Answering a Rhetorical ‘Lunch’ Question

Peter Sterne wondered this week how FishbowlNY columnist Diane Clehane does it.

On the heels of Diane Clehane’s latest FishbowlNY “Lunch” column Wednesday, there was the following exchange on Twitter between Politico Media’s Peter Sterne and Alex Weprin:



Since the details shared by Weprin are not quite correct, we thought we’d jump in to set the linen tablecloth record straight. Clehane will this fall celebrate her 10th anniversary as a weekly chronicler for Mediabistro and Adweek of all things Michael’s and media. Not her 20th.

“Although it might feel as if I’ve been doing the column forever, I took it over in 2006,” Clehane explains. “Prior to that, it was just a rather incomplete listing of the more recognizable names and faces.”

“And I no longer sit at the bar,” she adds. “Over the years, I’ve graduated to the dining room, which gives me a front-row seat so I can watch the big doings and deal-making that go down between bites. When I first started, I was pretty much left to my own devices. Before lunch, I’d sit at the bar and nab people on their way in and then work the room when things got going. Lucky for me, this crowd is very chatty.”

DianeClehaneCharlesSpencerThese days, Clehane typically arrives at Michael’s before noon in order to get the lowdown from staff on who is expected that particular week. Inevitably, and logically, a number of the boldface who finally show up on a given Wednesday are different from those penciled in. Clehane says it’s too loud to record anything while lunching at Michael’s, so she relies on a trusty pen and notepad.

A key ingredient of “Lunch” is the way each week’s summary of who-sat-where allows readers to paint a picture of the byzantine New York media world. But it is an outsider who once put the cherry on that Wednesday, in a most delightful and British fashion.

“When I lunched with Charles Spencer, Diana’s brother (pictured), he asked me who was the most famous person in the room that day,” Clehane recalls. “I told him he was.”

At the other end of the Michael’s ringer spectrum: Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof, who brought along Heidi Fleiss and some porn stars. “I’ll never forget the looks I got that day,” says our columnist.

Ha ha. It’s been a heck of a ride for readers and Clehane. Starting with the following stupendous Table 1 group relayed in Clehane’s very first dispatch: Dan Aykroyd, his wife Donna Dixon, The Nanny’s Fran Drescher, dancer Twyla Tharp, fashion model Twiggy and two others.