— DIANE CLEHANE
When I arrived at Michael’s today and found myself engulfed in a sea of suits, I chalked up the relatively quiet dining room to the usual January doldrums. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the reason things seemed a bit quieter than usual was that there were more than a few folks present who preferred to fly a bit under the radar considering what they might be talking about. (Just a thought: This isn’t the place if you’re looking to have a low-profile lunch). An acquisitive media mogul dining with one of the city’s most respected media columnists? A scandal plagued Manhattanite dishing with the Times’ financial columnist? The last thing on the minds of these guys was table hopping. I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned to see what they cooked up over lunch.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Artist David Hockney holding court with a table full of ‘suits’
2. Allyn Magrino and pals
3. Abernathy & MacGregor’s Jim Abernathy and some pretty preppy looking folks.
4. Uber literary agent Esther Newberg and a bookish bloke we didn’t recognize
5. Literary and talent agent Wayne Kabak and my pal, intrepid investigative reporter Diane Dimond
6. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, who rushed in to join two elegant blondes. Just yesterday on his show, Lawrence asked Arizona Republican congressman Trent Franks to consider that the recent Tucson shootings would not have occurred in 2003, because the gun control laws at that time “would not have allowed” the alleged shooter “to get his hands on a magazine that held 30 bullets… and more citizens of Arizona would be alive today in your state.”
When Franks refused to address the question, things got pretty heated. Retorted O’Donnell, “So, you’re not going to answer that question about the magazine? Will you answer the question about the magazine?” Franks didn’t, instead focusing the blame on the shooter. “I blame the individual for the first 10 bullets,” O’Donnell yelled. “I blame the law for the next 21 bullets that he fired.” Pretty compelling stuff…
7. Manolo Blahnik’s George Malkemus with an equally well-heeled friend.
8. Quest’s editor in chief David Patrick Columbia with an elegant looking gentleman.
9. Marketing maven Shelley Zalis
11. Today show security expert Bill Stanton. Before he sat down to spend some quality time with his pretty blonde date, he went over to offer Today producer Marc Victor a big ‘hello.’
12. Chanel’s Barbara Cirkva and some fierce fashionistas.
14. Today show producer Marc Victor and Dr. Keith Ablow, who made an appearance on this morning’s program.
15. What’s the scoop? Jimmy Finkelstein, whose company News Communications owns The Hollywood Reporter and The Hill, with The New York Post’s media guru Keith Kelly.
16. Joseph Garland
17. NBC Dateline’s David Corvo.
18. New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Government Affairs Kevin Sheekey
19. Social swan Debbie Bancroft
20. Literary agent Fredrica Friedman (Loved that coat!)
21. Steve Blacker and Jack Thomas
22. Tech guru Shelly Palmer
24. Marvel Enterprise’s Sarabeth Shrager
26. Paxton Quigley (Love that name!)
27. Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at this table: President Obama’s former car czar Steven Rattner with The New York Times’ most ubiquitous scribe, Andrew Ross Sorkin. Rattner has been under fire since the news broke that he and his former firm, The Quadrangle Group, were under investigation for influencing peddling schemes with New York State pensions. Earlier this month, Rattner agreed to pony up $10 million in fines to settle the case that then-attorney general Andrew Cuomo brought against him and accepted a five-year ban from involvement in any public pension fund. Last year, he settled with the SEC for $6.2 million and agreed to a two-year ban from associating with investment advisers. Makes you wonder what the trouble-plagued financier and the savvy financial reporter have been talking about, doesn’t it?
28. Financial Times’ Gillian Tett
Please send comments and corrections to DianeClehane AT mediabistro Dot com and lunch at mediabistro DOT com.