Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cold and Sorta Sunny

Looking north on Park Avenue South towards Grand Central Station. 1:30 PM. Photo: JH.
January 15, 2009. Yesterday was a cold and sorta sunny Wednesday in New York. Freezing temps and snow forecast by the time you’re reading this.

Lunch with an old friend at Michael’s. When we arrived, there were more than a dozen photographers standing outside on the sidewalk, next to the restaurant’s windows, although organized in two separate banks, as if someone had told them the borderline. Just standing around. Celebrity inside.

Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell
The celebrity? Paul McCartney. And with the tall brunette with the long hair. Nancy Shevell. That was the consensus in the room. The new girlfriend. The British tabloids et al could use that. They were with Barbara Walters who was looking very chic in her little black Chanel like suit with a diamond brooch on one shoulder. And John Eastman who is not a well known face or name to the photographers or the reporters or even the lunch crowd, but ... is the brains.

Mr. Eastman is the brother of the late Linda McCartney and has for years had a business relationship with his famous brother-in-law. He is a lawyer and represents some very important names in the arts, such as the DeKoonig estate.

Someone who knows about these things once told me that John Eastman is the toughest, smartest business negotiator. In other words if he sells your business for you, you’re easy aces. A lawyer by profession, from the outside, he’s a sixty-ish conservative, post preppie/Ivy League looking fellow with a craggy yet boyish face and a sunny expression, belying almost any and all of the above. He and his wife Jody are very popular members of the New York/East Hampton axis and big supporters of their favored philanthropies.

That’s the intrigue, for this reporter, of Michael’s as a luncheon meeting place. You see the famous faces and names along with the unfamous and the twist is, it’s often those “unknown” faces and names in the fourth chair that pull the strings and make the wheels turn. And/or enrich their friends and relatives. There’s the really interesting story.

John Eastman
Sir Paul, as many already know, was on Ms. Walters’ “The View,” a little earlier, and so I guess they came from the studio. The first table he was given was in the bay – a very favorable spot where all kinds of names have lunched including the Clintons and Sir Elton, Sir Mick, and just about everyone other Major Star who’s made a lunch date at Michael’s.

Sir Paul didn’t like his table, however. Well, the photographers were leering in the window with their cameras looking for the Money shot of Macca (as he’s known in Britain) with his new luv, Nancy.

So Michael McCarty and Steve Millington moved the party to the corner (also an “important” table in this scheme of things). But the photogs could still see him! So they moved again, farther back into the dining room where their faces were lost in the crowd. I couldn’t even see him from my table.

It was one of those Wednesdays at Michael’s
and the energy was as if it were just fine and dandy. Or, the way it is. A relief, however momentary, that’s for sure. The table in the bay was taken by the Old Pals Club, Michael Kramer, Jerry Della Femina, Dr Gerry Imber, Andrew Bergman et al. Joe Armstrong was lunching with Glamour Magazine’s Cindi Leive. Ms. Leive will be attending the Inauguration next Tuesday. She told Joe that guests are to arrive at the inaugural platform at 7:30 am!!! Yes. And if it’s a cold one, then “oy’s” the only word for it.

Cornelia Guest
I had two beautiful blondes at the table next to me, Cornelia Guest and Linda Janklow. I didn’t overhear their conversation but it intrigued me anyway. Both are girls with dynastic histories with all the elements of fact and fiction; and from different ends of the Continent yet self-transplanted in each case. Both had mothers with powerful and dominant personalities and high sociability quotients.

Both have a great deal in common although to the world quite different: Linda is a Hollywood kid, wife of a great literary agent, mother of talented grown-ups and a New Yorker through and through. Cornelia is debutante, actress, horsewoman, an animal lover, an heiress, a very sociable woman but often solo and often uninterested in the social; a horsewoman, actress, now occupies the last house of her parents – Templeton – on Long Island. With her animals and near her horses.

Gerry Byrne was lunching with Mort Zuckerman. At nearby tables were Debbie Bancroft, Barbara Cirkva, David Carey of Conde Nast; Zoe Baird (remember, Clinton’s first Attorney General appointment? -- first term; terminated because she had had a domestic employee who was an immigrant for whom she did not deduct). Just like what’s going on now with Mr. Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury appointment, Mr. Geithner.

Kathie Lee Gifford
Ms. Baird is now head of the Markle Foundation and on the board of the Brookings. Moving through the room: Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Editor and columnist for the Financial Times; Henry and Marie-Josee Kravis lunching a deux, Fern Mallis, Ginny (Mrs. Henry) Mancini who now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles; Kathie Lee Gifford with Brian Balthazar, Richard Johnson with Jill Brooke, former Page Six reporter and now publisher; John Sykes and Frederic Fekkai, Nick Verbitskky, Jonanthan Wald of the "Today Show," Samantha Topping, Sherrie Rollins, Howard Rubenstein; Chris Meigher with Jim Mitchell; Betsy Perry, Charles Stevenson, Joan Gelman and Sandy Pearl, George Malkemus the man from Manolo with Andre Leon Talley. Mr. Talley is also going to the Inaugural as escort to Diane Von Furstenberg since her husband cannot make it. So, there will be much to hear of what Andre sees; also Euan Rellie who is also the husband of Lucy Sykes; Stephen Swid, Carol Weisman.

When it came time for Sir Paul (or Macca)
to leave, he was able to do something that few can do (or even know about) in Michael’s, and that is to leave by the backdoor which somehow lets onto the garden and the building’s sister building on West 54th Street. For those who don’t know, the building where Michael’s is located, is a landmark, Art Deco style luxury apartment co-op which was built by the Rockefeller Family many decades ago. It occupies the plot from 54th to 55th with a garden in the middle. The “back room” at Michael’s has a wall of glass overlooking this garden.

Sir Paul has property on West 54th Street, as does his brother-in-law, as does Michael McCarty and the Man from Manolo, Mr. Malkemus. So it’s all kinds of one great big neighborhood in the middle of the Big Town. That’s New York.

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