Lunch At Michael’s: Dominick Dunne, Barbara Walters & Some Scary Celeb Gossip



It seems only fitting that today’s crowd was a bewitching blend of media mavens old and new, chatty regulars and bold-faced names. There were plenty of delicious treats all around for those who like to play the game of ‘What are they talking about?’ over their cobb salads. While diners trolled like trick or treaters from table to table looking for the tastiest morsels of dish they could find, we scored plenty of scoops from our usual perch at the bar. The staff was still buzzing about Lance Armstrong‘s visit earlier this week. Man, that guy gets around. Have you heard Lance was spotted canoodling with Ashley Olsen at the Gramercy Park Hotel this week? If they show up at 55th & Fifth anytime soon, expect a full report.

My lunch date, best selling author Pamela Keogh, joined me at the bar. She knows everyone! The prolific Ms. Keogh (Audrey Style, Jackie Style and Elvis Presley The Man. The Life. The Legend.) has just finished her fourth book but discretion — and a healthy sense of superstition — prevented her from disclosing anything more than the scarcest of details. All I can report is that it’s coming out in May from Gotham Press. Pamela, looking tres chic in a beautiful Ines de la Fressange blazer and jeans (loved the Colbert Wriststrong bracelet!), was more interested in chatting with a host of good pals including Peter Duchin, writer and social swan Amy Fine Collins and our mutual friend Dominick Dunne than blowing her own horn. Imagine that!

No matter who shows up on Wednesdays, everyone always wants to talk to Dominick, so Pamela and I were thrilled when he was nice enough to stop by the bar and regale us with tales from the Paris inquest into the death of Princess Diana. Although Dominick joked, “I just went for the trip” when talking of his overseas assignment for Vanity Fair (he’s staying at the Ritz), he says he finds the whole thing “fascinating.” Evidently, so does his editor. He’s headed back to Paris since Graydon Carter just called him this morning wanting more from this surprisingly below the radar news event. When I asked Dominick why the coverage of the inquest in the New York media has been so spotty despite the endless interest in the late Princess, he opined, “I guess people are thinking, ‘Oh, that’s still going on?'” But, as usual, Dominick has followed the case with his all-encompassing eye and ear for detail and will deliver his own patented must-read report in the February issue of Vanity Fair. And Dominick, if you’re looking for two assistants for your next Paris trip (we’re crack typists!) Pamela and I are up for the adventure…

Here’s the rundown on the rest of the crowd:

1. Mike Medavoy and a table full of exec types.

2. Peter Brown, Warren Hoge and, we’re told, Alison Richard, vice-chancellor of Cambridge University. Cheerio old chaps!

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Paula Zahn. I was happy to see Paula, looking chic as ever, out and about. Since leaving CNN, Paula is busier than ever keeping up with her full plate of philanthropic work. Just back from a visit with the Congressional Families Action Committee, a tireless group that raises money for cancer awareness in Washington, she’s off to Maryland tomorrow to deliver one of the keynote addresses at a breast cancer symposium hosted by the renown Dr. Larry Norton. We’re anxiously awaiting news on where the tireless Ms. Zahn will next appear on the small screen. Stay tuned…

4. Chuck Pfeifer, Dominick Dunne & Taki.

5. Alex Hiltz.

6. Teen Vogue‘s Amy Astley, a squadron of staffers and Jane Lauder.

7. Christine Taylor.

8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia and Barbara Lieberman.

9. Nikki Haskell.

10. The Early Show‘s Steve Cohen.

11. The Today Show‘s Amy Rosenblum with Hoda Kotb, one of the cohosts of the show’s new-ish fourth hour. For those of you who missed it this morning, the Today team’s annual Halloween costume unveiling was one for the books. Their black and white homage to the sixties classic sitcom, The Munsters was simply inspired. Meredith Vieira made a fetching ‘Lily,’ Al Roker bit into his ‘Grandpa’ role with gusto, Natalie Morales gets props for gamely dressing up as a teenage ‘Eddie,’ Hoda made a lovely ‘Marilyn’ and Matt Lauer was virtually unrecognizable as the towering ‘Herman.’ It was their best effort since Matt & Al trick or treated as J.Lo and Diddy all those years ago…

12. Vanity Fair‘s Lou Cona who arrived bearing goodie bags for his guests.

14. The dashing Peter Duchin.

15. Diane Soklov.

16. Harvey Weinstein & Co.

17. Myrna Blyth and Jim Brosseau. Nice to meet you!

18. Mayor Bloomberg‘s gal pal Diana Taylor with Barbara Walters who looked regal in red.

20. Cosmo gal Kate White.

21. The lush fall greenery blocked our view…

22. Pat Carpenter.

23. Don Welsh.

25. Tom Goodman.

26. Laurie Tisch.

27. Jim Mitchell who came bearing Halloween treats for the staff. “He’s always doing things like that,” said one waiter. How sweet.

28. Margery Rubin.

29. Susan Silver & Gloria Allred

More faces in the crowd: Atoosa Rubenstein who was overheard espousing the joys of ironing her hair and seemed to be channeling Elvira with her dominatrix shoes, Chanel ankle band and all black ensemble, Jamie Niven and Nick E. Rubinstein with wife Wendy and perhaps the youngest ever Michael’s power luncher, his adorable baby daughter, Ava.

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