— DIANE CLEHANE
It’s a lo-cal edition of lunch today. We’re chalking it up to near Spring-like weather (I don’t know about you, but I’m burning my winter coat when we finally have two days over 60) and plenty of recent rumblings about companies tightening the reins on expense accounts. What’s a media maven to do? You’ve still gotta eat. And if there’s business to be done — or you’re looking for your next big thing — Michael’s is still the place to be to connect with the power brokers that aren’t chained to their desks. Today, besides the regulars, the crowd was sprinkled with a liberal (no pun intended) dose of media mavens and business types with a former senator (Bill Bradley) thrown in for good measure. The mood in the dining room was a bit low-key, but I’m guessing there was still plenty of deals being struck over those burgers.
I was lunching today with my pal Brian Balthazar, HGTV’s director of programming. Brian and I met at Michael’s when he was working as supervising producer of Today‘s fourth hour with those chatty gals Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. Now that Brian is getting up at a far more civilized hour, he’s got time for things besides television, including doing stand-up (His next gig is on April 15 at Comix). His new-ish job at HGTV is keeping him plenty busy, though, overseeing 18 shows with some great new projects in the works, including programming that will offer viewers an up close and personal look at celebrity homes. Brian also tells me he’s retooling the network’s popular House Hunters series to inject a bit “more reality” into the show and reflect more of what buyers are going through during these recessionary times. Still, though, there’s plenty of escapism (Thank God!) on offer. “During tough times, people really like to see beautiful homes and be inspired. There’s a voyeuristic quality to real estate that people love.”
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Laurie Tisch and a table full of pals
2. Peter Brown
3. Kerry Kennedy and James Wolfensohn, former head of The World Bank. Second seating: producers Jon Hart and Fred Zollo
4. Steve Rubenstein and Norman Pearlstine
5. CNBC’s Jonathan Wald and pal Bianna Golodryga of ABC News. We wanted to go over to get Jon to weigh in on the much talked-about dust up between Jim Cramer and Jon Stewart, but he dashed out before we made our way over to his table…
6. The Imber Gang: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman
7. Manolo Blahnik’s main man George Malkemus, who was nice enough to introduce me to his guest, Michael Kaong of ModernLuxury.com
8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia and a glamorous-looking blonde gal we recognized but whose name escapes us…
9. Susan Silver and, we hear, an Israeli beauty queen. A little birdie told me that Susan once wrote for the Mary Tyler Moore show. Just thought you’d like to know…
11. Maureen Reidy and another dark-haired gal
12. Dan Klores’ president Sean Cassidy
14. Michael J. Wolf and a doppelganger pal
15. Jack Kliger, who passed the time waiting for Missy Godfrey by chatting with wine director Seth Liebman about their mutual passion for great grapes…
16. Brian Balthazar and yours truly
17. First act: Actress Polly Bergen, who cracked us up on Desperate Housewives as a pot-smoking granny, and Diane Sokolow; Second shift: Patricia Watt and Beverly Camhe.
18. Legendary lensman Harry Benson (who wins today’s Best Dressed award — he’s always so dapper), who was recently named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire with another distinguished gent. Cheerio!
20. Jane Hartley
21. Quest‘s Chris Meigher with his lookalike daughter Elizabeth and an unidentified blonde gal
22. Alice Glantz
23. Ambassador Carl Spielvogel
24. Martin Puris
25. Victor Garvey
26. Ann Rapp
27. Former senator Bill Bradley. The distinguished statesman-turned-author also has his own radio show on Sirius XM radio, American Voices, in case you didn’t know …
29. My pal, author Pamela Keogh
Please send comments and corrections to DianeClehane AT mediabistro Dot com and lunch at mediabistro DOT com.