Despite the worst case of Gotham gridlock in months (Thanks, Mr. President), there were plenty of media heavy hitters (Jann Wenner, John Huey), high-profile editors (Martha Nelson, Kate White) and a spin sister (Peggy Siegal) at Michael’s today. While the power lunch set was chewing over their next big deal between bites, I had a dishy lunch with Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger and my good friend, the network’s SVP of communications, Jennifer Geisser. If you’ve seen any part of Matchmaker, you know that Patti tells it like she sees it no matter what. “I’m a truth-teller; that’s it,” she told me after sharing some particularly searing commentary on some boldface names we all know. Sorry, but it’s off the record.
Fortunately, Patti did let loose over lunch and share her thoughts on her ‘overnight success’ — “Total bullshit. I worked my ass off for years,” she said. It certainly sounds that way. Before starting Millionaire’s Club International in 2000, she toiled in a number of positions ranging from garment center executive to astrologer before finally landing at Great Expectations, the country’s largest matchmaking service, running their Florida division and then as their director of marketing. Quickly realizing she had a knack for finding dates for just about everyone she met, she started her own firm and, she tells me, grossed $1 million the first year.
In 2001, she had a fateful meeting with Telepictures and pitched an idea for a reality show where one man would find love by ‘dating’ a group of women. Sounds familiar? Thanks to an inept agent at ICM (“He was terrible,” says Patti), The Bachelor premiered without Patti’s involvement and went on to become TV ratings gold. Undeterred, Patti “cried for a night,” got a new agent and moved on. After a few other stops and starts involving, among others, Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest, Patti found a television home with Bravo in 2008 with The Millionaire Matchmaker and is currently in her fifth season of the show. Her dating pet peeves? Rude guys: “I want to teach young men some manners. They’ve got to learn to be gentlemen.” Scantily clad girls: “I always tell them ‘leave the Fredrick’s at home.'” And mothers who think their sons walk on water: “Jewish and Italian mothers are the worst. They think their sons are messiahs and expect everyone to treat them like one. It makes dating them impossible.”
Patti’s take-no-prisoners approach on and off screen is paying off big time. She recently inked her own development deal with Bravo and is developing original programming for the network. She’s also working on a screenplay with Destin Jude Pfaff based on her best selling book Be Your Own Matchmaker (Simon & Schuster). “It’s a romantic comedy and I want Lake Bell to play me,” says Patti, who is also working on a cookbook tentatively titled Man Catching Meals. Unlike so many of her fellow ‘Bravolebrities,’ she says she never sought fame for its own sake and isn’t intent on staying on television forever. “You have to have an endgame and this is mine. My dream has always been to be a screenwriter, so this is great for me.”
While Patti sticks to civilians on her Bravo show, I asked her which celebrity who has been unlucky in love she’d like to get her hands on. “Sandra Bullock,” she said without a moment’s hesitation. As for who she’d pair up with the Oscar winner: “No celebrities. She needs someone wealthy, a captain of industry who isn’t threatened by her.” In other words, the anti-Jesse James. This season Patti turned to her staff to find a guy for herself but, says Patti, they came up short. “They didn’t get my type right,” she told me. “The number one rule of matchmaking is get the person’s type right.” And who might that be for Ms. Stanger? “I go for the rugged type, someone tall who can work with their hands. I’m not interested in getting a mani pedi with a guy.” Okay, so metrosexuals need not apply, but if you happen to know a single stud who knows his way around a tool box, you know where to send him.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Jann Wenner with a well-heeled gent we didn’t get to meet
2. Literary agent Luke Janklow and Richard Heller
3. Former HBO head honcho Michael Fuchs
4. Time Inc.’s John Huey with editorial director Martha Nelson and Sid Evans, newly named Group Editor of Time Inc’s lifestyle division.
5. Michael J. Wolf and Deborah Fine
6. Most of ‘The Imber Gang’ : Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Andy Bergman
7. Niche Media head Jason Binn, who finished off lunch by asking Michael’s Steve Millington to take some table side photos of him and his pal.
8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia
9. Random House EVP Jon Meacham — wonder what he thinks of Tina Brown’s tinkering with Newsweek? The next time we see him, we’ll find out and let you know.
11. Long time, no see: Cathie Black and HGTV founder Ken Lowe. Is the former Hearst president headed to the small screen? Stay tuned.
12. High priestess of PR Peggy Siegal
14. Money man Stephen Swid
16. United Stations Radio’s Nick Verbitsky
81. Cosmo editrix Kate White (loved the leopard print blouse!) and BWR’s Melissa Raubvogel. In case you haven’t heard, Kate’s latest book, The Sixes, got rave reviews and is a must read if you love mysteries. Don’t miss it!
17. Desiree Gruber (aka Mrs. Kyle Maclachlan) and Washington power broker (and former television producer) Tammy Haddad
18. Abernathy & MacGregor’s Jim Abernathyand Ed Klein
19. Author Pamela Keogh and PR maven (who, we hear, specializes in beauty) Cathy O’Brien
20. Corcoran’s Shari Rollins (aka Mrs. Ed Rollins), looking chic in black and white
22. RBC’s Richard Fitzburgh
23. CBS’ David Poltrack
24. Myra Biblowit of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation
25. Joel Moser
26. Attorney Richard Bressler and Mary Berner
27. Patti Stanger, Jennifer Geisser and yours truly
28. Steven Kaiser
Please send comments and corrections to DCLEHANE at AOL dot COM or LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot com.