It was SRO at Michael’s today. The dining room was a tasty mix of media mavens with a heaping helping of politicos and a dash of flash with a very tall L.A. Laker. (We don’t follow basketball, but several guys in the room made sure we knew it was Matt Barneswho made heads turn.)
I was joined by Andrew Amill, VP of media sales at Weight Watchers, who, unlike many of his colleagues in publishing is seeing some extraordinary numbers these days. “This is a record year in the history of the brand driven by The Points Plus system and [spokesperson] Jennifer Hudson,” Andy tells me. The numbers speak for themselves: Newsstand sales are up 10 percent; print ad revenue is up eight percent. Online, the business is exploding with an impressive 25 percent jump in ad revenue.
As a lifetime members of Weight Watchers, I told Andy I’d been a longtime fan of the brand but was really impressed by their canny selection of Hudson as a spokesperson. “She has a lot of credibility with members and readers,” says Andy, and that’s translated into plenty of new members who have joined because of the amazing results the Oscar winner got from the program. In fact, the cover of this month’s issue features an attractive array of men and women, ‘real life success stories’ that attest to the program’s sweeping success. This is definitely not your mother’s Weight Watchers.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Atttorney Rob Barnett, presiding over a table of business types
2. Wayne Kabak and Lauren Green
3. Oxygen Media founder Geraldine Laybourne
4. Producer Francine LeFrak and some colorfully dressed social swells
5. Former HBO head Michael Fuchs and Nancy Peretsman
6. The ‘Imber Gang:’ Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman. Welcome back!
7. Euan Rellie with an equally sartorially splendid gent
8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia with Emilia Saint Amand
9. Author Molly Jong Fast (Erica’s daughter) and Jamie Brickhouse
11. Cablevision’s Barry Frey, who was nice enough to stop by my table to introduce me to his good pal, Charles Bonan of XLR8 Films. Nice to meet you!
12. Lanky literary lion Luke Janklow
14. The early show: Jim Abernathy of Abernathy & MacGregor; second seating: MSG’s Phil Robinson with L.A. Laker Matt Barnes. Yes, he needed plenty of leg room.
16. Betsy Perry and Jennifer Hensley
81. Andrew Amill and yours truly
17. MPA’s Nina Link
18. PR maven Lisa Linden with Edward F. Cox, chairman of New York Republican State Committee and Richard Nixon’s son-in-law. (He’s married to Tricia.) They were celebrating the stunning upset of conservative republican and former television executive Bob Turner over democratic state assemblyman David Weprinin the special election held to fill the congressional seat vacated by disgraced sexter Anthony Weiner.
When they stopped by my table to say hello, the conversation inevitably turned to politics. Mr Cox told me Turner’s victory’s was “most definitely a referendum on the Obama administration,” adding, “It’s all about jobs and job creation.” The majority of voters in the district, “the working class,” came out to make their voices heard over their disappointment over the president’s policies, he explained. The other big issue: the administration’s position on Israel and its perceived lack of support. Turner supporter and former New York City mayor Ed Koch seemed to have swayed enough voters who cared about that issue to cross party lines. The seat once held by democratic stalwarts Geraldine Ferraro and Chuck Schumer was turned over to a republican for the first time in decades. What are the national implications? Stay tuned.
19. Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at this table: Fox News Business anchor Alexis Glick, huddled deep in conversation with New York’s former first lady Michelle Paterson.
20. Uber agent Rob Weisbach
21. James Ellis
22. Democratic National Committee chairman Andrew Tobias
23. Joe Smith and his charming wife, Donni. Michael McCarty introduced us to the music industry legend who was seated directly behind our table telling us, “This man is the greatest deejay that ever lived!” Immediately we wanted to know more. It turns out this soft spoken fellow also once ran Capitol-EMI Records and signed a little band known as The Grateful Dead. These days, he’s living the life traveling to all is favorite places. Joe told me the couple is headed to Italy and Paris in a few days to visit some remote wineries. Some people just know how to live, don’t they?
24. Geoffrey Beene’s EVP Merle Sloss
25. David Sanford of The Wall Street Journal and Louis Stein, who were the first to arrive in the dining room
26. CBS’ Liza Finley and playwright Mart Crowley
27. Gillian Tett of the Financial Times
28. Michael Christianson
29. Emelio Disanluciano
30. Catherine Saxton
Faces in the crowd: Avon president Andrea Jung and Vartan Gregorian (at separate tables) in the garden room.
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