Bonnie Fuller, Jill Zarin and Why Jeff Greenfield Skipped This Year’s State of the Union Address

Lunch At Michaels

LunchAtMichaelsYou’d never know hell had officially frozen over if you’d been at Michael’s today. The forsythias were in bloom, a few intrepid media mavens were barelegged (I kid you not) and the power-lunch scene was firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately, my date was detained in the studio shooting a popular television show, but I soldiered on into Manhattan, bundled up in my long-forgotten fur coat (No judgment, thank you) that makes me look like Yogi Bear’s wife to make my appointed Wednesday rounds. And it’s a good thing I did. At Table One,’s Bonnie Fuller had assembled a particularly interesting roster of media types (including CNN’s Christine Romans, AOL’s Brian Balthazar , “Mayor” Joe Armstrong and our own Chris Ariens among them) as well as the requisite reality-show refugee who, in this case, was Jill Zarin. A little birdie told me the former Real Housewives of New York City cast member is getting the Where Are They Now? treatment from none other than Oprah Winfrey for an upcoming episode. The fickle finger of fate has quite the sense of humor.

Lunch at Michaels
Meta moment: Does a power lunch at 55th and Fifth count if no one’s there to see it? I think we know the answer to that one.

Before the overflow crowd sat down to discuss Justin Bieber‘s latest contretemps and why Madonna looked like the love child of the Quaker Oats man and Mae West at the Grammys, I spent some time mingling with the crowd. Bonnie introduced me to her 23-year-old daughter Sofia Fuller who was “helping out” at today’s luncheon since Bonnie is currently without a publicist (but not for long, I suspect). Clever Sofia told me that she is “definitely” interested in a career in media and has her heart set on landing something in e-commerce.

While chatting with Chris and Christine, the conversation turned to President Barack Obama‘s State of the Union address. We all agreed the story of Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg, an army ranger who was nearly killed during a roadside bombing in Afghanistan, was the evening’s emotional high point. As the president recounted Cory’s incredible tale of survival and personal strength, the wounded warrior looked on from the balcony, where he was seated next to the clearly moved First Lady Michelle Obama.

scene at Michael's
The scene at Michael’s today

The president told the story of meeting the energetic, able-bodied solider, who he described as “strong” and “sharp as a tack” during the summer of 2009 at a D-Day anniversary celebration as if he were describing an encounter with an old friend. “We took some pictures and I told him to stay in touch.”

Afterwards, Cory, who enlisted on his 18th birthday in 2003, sustained his life-threatening injuries in October 2009 on his tenth tour of duty in Afghanistan. He was in a coma for three months, remains partially paralyzed and brain damaged and has been fighting his way back ever since. “Like the Army he loves and like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up and he does not quit,” said the president as the entire chamber leapt to its feet for a standing ovation.

spring at Michael's
For the A-list, it’s always springtime at Michael’s

What the president didn’t say is how these two men reconnected. Christine told us during a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the president was making the rounds visiting patients when he spied a photograph of himself and a soldier and realized the man lying in the bed next to it was Cory. “It was really an incredible moment where, for the first time, the president came face to face with someone he knew that he’d sent off to war and was nearly killed,” said Christine. According to other published reports, Cory is the only wounded service member who has met the president three times.