Lunch: Barbara Walters, Frank Langella & Kathie Lee Gifford


It was a tasty mix of media mavens, social types and the random celebrity (Frank Langella was in the house!) on the menu at Michael’s today: The dining room was so packed, they were shoehorning tables in everywhere. I was glad I got there early so I was able to grab some of the regulars on the way to their tables before they got down to some serious dining and dishing. Kathie Lee Gifford was one of the first to arrive, announcing, “Ah, springtime!” as she came through the door. She’s got plenty to smile about these days as her latest book, Just When I Thought I’d Dropped My Last Egg (Ballantine), hit the New York Times bestseller list. I just has to ask Kathie Lee what she thought about her pal Joan Rivers winning The Celebrity Apprentice, besting her arch enemy poker player Annie Duke and the nasty showdown the women had on the finale. “I was thrilled for her. Anyone that knows Joan knows she’s a friend to the end — and any time a 75-year-old wins anything, it’s good for all of us!”

I was lunching today with Alexandra Trower, Estee Lauder’s executive vice president of global communications. This consummate public relations pro has been with the company just over a year now, having made the switch from banking (she was SVP of media relations for Bank of America) to the beauty biz. This week, Alex scored a major hit with a front-page story on Estee Lauder’s new CEO Fabrizio Freda in WWD Beauty Biz. We had a terrific chat about the famous faces and captains of industry we’ve both come to know. It’s amazing what a small world Manhattan can be!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Today show twosome Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb with Kathie Lee’s right-hand gal Christine and Hoda’s chic pal Sunny

2. Literary lioness Lynn Nesbitt and Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong dining with Kerry Kennedy and her charming young daughter Michaela

4. Barbara Walters and Frank Langella

5. Michael J. Wolff and another serious-looking fellow…

6. Betsy Perry, Joe Versace and two other distinguished folks

7. The Financial Times‘ Chrystia Freeland (who is due any day now!) and pals

8. The ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield and Andy Bergman. I always enjoy dishing with the good doctor and today we shared a chuckle over the bad plastic surgery on display in last night’s premiere of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. His philosophy on “freshening”: “Someone has to know when to say when. If not the patient, then the doctor,” says Gerry. “I had a patient come into my office today who said she almost cancelled because of all the scary things she saw on Park Avenue on her way to my office.” Yikes!

9. Pam Keogh and her dad Peter (Happy Birthday!)

11. Rob Weisbach

12. Public relations maven Sandi Mendelson

14. Alice Mayhew

15. Peter Price

16. Social swans Blaine Trump (looking fit and fabulous in her leopard ensemble and, I’m guessing, some expertly applied self tanner), Cece Cord and Becca Thrash

17. Judy Price and jewelry legend Kenneth Jay Lane

18. Town & Country editrix Pamela Fiori with, we’re told, Danny Kaye’s daughter

81. Lally Weymouth with a chic-looking friend

19.Vera Wang’s senior vice president of communications, Elizabeth Musmanno

20. Hearst publicity princess Deb Shriver and Rita Jamais

21. Alexandra Trower and yours truly

82. Paul Fribourg, chairman and CEO of Continental Grain and a member of Estee Lauder’s board of directors with another distinguished-looking gent…

22. Steve Wasserman, who, a little birdie told me, is working on a book about Jackie O’s days as an editor.

23. The lady in red: Beth Dozoretz and pals

24. A family affair: Reader’s Digest‘s Mary Berner with her mom, dad and brother

25. Matt Higgins

26. Kathy Lacey, Jackie Leo and Shirley Lord

27. Elliot Kastner

28. Town & Country‘s dashing publisher Jim Taylor

29. Trident Media’s Dan Strone

30. Beauty Fashion’s George Leeds

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