It’s the rare Wednesday when I don’t leave Michael’s with a fistful of business cards from some striver or media maven intent on making an impression. That’s why it’s so newsworthy when the exact opposite occurs. Today was the rare occasion when a famous — make that infamous — name did everything he could not to be noticed. Andrew Madoff arrived with a woman named Catherine Hooper (Andrew’s fiancee) and a little girl in tow, having made their reservation online under Catherine’s name just minutes before. The threesome took a seat in the lounge to wait for their table a few minutes before noon with a handful of people who were oblivious to his presence. Andrew did his best to avoid eye contact with the people around him and said nothing while waiting for his table.
I spotted him through the window when I got to the front door and decided I would ask him what he thought of Stephanie Madoff Mack‘s media tour for her book, which happened to coincide with the publication of the book Laurie Sandell wrote with his cooperation and the participation of his mother, Ruth Madoff. Unfortunately, as soon as he realized I knew who he was, he was off like a shot and I’d missed my moment. If you don’t want to be noticed, why come to the media mecca on a Wednesday? Just asking.
Table 1 was the center of the action today where Linda Fairstein was hosting a lunch for good pal Kate White to celebrate the publication of Kate’s latest novel, So Pretty It Hurts, a Bailey Weggins mystery. I was thrilled to be among the table of fun, fearless power gals. The lively group, which included actress Stephanie March, Dr. Holly Phillips, Women’s Health editor Michele Promaulayko, photographer Peggy Vance (Mrs. Cyrus Vance to you), Hilary Gumbel (wife of Bryant Gumbel) and Giorgio Armani Beauty’s Kelly Thompson, had plenty to talk about.
Before everyone arrived, I caught up with Kate to ask her about her latest Bailey book (it’s her sixth in the series and eighth novel in all in addition to several business books she’s written). So Pretty It Hurts finds crime writer Bailey at the center of the mystery surrounding the death of supermodel Devon Barr. The story kicks off when the beauty is killed during a weekend in the country at a music mogul’s mansion and the house guests become the suspects. The whodunnit is in the style of those Agatha Christie page turners where everyone is stuck in the house (this time because of a snowstorm) and left to ponder if there is a killer among them. We’re starting it tonight.
Kate, whose day job as editor of Cosmo keeps her more than busy, told me it took about a year to write this book, which she worked on mostly on the weekends at her country house in Pennsylvania. Having once modeled herself, Kate has always “been intrigued” by the world of modeling and thought the high-flying lifestyle that goes with the territory would make an interesting backdrop to her story. Her advice to aspiring writers with a pesky day job standing between them and bestselling fame and fortune: “Write fifteen minutes a day. Write every day, even on vacation. That way, you never fall off the horse.”
Before lunch was served, Linda said a few words about Kate calling her “the perennial Cosmo girl” and told us they’ve been friends forever (“We went to Gymboree together!” quipped Kate). It turns out years ago when Kate was penning her first business book, she wanted to interview Linda but was “too nervous” about approaching her, so she simply included some words of wisdom from the former Manhattan prosecutor turned crime novelist. Once Linda left the D.A.’s office to write her books, Kate, who by then was editor of Cosmo, called with an offer for Linda to pen two columns about true crime for the magazine. Now the BFF’s call each other to commiserate whenever they get stuck on a plot point.
Kate, who is one of those rare successful people who enjoys listening to other people’s stories, invited everyone around the table to introduce themselves, since some of us had never met. I picked up plenty of tasty tidbits about the group I hadn’t known before.
Stephanie said her character on Law & Order SVU was modeled after Linda. We chatted a bit about her new gig as a contributing editor to the travel site fathom.com and her recent arrival to Twitter. “I would tweet about something I like or a place I’ve been to that I loved,” she told me, “but I won’t tweet something about where I am and what I’m doing when I’m doing it. I’d rather live my life than document it.”
Michele, who was Kate’s executive editor at Cosmo for eight years before landing the top spot at Women’s Health, told the group that she and Kate grew so close while they worked together they got to the point where they could finish each other sentences. Hilary, who is an ambassador for UNICEF and is just back from a trip to Haiti for the organization, got to know Kate when Bryant brought home one of Kate’s books for his mystery-loving wife.
Besides the woman of the hour, the most popular person at the table was Kelly who, as a surprise for each guest, came bearing bags of specially selected Giorgio Armani cosmetics. She had the company’s celebrated makeup artist look up pictures of each woman online and choose the best colors our ‘new faces.’ Now, that’s what I call the perfect dessert.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Kate White, Linda Fairstein, Stephanie March, Hilary Gumbel, Peggy Vance, Dr. Holly Phillips, Peggy Vance, Michele Promaulayko, Kelly Thompson and yours truly
2. Digital Living’s Shelly Palmer and a long-haired gal we didn’t get to meet
3. UBS’s Aryeh Bourkoff with another well-heeled fellow who, we hear, has something to do with American Idol. (No, it wasn’t Simon Cowell).
4. Literary agent Esther Newberg with Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Is the dynamic duo planning to pen a tome together? Stay tuned.
5. Agent Lynn Nesbit and Shirley Lord
6. The Municipal Arts Society’s president Vin Cipolla and pals
7. Du Jour Media founder Jason Binn who stopped by our table to say hello and ask, “Is this a ‘girls only’ lunch?” You can pull up a chair anytime!
8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia with his partner Jeff Hirsch (who takes the site’s gorgeous photos) and Carol Joynt
12. A power couple enjoying a little togetherness: Judy Price and Peter Price who we usually spot lunching at separate tables on Wednesday
14. Attorney Richard Descherer (who represents Mayor Michael Bloomberg)
15. New York Times flack Bob Christie
16. BizBash’s David Adler with his dad, Warren Adler
17. Kaufman Franco’s Michael Toccin with, we hear, a marketing guru from Cosmo.
23. The Wall Street Journal‘s David Sanford and Lewis Stein
24. Jerry Levin
27. Bling broker Henri Barguirdjian, president & CEO of Graff
Faces in the crowd: Designer David Biscaye (Long time, no see!) fresh off a buying trip to Italy and enjoying a quiet lunch at the bar. Ciao!
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