— DIANE CLEHANE
What recession? The dining room at 55th & Fifth was buzzing with the usual assemblage of bold face names, social swans and television types that tucked into their Cobb salads with gusto while digesting some of the week’s harrowing headlines. Hollywood figured heavily into many of today’s conversation with folks reeling from the shocking death of Heath Ledger and others seriously contemplating the possibility of a celebrity-free Academy Awards. IGM’s Fern Mallis, who is days away from kicking off Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, hopes cooler heads will prevail on the left coast and everyone is back on the red carpet come Oscar night. “With the economy tanking, it’s not about seeing pretty dresses on the red carpet,” says Fern. “It’s about having so many people being put out of work as a result of the strike. We need this Oscar to happen for a lot of reasons.” The one bright spot: since the stars aren’t working at the moment, Fern expects a slew of celebrities to show up at Bryant Park. At the top of her wish list: George Clooney. “I’d always find a seat for him.’ Perhaps when the newly minted best actor nominee wraps up his rumored role in the negotiations to get everybody back to work, he’ll make time for a pit stop in New York. Here’s hoping …
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, Sharon Hoge and a table full of handsome gents.
2. Richard Rubenstein.
3. Peter Price.
4. Esther Newberg with ‘Barefoot Contessa’ Ina Garten.
5. Harper Collins’ Jane Friedman.
6. Kathie Lee Gifford, Eduardo Verastegui & Lisa Dallos. Kathie Lee (looking splendid in vintage Ralph Lauren winter whites) joked with me about one tabloid’s breathless report of her close friendship with the dashing Eduardo, the star and producer of the critically acclaimed Bella. “I told my husband he needs to come to lunch with us,” she quipped. “And I made sure I had my wedding ring on today!”
7. Phoebe Eaton.
8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia with FishbowlNY’s Ron Mwangaguhunga.
9. Pamela Keogh, proudly sporting her Obama button — “I got on the bandwagon early. I made up my mind last spring.” While she gave kudos to ‘grown up’ John Edwards‘ amusing appearance on last night’s David Letterman show, my pal was positively gleeful about the editorial in today’s New York Observer . Pamela’s lunch date was investor James Curtis.
11. Joan Gelman.
12. Jack Kliger.
14. CNBC’s Jonathan Wald & Newsweek‘s Johnnie Roberts. I stopped by their table to get their take on Wall Street’s stomach churning ride this week. “No one knows where the bottom is going to be,” says Jonathan. But fear not. Johnnie’s advice for the faint of heart is don’t call your broker in a panic. “It’s about the long term.” And, if you need help deciphering it all, says Jonathan. “Watch CNBC. We’ll tell you everything you need to know.”
15. Frank Bowling .
16. Dr. Gerry Imber & the gang …
17. Chris Kaufman of Kaufman — Astoria Studios.
18. David Carey.
19. Mitty Liebsohn.
20. Glamour editrix Cindi Leive (looking fab in a killer Givenchy mini trench, Yves Saint Laurent skirt and Michael Kors platforms) with Dave Zinczenko fresh off his appearance on Ellen yesterday. When does this man sleep? The tireless Men’s Health honcho has the No. 1 book on Amazon — Eat This, Not That. Congrats!
21. Quest‘s Chris Meigher.
22. Leslie Farrand.
23. Tom Kane.
24. Jordan Rangel.
25. Tom Goodman — making his first visit of the new year. Welcome back!
26. Keith Bellows.
27. Fern Mallis.
28. Scott Singer.
29. Univision’s Maryam Banikarim.
30. Veranda‘s Donna Player
Please send comments and corrections to DianeClehane AT mediabistro Dot com and lunch at mediabistro DOT com.