Lunch at Michael’s: Fabian Basabe, Tabloid Wars Talk

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgThe heat wave finally broke (somewhat) last night, not that the regulars alighting from frosty towncars idling outside would have noticed. Inside, there were pockets of unusually youthful lunchers among the tables of regulars, including a what-is-he-doing-here? sighting of “ex-playboy” Fabian Basabe. On with the roll call:

Table 1: Paul Wilmot was the only person we actually recognized at a crowded bay window table today. We were told he with Joe Spellman (the sommelier, we assume?) and a handful of others, none of which looked a day older than 25.

2. Peter Brown of Brown Lloyd James, lunching quietly with partner Michael Holtzman.

3. Actress Victoria Tennant was stationed here with a trio of others, including, at one point, fellow actress Phoebe Cates.

4. Ron Perelman, in rolled-up shirtsleeves, as usual, a look that’s gaining more and more currency with us the deeper into summer we get. He too, was anchoring a four-person table today, which included Revlon director (and Perelman partner) Howard Gettis.

5. The prize for most intriguing table of the day goes to Susan Lyne and Jeffrey Katzenberg. “Iger? Iger is nothing. Lemme tell you about the time Eisner…”

6. The runner-up was Table 6, chaired by PR man of the oldest school Bobby Zarem (who we’re convinced Harvey Weinstein will resemble in his later years). Fabian Basabe was here, flanked on one side (we’re not sure which) by his wife, La Perla heiress Martina Borgomanero, as were a bunch of other bright young things. We’re fairly certain Basabe isn’t one of the regulars, despite his poorly received start on a writing career. When someone who knows his way around the place expressed a lack of knowledge about the ex-playboy (read this month’s Glamour to be in on the joke), we explained that he was something of a male socialite. “What the hell is a male socialite?” our friend replied, genuinely puzzled. If only David Patrick Columbia had been there today to explain.


7. The New York Daily News‘ table today, consisting of gossip Joanna Molloy, features managing editor Orla Healy, and attorney Ed Hayes, who’s somehow managed to represent both Page Six’s Richard Johnson and Jared Paul Stern, at least for a minute, during the latest flare-up in the the feud between the two papers. We asked Joanna what to watch for in Tabloid Wars, which begins airing on Monday. “Kenny Burke,” she replied. “John Leonard really got it right.” What about Hudson Morgan? we asked. “Hud too,” she said. “He comes across as really self-aware.” After reading choice quotes published by the Observer, we’d elevate him to the existential.

8. The New York Observer’s Peter Kaplan, with Howard Rubenstein.

9. Cartier’s Marianne Goldbranssen (apologies for the inevitable misspelling).

11. VH1’s John Sykes occasionally poked his head out from the behind the wall here, but his companion was invisible to us. We heard the mystery date practically ran laps greeting everyone, however.

12. Fellow Michael’s Kremlinologist Jack Myers, lunching with a serious-looking young woman.

14. Mort Zuckerman was also parked along Mogul Row today, and while we didn’t see who his date was, the name passed to us (almost as if through a game of “Telephone”) was Joe Queenan. But that doesn’t make much sense, does it? [Update:Joe KERNEN!” a tipster emails. That makes a lot more sense.]

15. CNBC’s best-and-brightest were stationed here: new-ish business news chief Jonathan Wald, and the channel’s face, Maria Bartiromo.

16. The Magrino Sisters, Susan and Allyn.

17. Outside of our field of view, new Time M.E. Rick Stengal was said to be here along with one of his editors.

18. The Scion Table, home to Herb Allen Jr. and Ron Starr, son of Pepperdine University dean Kenneth Starr. (No, that’s not why you know him.) [Update: The table’s second seating featured the Pilot Group’s Marshall Cohen lunching with MTV Networks’ EVP of Creative Services, Leslie Leventman.

19. Joe Versace, a relative fixture in New York Social Diary, but we don’t know why, exactly.

20. Shop, Etc. publisher Cindi Lewis, out there pounding the proverbial pavement for ad pages, no doubt.

21. We stopped by to pay our respects to Businessweek’s Jon Fine and his former (and our quasi-current) boss Scott Donaton, who’s settled in and still happy as the associate publisher of Advertising Age (where we’re an editor-at-large).

And now into the back of the room, where we only know who was here through hearsay:

22. Peter Price.

23. Jon Josephson.

24. Former Warner Bros. and ABC executive Ed Bleier.

25. Uber-NYC politico Jay Kriegel.

26. Entertainment attorney Jordan Ringel.

27. Hal Rubenstein, on official in Style business, one presumes, hanging out with a couple of guys from Van Cleef & Arpels.

28. Lori Rhodes.

29. Stephen Swid.

30. Esquire’s David Granger was only here for a nano-second before manning the second shift at Table 2. As befitting a gentleman brought up in the ways of the late Art Cooper, he was actually having a drink at lunch. Emboldened by his example, we’ll have one next time.

Also spotted: New York Post‘s Media Ink columnist Keith Kelly, who likely tipped Page Six for today’s “Sightings.”

Please send any and all correct spellings, additions, and what-have-you to Greg AT mediabistro Dot Com AND FishbowlNY AT mediabistro Dot Com.

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