Ed Rollins, Norah O’Donnell and New England’s Next Late Night Star

Lunch At Michaels

LunchAtMichaelsThe mood was downright festive at Michael’s today as the usual suspects celebrated various milestones between bites of their Cobb salads. On Table One, Politico Ed Rollins and his wife, Shari Rollins, toasted Ed’s good health and the close-knit circle of good friends who stuck by the couple’s side during Ed’s heath issues last year. Nearby, best-selling author Linda Fairstein donned a bridal veil (albeit briefly) to celebrate her nuptials with several girlfriends, including Lynn Scherr and Faye Wattleton. Across the room, The Wall Street Journal‘s David Sanford helped hubby Lewis Stein celebrate his 70th, while Michael’s GM Steve Millington serenaded the birthday boy. It was almost too much fun for one lunch.

Diane Clehane and Bianca de la Garza
Diane Clehane and Bianca de la Garza

I was dining today with Bianca de la Garza, who was celebrating a milestone of her own. (Thank you to Steven Stolman, who after lunching with Bianca at Michael’s, decided the two of us should meet and made an introduction.) After 17 years in television news, the last seven spent as co-host of New England’s top-rated newscast, The Eye Opener, at WCVB-TV and anchor of the midday news for the Hearst-owned ABC affiliate in Boston, Bianca signed off in May to start her own production company, Lucky Gal. Now Bianca is about to launch her own lifestyle show that highlights the latest trends in everything from travel to fashion “for New England and beyond.” In her first interview about her latest venture, Bianca gave me exclusive details about the program, which will air in a “late-night weekend spot” on WCVB and will be taped in front of a live studio audience. “It’s not a talk show,” Bianca told me. “It’s more of an entertainment-variety show.” A press conference at The Four Seasons in Boston is scheduled later this fall to reveal more details.

Bianca, who is as personable as she is glamorous, was bubbling with excitement over the next chapter in her career. As host and executive producer, the Massachusetts native is thrilled to be wearing many hats while working with New-York-based producing partners that are currently producing programming for Bravo. (“I won’t miss getting up at 2:45 a.m. every day!”) The show (the title is still top secret) will premiere in January. “It’s been really empowering to do what I want and do it for myself as the owner and creator of the content,” she told me between bites of Dover sole. “My objective has been to create a world-class New-England-centric show with content parallel to a national program.” In order to do that, Bianca is tapping into her extensive experience in news, where she covered events ranging from investigative reporting that led to the closure of an illegal sweatshop in Los Angeles to her Emmy-nominated coverage of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. For that piece, she scored an exclusive sit-down with Mohamed Al-Fayed, the father of Dodi Fayed, who was killed in the car crash that claimed the life of Princess Diana.

Having covered some of the most seminal news events in the past two decades, including 9/11 (“It was my second day on the job at Fox 25”), the Newtown shootings and the Boston Marathon bombing, Bianca explained that as a news anchor “you have to be the voice of calm, the voice of reason.” In the next chapter of her television career, “Now it’s time to have fun.” She told me she looks forward to revealing more of her personality to her New England viewers who have come to know her. “They are going to see a different side of me,” she said. “In creating my own content, I can be a bit quirky. The show is going to have sass and spunk. We’re not taking ourselves too seriously.” It’s also going to occasionally take viewers out of their hometown in Bianca’s interviews with news makers like Vogue editor Anna Dello Russo in Italy.