eldest, currently working at Twitter. Perhaps, but one thing has stayed the same. It pays to have a powerful father.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd at Michael’s:
1. Kerry Kennedy and David Kuhn
2. Lovey Arun — Love that name!
3. Yahoo’s EIC of their fashion vertical Joe Zee with, so we’re told, a PR gal from Carolina Herrera
4. The early bird gets the Oscar: George Lucas with an elegant silver-haired gal we didn’t recognize
5. Allen & Co.’s Stan Shuman
6. Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina. Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer
7. Fashionista Fern Mallis
8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia with my pal PR maven Leslie Stevens and two other well heeled folks
9. Star Jones
10. Uber agent Lynn Nesbitt
11. Mickey Ateyeh and Adria Raush
12. Andrew Stein
14. Simon & Schuster’s Alice Mayhew
15. Jerry Inzerillo
16. Chanel’s Susan Duffy presiding over a table for four
17. Shirley Lord
18. Town & Country’s EIC Jay Fielden, fresh off the magazine’s inaugural philanthropy summit (what an inspiring idea!) with author Jay Mcinerney
20. Producer Joan Gelman with broadcasting icon Joan Hamburg. I was glad I had the opportunity to talk to Joan about her shocking ouster last week from her perch at WOR after more than 35 years with the station. “I didn’t see it coming,” she told me of her out of left field firing. “I never in a million years thought this would happen. I’m still trying to process.” She recalled the events of that day for me like this: “I was getting ready to go on the air when saw someone from human resources and I thought, ‘Someone is sick and they’re going to ask me to go on for them.” Instead, she was shown the door that day without any warning. While she admits that the station has the right to let anyone go, she calls the decision to deprive listeners of a proper farewell as “despicable” saying “I love my audience and they deserved better.” This consummate pro respected by all who know her remains optimistic. “I’m the ultimate Pollyanna,” she said with a smile. “For all of us, there is life out there. Every ending is a new beginning.” While she’s not ready to say much about them, she has been fielding calls from interested parties. Stay tuned…
21. Bottega Veneta’s Tomas Maier
22. Bookseller Glenn Horowitz
23. Headbutler.com’s Jesse Kornbluth, Wendy Goldberg and Marshall Cohen
24. Jack Kliger
25. Mark Rosenthal
27. Peter Price and Lynn Scherr
28. Digital Place Based Advertising president Barry Frey
29. The Wall Street Journal’s David Sanford and Lewis Stein
81. Jane Hartley with an elegantly attired tall lady (Loved the hat!), who seemed to know everyone in the room. Anyone?
82. Hearst’s PR princess Deb Shriver
Diane Clehane is a contributor to FishbowlNY. Follow her on Twitter @DianeClehane. Please send comments and corrections on this column to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.