Lunch: Joy Behar, Star Jones & Another Sarah Palin Doppelganger



What recession? The joint was jumping at Michael’s today. Media mavens, television types and fashionistas were still trying to digest the week’s head spinning events but, in true New York style, weren’t letting a worldwide tanking economy get in the way of a good time. There was plenty of buzz about last night’s debate — a few folks in the dining room today watched the whole thing go down at Denise Rich’s house. The verdict: Obama won and will win.

The ‘other side of the aisle’ was more than represented when Loreal Sherman, Michael’s tireless and terrific maitre d’, launched into a dead-on imitation of Gov. Sarah Palin for departing diners Joy Behar and CNN’s Jon Klein. Ducking inside the coat closet after donning some clear square framed glasses and using the door as her debate podium, Loreal had the gathering crowd in stitches as she improvised a performance of Palin’s indelible one-liners from her debate with Joe Biden last week. Afterwards, when I told her I marveled at her ability to do spontaneous stand-up, Loreal confessed she’s a professionally trained performer who once sang at Carnegie Hall. Memo to Tina Fey: You can’t be everywhere, so if you’re ever in need of a stand-in (who even looks like you!) Loreal is your girl. You know where to find her.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Star Jones, who called minutes before noon after “a really important meeting” for a table for herself and her entourage. The mood was pretty upbeat (we overheard Star cracking some Sarah Palin jokes) and there was wine all around. When I asked the usually chatty Star about what she was dishing about with her pals, she slipped on her shades and said, “Business, Business,” before sauntering out with nary a look in Joy Behar’s direction.

2. CBS spinmeister Gil Schwartz (who is always smart enough to make his reservation for Wednesday!) with Madison Square Garden’s human resource honcho John D. Moran.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong sporting his Obama button — and talking (what else?) politics — with Cynthia Brill and major democratic booster Maureen White.

4. New York’s First Lady Michelle Paterson with Alexa Eaton and Debbie Bancroft. Word is Mrs. Paterson is “not pleased” with New York magazine’s cover story on her husband. Well, we’ll say this, the cover line “David Paterson Didn’t Ask For This” was perfect.

5. Jonathan Tisch and CBS News’ chief Sean McManus

6. The Imber Gang was out in full force: Dr. Gerry Imber, Jeff Della Femina, Michael Kramer, Andy Bergman and Jeff Greenfield. When I asked Jeff if he felt Tom Brokaw’s pain in trying to reign in the candidates during last night’s debate and stick to the format their camps had agreed upon, he offered up this succinct summation of the unruly affair: “Short of tasering those guys there’s really nothing you can do.” No word on whether Bob Schieffer will be packing next week at Hofstra.

7. First shift: Gerry Byrne with a gent we didn’t recognize. Second seating: my pal Beverly Cahme with former talent exec Diane Passage who told me she’s taken her first stab at writing and is shopping a new book which explores “How to think like a man and act like a woman to get what you want.” We’re all ears …

8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia and Alice Mason.

9. Jaqui Lividini.

10. George Leeds.

11. Linda Janklow

14. Hearst’s Cathie Black and Susan Mercandetti.

16. CNN’s Jon Klein, Joy Behar and a dark-haired mystery gal. Rumor has it the gals from The View will look pretty presidential come Halloween. You heard it here first!

17. Deborah Grubman with Full Frontal Fashion’s Judy Licht.

18. Peter Brown and Shirley Lord. Peter stopped by the bar to chat with Michael McCarty and me about that New York magazine cover story. We all agreed that David Paterson has a fascinating personal story and appears, at least for the moment, to have some “sensible” solutions about Gotham’s looming problems.

19. Ewan Rellie (Lucy Sykes’ hubby, just in case you didn’t know).

20. Liz Robbins and Jane Buffett.

21. Scott Donaton and Max Robins.

22. Kate Betts and Cartier’s Nicole Ehrbar.

23. Sheri Wilson-Gray and EBay’s fashion director Constance White.

24. Martin Puris.

26. Betsy Perry.

27.’s Samir Arora with public relations guru Andy Morris.

28. The “Prince of Chintz” Mario Buatta.

Faces in the crowd: My good pals Kira Semler and Vi Huse (“the bar-ettes”) enjoying their monthly champagne luncheon at the bar. See you in a few weeks and thanks for all your kind words. Much appreciated!

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