Slow moving holiday tourists and presidential motorcades be damned. Nothing could keep the faithful away from Michael’s today. With the place decked out in its holiday finery, the mood was like a swanky office party on steroids. While the usual suspects and a cool visitor from California (producer/composer David Foster) huddled over their tables deep in conversation, there was a little lunch for 14 in the middle of the dining room. I snagged one of the guests, Melissa Gorga, my favorite ‘housewife’ on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, for a chat about the knock-down, drag-out cat fights on last month’s reunion show and to get the real story about her on- and off-camera relationship with her fellow cast mate and sister-in-law, the charming Teresa Guidice.
Melissa, who is an absolute knockout in person, told me that the RHONJ cast (minus Jacqueline Laurita) shot the reunion special the day after wrapping the yet-to-be-aired Season 4, and the women were all seething about battles and betrayals the viewers haven’t even seen. “We had just had a huge blow up the night before, and that was what was on everyone’s mind. It was so hard not to say anything. That’s why Jacqueline wasn’t there,” Melissa tells me. “It was very confusing for us, and we were constantly trying not to say things about things that hadn’t aired yet. Bravo is so sorry they shot them back to back. I don’t think they are ever going to do that again.” Teresa “tried to set me up” and is back to her old tricks, Melissa told me, without giving anything away. After all the kissing and making up seen at the end of last season, Melissa’s husband Joe Gorga is “disgusted” with his table tipping sibling once again. Big surprise.
Still, Melissa says she’s willing to forgive Teresa if her husband asked her to and make peace for the sake of their families. “The children don’t know about any of this stuff and they don’t care. They just want to be together. They really love each other. That’s what I don’t get. Why does she think I’d want to keep my husband away from his family? It makes no sense,” said Melissa. When I offer that it appears that Teresa is jealous of her and her happy marriage, Melissa’s eyes widen. “But I can’t say that! I can never say that!” she says. “I don’t know why it bothers her that I’m doing what I’m doing as a result of the show. It doesn’t take anything away from what she’s done. I think it bothers her that I even exist!” We are Team Melissa all the way.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Producer/composer David Foster with his new wife, model Yolanda Hadid. The couple tied the knot in Beverly Hills on the supposedly lucky date 11-11-11 in front of an A-list guest list which included Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand and Michael Buble. The newlyweds, who are headed back to California tonight, were lunching with Richard LeFrak and Harrison LeFrak. I was thrilled to meet David, the man behind so many of my favorite singers including 11 year-old phenom Jackie Evancho from America’s Got Talent. He was fascinated when I told him how my six-year-old daughter and I were utterly transfixed after seeing the rising star’s pitch perfect debut at Lincoln Center. “She can carry the entire show, can’t she?” he said. Indeed she can and did. Thanks to David and Jackie, my first grader has told me she wants to be an opera singer “just like Jackie.” I can think of worse role models, I told David. Yolanda says Hasbro is coming out with a Jackie doll just in time for Christmas. Are you listening, Santa?
2. Cosmo editrix Kate White, looking as glam as ever
3. Former Town & Country editor Pamela Fiori with More‘s Ila Stanger
4. Leonard Lauder with a bookish, tweedy looking fellow no one seemed to know. The beauty industry icon, sporting an oversize enamel pink ribbon on his lapel in honor of his late wife, Evelyn, received plenty of warm greetings from his industry pals in the room. Our sincere condolences on her recent passing.
5. Steve Mosko
6 & 12. Hollywoodlife.com’s editor in chief, Bonnie Fuller and PMC board member Gerry Byrne, presiding over a super sized version of their monthly lunch. In attendance: RHONJ Melissa Gorga; PMC president Aly Racer; new Hollywoodlife.com publisher Carlos Lamadrid; Libby Pigg, VP of Edelman Digital; Susan Rutenberg, Furla’s director of marketing; Tommaso Bruso, Furla’s CEO; Larry Aidem, president/CEO of IconicTV; Mary Gleason, president of Adrienne Vittadini/Judith Leiber; David Porzio, MDC Partners; MSL Group’s Belinda Martin; Khalia Alexander from Crest; and Trading Spaces star Paige Davis (who has gone brunette)
7. New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and three political types
8. PMK-BNC’s Cindi Berger
11. Fab fashionista Mickey Ateyeh and architect Stephen Joseph
14. Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for this one: Cathie Black and ABC News legal analyst and mediaite.com founder Dan Abrams. Whatever could they have been talking about? Perhaps the legal eagle was weighing in on this morning’s New York Post reporting that a Manhattan judge has ruled that the Bloomberg administration must turn over emails relating to Black’s hiring as New York City Schools Chancellor. Uh oh.
15. Euan Rellie (Hubby of Lucy Sykes, in case you didn’t know)
16. United Stations Radio’s Nick Verbitsky
17. Who’s that guy behind those cool shades? Luke Janklow
18. Hotelier Gerry Inzerillo
20. The brains behind Piers Morgan’s CNN show, Jonathan Wald
21. Quest‘s Chris Meigher
22. Joie David
23. PR maven Susan Blond
24. WWD‘s Marc Berger
25. Tom Goodman
26. Uber agent Rob Weisbach
27. Dream Water’s Adam Platzner
29. The Wall Street Journal‘s David Sanford and Lewis Stein. Before the guys went off to their table, I checked in with them for our weekly reality television confab. David and I agreed that last night’s reunion for Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker was dishy, dysfunctional TV at its best. “I used to be a serious person,” joked David. “I don’t know what happened.” It’s all your fault, Andy Cohen.
Faces in the crowd: My good pal, designer David Biscaye who tells me he’s headed to Italy next month to ring in the new year in splendid style. We promise we’ll travel light. Can we come along?
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