It’s Spin City for Moguls & Machers at Michael’s



The flacks were certainly out in full force today at Michael’s. It seemed anyone who was (or represents) anyone was out and about with something to spin. Well, at least it’s a sign that life goes on in Manhattan no matter how bleak New York magazine says our financial future is. Although a pesky stomach bug kept me away last week, we hear things were really hopping with Michael Douglas holding court on Table One. (He’s in town filming the sequel to Wall Street, in case you haven’t heard.) Seems the Oscar-winning actor enjoyed several bottles of wine with a table full of ‘masters of the universe’ — no doubt asking these insiders how his character, Gordon Gekko, would handle the new world order in the financial district.

I was lunching today with a real media powerhouse, Debbie Phillips, who has turned her career as a work-life coach into a bonafide cottage industry. In 2003, Debbie founded “Women on Fire,” an organization whose mission she describes as “helping women achieve their dreams and desires.” (She hates the outdated term ‘networking’.) Having been a journalist, politico, and television producer for decades, Debbie brings plenty to the table. Among her many accomplishments: She was the first female press secretary in Ohio government, having worked for Governor Dick Celeste in the ’80s. When Debbie “stepped out of the swirl,” she somehow found herself coaching clients on life and career strategies before the now burgeoning industry even had a name. Although most of her clients by the mid-’90s were men, she saw her business take off in 2000 after deciding to focus on the needs of women. These days, the company’s multi-media platform encompasses books, CDs and DVDs as well as biannual seminars, which she calls “tea parties,”in New York. She also holds events in Ohio, Michigan, and Boston. These members-only gatherings, says Debbie, are designed to get women of different backgrounds talking about their accomplishments and goals in a “judgment-free zone” and serve as a much needed dose of empowerment to get things going. Sounds like a great idea to us.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. My pal Stu Zakim, who recently left his perch as Showtime’s spinmeister, presiding over a “boy’s lunch” with ABC News’ Jeffrey Schneider, Tony Fox of Comedy Central, Patrick Reilly of Sirius Radio, publicist Peter Himler, Jeff Bercovici who is writing for AOL verticals these days, flack Matthew Hiltzik, and Matt Frankel, formerly of AOL. Stu told me the guys had gathered to “celebrate” Arnie Huberman who passed away earlier this summer.

2. Steve Rubenstein

3. Publicity maven Maury Rogoff, writer Jill Brooke , and Fox 5’s Rosanna Scotto.

4. Richard Rubenstein

5. Peter Brown and Shirley Lord

6. ‘The Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina , whose wife Judy Licht stopped by to chat on the way to her table, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer. I caught the good doctor on the way out to congratulate him on all the positive press his just-launched skincare line has received. His favorite product of the bunch is the anti-aging serum. “You’ll see results in a few days,” he promised. Talk about hope in a jar!

7. Debbie Phillips and yours truly. Debbie was thrilled she got to chat with Jeff Greenfield about how his book spurred her to enter politics. “You must have bought the only copy sold,” joked the always self-deprecating Jeff as he was making the rounds.

8. Public relations maven Christine Taylor (love the bob!), Hill & Knowlton’s Jonathan Capehart, and a mystery pal. Catherine Oliver, who oversees all things broadcasting for the Mayor’s Office, dropped by to say ‘hello.’

9. My friend Maria Cuomo-Cole with Barbara Diamondstein Spielvogel. Maria and I chatted up Fashion Group International’s upcoming Night of Stars where her hubby Kenneth Cole is receiving the coveted Humanitarian Award. Congrats!

11. Geraldine Laybourne. We’ve known Gerry since she launched Oxygen way back when and have to say she’s looking better than ever!

12. Vanity Fair scribe Amy Fine Collins, in all-black and wearing a fabulously chic jacket in celebration of the season. (“It’s leather weather!”) She was joined by Susan Fales Hill who told us she’d “fallen off the (shopping) wagon” when she spotted the gorgeous magenta blouse she was wearing today. “I couldn’t help myself.” The fashionistas were joined by another gal we didn’t recognize.

14. “Is it breakfast or lunch?” Mike Ovitz asked when he showed up a few minutes before noon. “This guy I’m meeting needs to eat early.” Okay then…

15. Mark Rosenthal

16. Jonathan Wald (Long time, no see!)

17. Literary lioness Freddie Friedman

18. Legendary lensman Harry Benson (loved the emerald pocket square!) and another distinguished looking gent.

20. My good friend, writer/producer extraordinaire Joan Gelman with Lynn Goldberg

21. Quest‘s Chris Meigher

22. Van Cleef & Arpels’ Ralph Destino

23. Mort Hamburg, husband of Joan

24. Social scribe Taki

25. Another good friend, Lisa Linden, the go-to public relations gal for plenty of Manhattan’s biggest movers and shakers. Today she introduced me to Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League.

28. Time Inc’s Paul Caine

29. Marie Claire‘s Susan Plagemann

30. Designer Liz Lange, looking fabulous in an up-to-there mini!

Faces in the crowd: Pilot Group’s Marshall Cohen presided over a tasting at the bar with Michael’s GM Steve Millington pouring for the company’s first product, Casa Dragones Sipping Tequila. Co-founder and CEO Bertha Gonzalez Nieves invited me to imbibe but I abstained — I’m working! The gang at the bar certainly seemed to enjoy it. I’ll say one thing, the hand-engraved bottle is certainly one of the swankiest ones I’ve seen in a long time, and the chic jewel box case just oozes luxury. Bottoms up!

Please send comments and corrections to DianeClehane AT mediabistro Dot com and lunch at mediabistro DOT com.