Lunch at Michael’s: John Huey Is Ready For His Closeup; Pauley & Gumbel Together Again and More

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgIt turns out they miss Laurel at Michael’s, and by “they” I mean just about everybody. The staff seemed cheerier than usual, and while we tried to unobtrusively take notes in the waiting nook, she started a traffic jam of regulars — Steven Rubenstein, Keith Kelly, Joe Armstrong, Chris Meigher, Eric Pooley and so on — until Time Inc. editor-in-chief John Huey, who was trying to give an interview to the Financial Times, asked to be moved away from the entrance. Sorry about that. Here’s where everyone ended up sitting:

Table 1: A full gaggle of ladies-who-lunch, led by Charlene Nederlander, the matriarch of Broadway’s Nederlander clan and a producer in her own right.

2: Regular Peter Brown lunching with a striking brunette.

3. The Mayor of these parts, Joe Armstrong, with a member of his “Texas Mafia,” Phyllis George. She’s “the most beautiful Miss America ever,” Joe effused, and she’s also a former CBS Morning News anchor, the former First Lady of Kentucky, and a former Mrs. Robert Evans. (We weren’t sure where to start.) She’s also due to be honored at the Alzheimer Association’s annual Rita Hayworth Gala on November 14 at the Waldorf-Astoria. And she hugged us when we promised to print that.

4. Ron Perelman, with his boys Howard Gittis and Gerry Ford. Perelman was in fine glad-handing form, giving a bear hug to Norman Lear before darting into the back to say hello to those Gastineau girls.

5. A small group of gentlemen were hobnobbing with the junior senator from North Dakota, Democrat Byron Dorgan.

6. Another table full of ladies-who-were-lunching, including TV producer Joan Gelman,, radio broadcaster Joan Hamburg, Broadway producer Susan Gallin (Spamlot. Angels in America) and more.

7. Huey bailed out of here in a hurry, only to be replaced by Mrs. Sid Bass and Shirley Lord.

8. David Patrick Columbia was at his usual spot with the doyenne of Manhattan real estate, Alice Mason.

9. The duo of Arnold Scassi and Parker Ladd, plus today’s lunch date.

11. Terry Allen Kramer was one of the two ladies lunching here.

12. We’re pretty sure Gerry Byrne was here with his lunch partner, Parade creative director Ira Yoffe.

14. We spotted her hair first: the legendary Diana Ross, lunching with a friend.

15. It took us a while to figure out Norman Lear was sitting here with a pair of much younger colleagues. The first clue was Perelman’s bear hug, the second was when Rick Stengel marched over to say his hellos and then introduced Lear to “my boss,” Huey. We were too young for All In the Family.

16. A foursome comprised of Time managing editor Rick Stengel, ‘Today’ Show executive producer Jim Bell, and their respective publicists, Ali Zelenko and Steven Rubenstein.

17. The New York Post’s Keith Kelly with Fortune managing editor Eric Pooley, who’s having to throw money at his senior staffers in order to head off the dreaded “Portfolio Effect.”

18. Quest publisher Chris Meigher with famed photographer Harry Benson. The pair were having lunch to discuss Benson coming aboard to write a column reminiscing about a few of his more famous pictures, a role the late Slim Aarons held at the magazine until his death. When your competitors are publishing entire issues of nothing but party pictures, why not run a column that features vintage party pictures?

19. That would have been us sitting here.

20. This table sat squarely in our blind spot today. Anyone know who was sitting here?

21. A Today reunion: Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley, together again. Gumbel seemed to be limping a little when he arrived, muttering something about “things break down.” (Like his knees, maybe?) He still looked as boyish as ever, and was rocking the tweed sportcoat-pocket square-and-jeans look.

22. The Week’s Margaret Carlson presided over this quartet of women.

23. A much more quiet table for John Huey and his interrogator, the FT’s media editor Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, who spent the entire meal taking rigorous notes for the paper’s “Lunch with the FT” column appearing in the Weekend editions. (We cannot stress this enough: you must read the Weekend FT. It blows The Wall Street Journal’s competing edition away.) “How much are they paying you?” Huey drawled when Laurel slide over to say hello.

25. Don Welsh, Jake Hill and an unidentified woman were celebrating Welsh’s birthday a few days in advance. Welsh is turning 63, Hill told us. The pair were hanging out because Hill is assisting Welsh on his latest project, the spinoff magazine Outside Go. Hill, who tried his best to stave off the inevitable at Spin before its sale, is cooking up projects of his own these days, too. And guess what, it’s not just a magazine.

27. Laurel dropped by to say hello to Judith Newman (her legendarily catty profile of Bonnie Fuller in Vanity Fair is one of our favorites) and radio man Walter Sabo.

28. Arch-publicist Peggy Siegal.

29. Author and journalist Michael Gross with the gorgeous Chris Taylor (Laurel demanded the use of that adjective, but why not, it’s true). We were more fascinate with Gross’ watch, a tiny vintage Rolex he had reconditioned. He a second with him that was on its way to be repaired. Where do you find them, we asked? “eBay,” he drolly replied, and as a result, we have our eye on a 1940s Rolex “Oyster” watch on eBay as we type this.

30. Just a pair of civilians, we think.

Also seen today, by someone: Liz Finkle and Gillian Miniter; Henry Schleiff (unconfirmed; we didn’t see him), and Myrne Blyth.

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

Map of Michael’s