Harvey Weinstein, Ali MacGraw and the Brains Behind Coffee With Tim Cook

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Where to begin? This week at 55th and Fifth, the scene in the dining room provided whiplash-inducing people watching with a tasty mix of moguls on the menu (Harvey Weinstein, Jimmy Finkelstein) with a side of social swans (Sharon Bush, Patricia Kluge, Terry Allen Kramer).

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Wednesday at Michael’s without the random celebrity sighting. I was thrilled to hear that I would be sitting next to none other than Ali MacGraw today. The ageless actress, who catapulted into the pop culture hall of fame with her iconic performance (and preppy wardrobe) in the 1970 tearjerker Love Story, turned every head in the place when she arrived — which is quite a feat among this crowd. She was beyond gracious as diners (including yours truly) lined up for pictures. Several years ago, I worked with her on The Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars where she was honored with FGI’s entertainment award for her contributions to film and fashion. When I re-introduced myself, she immediately said, “Oh, I remember that night. It was so much fun!” and then proceeded to tell me this delicious bit of gossip from the evening: “I was standing next to Bill Blass when he saw Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones come in. And Bill turned to the person next to him and said, “Finally, some real movie stars!” She giggled, clearly delighted by the memory of the snarky diss from the designer.

Diane Clehane and Coppy Holzman
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Speaking of the power of celebrity, I was joined today by Charitybuzz CEO and founder Coppy Holzman who dazzled me with tales of his work with the famous and philanthropic. His company, which he founded in 2005, is currently the world’s largest online charity auction site and is the go-to partner for every famous person with a charity looking to raise serious money for their pet causes.

It all started at a backyard fundraising party for The Clinton Library in Westport, Connecticut that Coppy attended where he met President Bill Clinton and Chevy Chase. “Isn’t there a way  for you to use your experience on the Internet to raise for the library?” the host of the party asked Coppy. On the spot, he came up with the idea of auctioning off a lunch with the former president. One year later, The Chevy Chase Earth Day Auction brought in $250,000 for the library, including $80,000 paid by one bidder to lunch with Clinton and Chase. Since then, Coppy has worked with Clinton on many different initiatives. “There is no bigger celebrity in the world,” he says. The top dollar paid to spend the day with Hillary’s husband: $255,000 in an auction last year.

You name the celebrity, and Coppy and his teams in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, DC have worked with them. From Bruce Springsteen (who made an appearance last weekend at his event at the Tribeca Grill benefiting the Kristen Ann Carr Fund) to Beyonce who recently inked a deal with Charitybuzz and has set aside a number of tickets from her “Mrs. Carter” tour for the auction site. Among the other high profile do-gooders who have raised funds with Charitybuzz: Ben Stiller (“The nicest guy you’d ever want to meet”), Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren (who auctions off all kinds of fashionista fantasies, like front row tickets to his show or a private viewing of his vintage car collection all to raise money for his breast cancer foundation Pink Pony), Tory Burch (“So genuinely generous”) Sir Paul McCartney (who began working with Coppy to raise money for land mine victims and now raises funds for a host of other causes) and Lauren Bush (for her FEED charity).

Just today, Charitybuzz launched an initiative for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights with an auction for coffee with Apple CEO Tim Cook at Apple headquarters in California. Bidding started at 11 am, and at press time 30 bidders had bid up the cost of the experience to over $75,000. The auction is on track to be a record breaker. “We might even hit $100,000 today!” predicts Coppy. The winner of the auction is sure to get another surprise: a personal call from Ethel Kennedy. “Ethel is the most sincere, humane and engaged person I have ever met,” Coppy tells me. “She calls every person who supports the RFK Center and personally thanks them whether they spend $100 or $100,000.”