It was SRO at Michael’s today. The dining room was so jam packed every sqaure inch was occupied by a mogul (Mel Karmazin!), media heavyweight (Tom Brokaw, Jon Meacham, Jeff Zucker), or social swan (divorcee of the moment, Mercedes Bass who moved to the Garden Room with pal Lynn Nesbitt when the decibel level and fabulousness of it all got to be too much). Just a thought: if you’re looking for a quiet, out of the way lunch spot, you might want to consider going somewhere else on Wednesday.
I was joined today by Forbes‘ new editor, Randall Lane. In his new position, Randall is presiding over familiar territory to him: the lives of the ridiculously rich and ambitious. In a previous life, he was the editor of Trader Monthly which chronicled the age of excess of the Wall Streeter of days gone by. That experience later provided plenty of fodder for his book, The Zeroes: My Misadventures in the Decade When Wall Street Went Insane. In the interim, he’s been an editor at large for Newsweek and written for The Daily Beast. Having worked with him years ago when he was the editor in chief on the startup Justice, which covered the hot trials and legal issues of the day, I was thrilled when I heard he’d gotten the top job at Forbes back in September.
Randall first worked at Forbes fresh out of college in the nineties and spent six years “chasing rich people” and working on the franchise’s venerated power lists which required (and still do) hundreds of hours of research and manpower. “In some ways, it feels like I never left,” he tells me.
Since taking the helm, Randall has been on a mission to make the book more visually exciting with interesting photography (the arresting cover image of Bill Gates in the “World’s 70 Most Powerful People” issue is a winner), fresh design elements courtesy of the Brooklyn-based shop Athletics, a livelier front of book section and more in-depth profiles on people the Forbes reader wants to know about. Exhibit A: The cover story in the November 7 issue on Dropbox’s Drew Houston, the 28 year-old mogul who turned down Steve Jobs and is now worth $600 million which drew one million hits on Forbes.com.
Randall chose Sean Parker for the cover of The Forbes 400 issue. “I saw Sean at a party recently, and he told me that being on the cover changed the way a lot of people saw him,” says Randall. “Forbes has always had a point of view and a perspective that works. Today, it’s a magazine with an attitude and a world view that gives readers access to a world they want to know about. With everything that is going on right now, it is a really exciting time to be there.” I’ll say — the magazine was just named to Adweek’s ‘Hot List’. Meanwhile, Forbes.com is “killing it,” says Randall, getting 25 million uniques last month. All in all, we’d say Randall is off to a very good start.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Producer Freddie Gershon and Eden Collinsworth
2. The Early Show: Hearst’s David Carey with Radical Media’s Bobby Friedman. Second seating: UBS’s Aryeh Bourkoff, presiding over a table of ‘suits’
3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Mort Janklow(Nice to meet you!)
4. Tom Brokaw (Loved the cool specs!) and his lovely daughter, Sarah Brokaw
5. Vernon Jordan with a tweedy looking gent and a gal we didn’t recognize
6. Dr Gerald Imber and Jerry Della Femina of ‘The Imber Gang,’ celebrating the good notices Andy Bergman’s new show, Honeymoon in Vegas, got in today’s New York Post. Congrats!
7. Black Ocean’s Gerry Byrne, who was nice enough to introduce me to the firm’s executive director, Oliver Ripley. Oliver has some big plans for an exciting new venture in digital media. Sorry, but I’m sworn to secrecy at the moment. Stay tuned for more details.
8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia with Andrew Allen and PR maven Maury Rogoff
9. Randall Lane and yours truly
11. A casually clad Jeff Zucker and PMK-HBH’s Cindi Berger who, if we had to guess, were probably talking about some celebrity ‘gets’ for Katie Couric’s yet to be launched talk show. Fall 2012 is right around the corner!
12. Diet guru Nikki Haskell and Alex Hitz
14. Steve Ratner
15. PR guru Steven Rubenstein and Elizabeth Spiers
16. Bonnie Verbitsky (Nick’s wife) and pals
17. SESAC’s CEO Steven Swid
18. Sirius XM Radio CEO Mel Karmazin and attorney Alan Grubman
19. Random House EVP Jon Meacham
20. Geraldine Laybourne (Spotted twice in two weeks!) and Time Inc.’s Paul Caine
21. Quest‘s Chris Meigher and columnist Taki
22. Fab fashionista Fern Mallis with her manager, Hettie Kim, and Bertrand Pellegrin of b. on brand, LLC. Fern tells me her next interview at the 92 Street Y will be with Donna Karan in January. For those who missed her fascinating exchange with Calvin Klein a few weeks ago, Sirius XM is broadcasting it next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday on their Stars channel. “If you’re stuck in traffic on the way out to visit the family on Thanksgiving weekend, tune in!” says Fern. We’ll definitely keep it in mind.
81. Discovery ID’s Henry Schlieff
23. Ellen Delsner (wife of Ron)
24. Lucianne Goldberg, Bonnie Dudley and some well-dressed pals
25. Sabo Media’s Walter Sabo (long time no see!)
26. Tech guru Shelly Palmer
27. Birthday girl Diane Dimond (Happy 29th!) with pals Judy Twersky and Jennifer Bristol. I couldn’t help but notice the stunning coffee table book, With Child, which practically covered their table. The book is filled with breathtaking images of women two weeks from giving birth. It turns out Judy and Jennifer are working with the author, photographer Howard Schatz (whose celeb photos are regularly among the most stunning images in Vanity Fair) in promoting the tome. “It’s his 18th coffee table book,” Judy tells me. “Before he was a world famous photographer, he was a world famous retina surgeon.” Talk about a career makeover. We’re impressed.
28. My good friend Tony Hoyt and Lisa Benenson, who just landed a consulting gig with Tina Brown on Newsweek. (You may have heard some heads rolled over there earlier this week). Contrary to the gloom and doom stories making the rounds, Lisa tells me things are going great guns with both ad pages and circulation on the rise and some key personnel changes, including the return of Newsweek veteran Mark Miller and promotion of hot, young talent Justine Rosenthal. Far be it from us to bet against the formidable Ms. Brown.
29. The Wall Street Journal‘s David Sanford and Lewis Stein on the early bird shift; politico and marketing guru Robert Zimmerman with Hakluyt’s Tom Bristowe for the second seating.
30. Catherine Saxton and Khashy Eyn, CEO and founder of Platinum Properties
Faces in the Crowd: Kira Semler and Vi Huse at the bar…. In the Garden Room: producer Beverly Cahme, who was nice enough to introduce me to Jeremy Wiesen, founder of BizStart.com, a new mentoring site for start-ups. Jeremy knows a thing or two about business having taught entrepreneurship at New York University’s Stern School of Business and been co-CEO of FNN and founder of Tofutti Brands. (We’ve always loved their chocolate.) Jeremy tells me “there is not enough mentoring going on at the moment for small businesses,” so he decided to create a business that helps entrepreneurs succeed through “early stage strategic alliances.” A must have for fledgling startups, according to Jeremy, is a ‘POP’ — a perfect one-pager that can be used to solicit capital and additional support. So, if you’ve got that next great million dollar idea, you might want to check out the site.
We’ll be lunching at home while stuffing the bird next Wednesday. Happy Thanksgiving! See you on the 3oth!
Please send comments and corrections to DCLEHANE at AOL dot COM and LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.