Lunch at Michael’s: Wesley Clark & A Model Mystery

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgWe missed Jane Fonda by a day. Today’s lunch crowd was lacking the star power we’ve come to expect on our weekly visits so while we were disappointed our usual perch at the bar had been usurped by an unidentified exec, we didn’t miss much from our less than stellar seat a few stools down. We were, though, happy to spot our pal Jack Kliger. Lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane chatted up the Hachette honcho about the latest celebrity implosion that’s got everyone buzzing — the Rosie O’Donnell trainwreck that left the station at Monday’s Matrix Awards and crashed and burned with today’s surprise announcement that she is leaving The View in mid-June due to a reported contract dispute.

Kliger was among the stunned crowd of media elite that had to suffer through O’Donnell’s profane performance as emcee of the event that had her soon to be ex-boss Barbara Walters laying her face in her hands from her seat on the dais alongside such luminaries as Hillary Clinton and Arianna Huffington. “It was absolutely disgusting,” he said, adding that the editors from Woman’s Day and other Hachette books at his table were equally sickened by the comedian’s performance. The veteran magazine executive, who knows a thing or two about working with celebrities (remember George?), says it was O’Donnell’s ill-fated stint helming her own magazine was the “turning point” against launching further titles with stars moonlighting as editors. “We’ve learned that you can cover celebrities without giving celebrities their own magazine.” For every Oprah, says Kliger, there are scores of over-inflated egos and Hollywood headcases that are deluded into thinking they can run a magazine. “I was getting at least a proposal week,” he recalls of those days when O’Donnell was still masquerading as “The Queen of Nice.” Everyone from Jennifer Lopez to Jane Pauley(“she was talking to everyone”) was interested in adding the title of editor-in-chief to their resumes — with no personal investment, of course, he recalls. Long before the 2,000 attendees of Matrix witnessed what seemed like O’Donnell’s latest effort at career suicide, Kliger told fellow publishing bigwigs they were crazy to tie their bottom line to the star. “She’s a time bomb.” No kidding.

The rest of the crowd:

1. Estee Lauder’s beauty brigade: Leonard Lauder, Sally Susman, some fresh faced young execs and the company’s latest “It” girl — a stunning brunette whose name no one seemed to know. Since she’s all over the pages of the May issue of Vogue that’s sure to change very soon.

2. A mystery … but we did notice that one fellow was a dead ringer for Michael J. Fox.

3. Peter Price and guest.

4. Ex-Time Inc. head Norman Pearlstine, who left early.

5. Matt Blank.

6. Self editrix Lucy Danziger and a table full of fashionistas.

7. Kliger, who patiently passed the time awaiting the arrival of Philippe Camus (who was clearly on Paris time) by chatting with us and a few other pals.

8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbiawith two distinguished gents: James Liall and Desmond Fitzgerald, the 29th Knight of Glin of Glin Castle (We’re not kidding). The dashing duo have just penned a book about Irish furniture published by Yale University Press.

9. Prudence Inzerillo.

11. Bob Friedman.

12. Larry Ashmeen and uberagent Michael Carlyle.

14. Time Warner’s Ed Adler and spinmeister Tom Goodman.

15. General Wesley Clark and (his?) agent Don Epstein. Just the sight of the retired four-star general and one time presidential candidate made us sit up a little straighter as he departed while shaking hands all around.

16. Rita Jamais, the former owner of La Caravelle, so we’re told …

17. We couldn’t see …

18. Movie mogul Lou Korman.

19. Civilians.

20. Lady in red: author Pamela Clarke Keogh— sporting an Obama supporter pin — and guest.

21. Jack Myers.

22. The spring flowers blocked our view …

23. Ditto.

24. Nick Rubinstein.

25. Another mystery …

26. Publisher’s Weekly‘s Sara Nelson.

27. Walter Sabo and Scott Singer who was celebrating week two on the job as managing Director, media, communications and technology at BMO Capital Markets. Congrats and thanks for stopping by the bar to say hello.

28. Jim Friedlich.

29. Jennifer Suarez, the new president of Evins Communications.
Please send comments and corrections to DianeClehane AT mediabistro Dot com and lunch at mediabistro DOT com.