Lunch: Renee Zellweger Stops By

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— DIANE CLEHANE

You know things are really hopping at 55th and Fifth when Renee Zellweger doing her movie-star best to go unnoticed — sporting a gorgeous white coat, oversized shades and sky high stilettos — barely warranted a second glance from today’s power lunch crowd. Perhaps that’s because the media mavens and moguls that were plotting their next big move over their cobb salads and iced tea have always found their own lives much more fascinating than the life of anyone whose wardrobe has been deconstructed on the pages of People.

I was thrilled to forego my usual perch at the bar (which was SRO anyway and so was the lounge!) to join Deborah Norville for some tasty dish at table one. Deborah, one of the nicest women in television, has hosted Inside Edition for — can you believe it? — 13 years. We’ve got to know each other after I profiled her last year for our So What Do You Do? series. At that time, Deborah had scored a spot on The New York Times best-seller list with her book Thank You Power ,which reports on the transformative power of concentrating on the positive aspects of one’s life. She supported this theory with real scientific data and some truly fascinating anecdotes. Turns out she’s still riding high all these months later — the book is such a huge hit in Korea, of all places, that folks there are at work on constructing a ‘Thank You’ wall where people can come and connect with their own life-changing positive energy. So all you gloom and doomers out there &#151′ buck up. There’s nothing a little hard work, a good attitude and some gratitude can’t do. Except maybe fix the stock market or Eliot Spitzer‘s marriage — but that’s another story entirely.

I can think of one company where the offices must be full of good cheer these days. There’s plenty of happy folks over at Rodale where president and CEO Steven Pleshette Murphy is presiding over some pretty heady times. Just this week, Men’s Health honcho and editorial director of Best Life David Zinczenko was named Adweek‘s Editor of The Year. Rodale also cornered the market on Adweek 10 Under 50 Hot List (10 titles with less than $50 million in annual advertising revenue) — Women’s Health earned the top spot, Best Life came in at No. 2 and Bicycling scored the 10th position. Congrats!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Deborah Norville, yours truly and business consultant Elinor Morris. I asked Deborah — who, in her former life, sat next to Bryant Gumbel on Today‘s couch — for her take on the news Kathie Lee Gifford will be joining the NBC morning show to host the fourth hour. “I called her Monday morning to congratulate her,” says Deborah. “I think it’s terrific that television bosses are finally recognizing the fact that people watch people they know on television. No public relations campaign, marketing blitz or low cut sweater is going to change that. I think it’s terrific that she was invited to return to television. She’ll be great.”

2. Page Six editor Richard Johnson (looking as dapper as ever), Chris Taylor and Matt Frankel, a senior vice president of The Weinstein Company.

3. Terry Allen Kramer (check out the hilarious anecdote she shared about her almost doing the Full Monty for President Bush when she met him recently in Cindy Adams column in today’s Post) with her grandson.

4. Frank Gifford — send our congrats to Kathie Lee!


5. Gerald Schoenfeld with Michael Kramer.

6. And the rest of the Imber gang: Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina and the guys…

7. Peggy Siegal with Hugh Dancy (filming “Confessions of A Shopaholic” down the street) and pals. Gerald Schoenfeld, who was working the room like nobody’s business, settled in for a chat after his lunch with Michael Kramer.

8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia, a stunning lady in turquoise and some other well dressed folks…

10. Sherry Rollins.

11. Rodale’s Steven Pleshette Murphy with Karen Rinaldi, senior vice president, general manager and publishing director of Rodale Books. David Zinczenko and Best Life‘s editor Steve Perrine were having a “working lunch” at the bar where Steve was nice enough to give me a sneak peak at his May cover featuring Jason Bateman, who is hotter than hot coming off Juno (and, in my opinion, was the best-dressed guy at this year’s Academy Awards).

12. Mickey Ateyeh and Metropolitan Opera star Deborah Voight.

14. Steve Rubenstein.

15. John Sykes and Gerry Byrne, who says he’s “having fun” with his gig as senior vice president of Nielsen’s Entertainment Group.

16. Joan Hamburg, who told me upon surveying today’s crowd: “I could book my show from here. I think I better start doing more lunches.” Indeed.

17. Judy Price.

18. Early shift: Business Week‘s media columnist (and hubby of mediabistro.com’s founder Laurel Touby) Jon Fine with John Huey. Says Jon of his lunch date: “We’re always looking for new talent at BusinessWeek and we’ve heard some good things about this guy…” Second seating: Renee Zellweger (currently starring in the unfortunately-titled Leatherheadswith two — count ’em two! — pals-slash-handlers)

19. Beverly Camhe.

20. The ladies who lunch: Diana Taylor and Mercedes Bass.

21. Quest‘s Chris Meigher and friends.

22. Diane Sokolow.

23. Susan Zirinsky and Lisa Caputo. Susan is the executive producer of CBS’ 48 Hours Mystery. For those of you who find yourselves home on a Saturday night (come on, admit it, it’s exhausting being so fabulous during the week — Saturday nights are for amateurs anyway), tune into this CBS stalwart and you won’t be disappointed. I find the stories of the bloody crimes and misdemeanors covered by this show fascinating…

24. Scott Donaton.

25. Don Welsh.

26. Herb Allen.

27. Reese Schoenfeld.

28. Hearst’s public relations honcho Deb Shriver.

Faces in the crowd: My pal Dr. Robi Ludwig invited me to stop by for a chat and meet Stephanie Hirsch, author of the new book Mother Nurture (William Morrow). Seems Stephanie, after giving birth to her son, Hunter, found herself “in a state of panic” over the eternal struggle how to juggle work and family (oh, how we can relate!) and wanted to know how she could raise a well-adjusted, successful and kind child. “I knew I had to speak to Steven Spielberg‘s mother,” says Stephanie. “Because she’s raised such a successful son.” Makes sense to us. Enterprising Stephanie, with the help of coauthor Hannah Seligson, turned her idea into a book which features insights from other mothers who raised some pretty successful types including Beyonce (She and Jay-Z got their wedding license in Scarsdale yesterday. Just thought you’d like to know) Lance Armstrong and Matt Lauer. Also celebrating today: truTV’s Lisa Bloom, whose mom attorney Gloria Allred shares her secrets of raising a terrific daughter and Meryl Poster. I know what I’ll be reading this weekend…

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

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