— DIANE CLEHANE
It would have been hard to beat the head-spinning scene that I witnessed at Michael’s last Wednesday, but this week came close. A camera crew from WNBC-TV’s LX-TV was on hand filming a segment on celebrity lunch spots as the masters of the universe (Barry Diller) and socialites (Melania Trump, swathed in mink) strolled in and air-kissed their way to their tables. When Amy Rosenblum, the show’s producer, heard I was having lunch with comedy icon Sinbad and his family to talk about their new reality show for WE tv, her ears perked up. “Perfect!” she said. “We’ll come over and borrow him for our segment. “
Having never met the comedian, I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find that 10 minutes after the family arrived (right on time!) fresh off their morning at SiriusXM, it felt as if I’d known them all forever. They’re the anti-Osbournes! Named one of the Top 100 Stand-up Comedians of All Time by Comedy Central and a sitcom (A Different World, The Sinbad Show) vet, Sinbad told me the new show, Sinbad: It’s Just Family (premiering April 12 at 10 pm on WE tv) is a marked departure of the bumper crop of dysfunctional family fright fests that populate the reality TV landscape.
“These producers want meltdowns and dramas, but most of the dramas wouldn’t happen if people weren’t shooting their show. Most reality shows have an agenda and you have to understand that. I got about 80 percent of what I wanted. I was the voice of reason. We picked and chose what we wanted to shoot.” Any scenes in the master bedroom were off-limits, he said. “That’s just not respectful.” Instead, the show focuses on his version of family life — his re-marriage to his ex-wife Meredith Adkins and his relationship with his two “grids” (semi-grown kids) Paige and Royce. When he’s not on the road doing stand-up, he’s home keeping things together — his way. “The show is not about some comedian looking for a comeback because I never went away!” he quipped.
I had to ask him what he thought of this season’s Celebrity Apprentice since he appeared on season three of the show. “Donald Trump likes fights. He likes drama,” he told me. “That’s why Meat Loaf and Gary Busey are still around. That’s what people want to watch.” As for his take on his former cast mates: “Brett Michaels was a baby and Sharon Osbourne has the filthiest mouth of any woman I’ve ever met. She faked being sick just so she could miss being project manager for the first three weeks.” He also has choice words for Ozzy Osbourne. “That show they did made him look like a fool. Do you really want people to remember you like that? These people are stars and they don’t really think about how they want to be perceived.”
For their show, Sinbad and the family “focused on the positive” and shot weeks of 12-14 hour days for six episodes, which was quite an adjustment. “It’s the most time we’ve spent together since the kids were babies,” says Meredith. “We were miked all the time and had to remind ourselves that they were recording everything.”
Royce is a college student studying audio sound engineering, and Paige is an R&B artist (Meredith is her manager) who co-wrote all the songs on her new album, Imperfect Me. Both had to be convinced to do the show at first, but wound up enjoying the experience. Proud Papa says of their TV debut: “He surprised me and she turned out to be quite the daredevil.” In one episode, Paige convinced the family to try out a trapeze park, and the producers were only too happy to get it all for the show. “That’s what was so great about the show. If we wanted to do something and the producers thought it was a great idea, they made it happen,” says Paige. “The flip side was we were having family barbecues, and there was someone standing on the driveway handing out releases for our friends to sign. That was a little strange but we got used to it.”
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Sinbad, his wife Meredith Adkins, daughter Paige, son Royce and yours truly.
2. Project Playlist CEO John Sykes and Brian Bedol
3. Melania Trump and designer Rachel Roy. I was nearly blinded when I happened to look over at The Donald’s better half and spotted the sparkler on her ring finger. And, yes, she is even more gorgeous in person.
4. Barry Diller
5. Allen & Co.’s Stan Shuman and another distinguished gent
6. The Imber Gang: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Andy Bergman, Michael Kramer and Jeff Greenfield.
7. LX-TV’s Jane Hanson and Amy Rosenblum
8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia, pulling a double shift. His early lunch date was Ruth Shuman (Stan’s ex) and, after she departed, Alexandra Lebenthal arrived. Funny enough, I had just finished Alexandra’s book, The Recessionistas, on the way in this morning. (I was so engrossed that the conductor on my train had to tell me we’d arrived in Grand Central!) It’s a terrific page-turner which chronicles the lives of a fictitious set of rich and powerful Manhattanites as they implode during the financial meltdown of 2008. A fun, dishy read!
10. Uber publicist Cindi Berger, who will be among next week’s recipients of The Matrix Awards given out by New York Women in Communications. Congrats! Cindi has tapped none other than Rosie O’Donnell to present her with her award. Things could get interesting. The last time Rosie was on stage for the Matrix Awards some time ago, she unleashed some pretty colorful language that stunned the crowd. I’m guessing she’ll be a bit better behaved now that she is launching her new show on OWN.
11. Paradigm Talent’s Lawrence Stuart with former Fox News anchor Laurie Dhue, who made headlines back in February when she revealed her “at least” a decade and a half battle with alcoholism on Today . “It’s one day at a time,” she says of her sobriety.” We wish her well.
12. Piers Morgan’s executive producer Jonathan Wald (long time no see!) and The Wall Street Journal’s Katie Rosman. Jonathan tells me things are going great guns on the new show. Piers’ first out of the gate sit-down with Charlie Sheen was a ratings bonanza (shocking, I know). Later this month, the show heads across the pond to England to cover the royal wedding. Piers, who in a former life was editor of British tab The Sun, is sure to have some exclusives up his well-tailored sleeve.
14. Men’s Health honcho David Zinczenko and Today show producer Noah Kotch.
15. Steve Rattner
16. Social swans Joanne De Guardiola and Amy Fine Collins
17. Oxygen Media founder Geraldine Layborne
18. Two legends having lunch: Sir Harry Benson, who has taken some of the most breathtaking celeb photos ever (including many of Elizabeth Taylor that populated the recent tributes to the late actress) and legendary tastemaker John Loring, design director emeritus of Tiffany & Co.
20. My pal, producer Joan Gelman and literary agent Lynn Goldberg
21. Public relations princess Elizabeth Harrison with an equally stylish gal
22. Amanda Haynes Dale
23. Producer Desiree Gruber (Mrs. Kyle MacLachlan) and Marie Claire fashion director Nina Garcia
24. The Wall Street Journal’s David Sanford
25. Tom Goodman and Arthur Sando. I caught up with Arthur in the lounge while he was waiting for Tom and happened to catch a glimpse of his World Series Ring. Arthur, who is on the board of directors of Joe Torre’s Safe at Home Foundation, got his when the Yankees won the 1996 World Series. It even has his name engraved on one side just like the players. Impressive!
26. Jack Myers
27. Richard Wurman
28. Hill & Knowlton’s Jonathan Capehart. We love you on Morning Joe!
29. Missy Godfrey
30. My pal, author Pamela Keogh and the always dapper Joseph Montebello
Faces in the crowd: Barneys’ new fashion director, the incredibly chic Amanda Brooks and a casually clad Alexis Glick at separate tables the Garden Room …. Fox News’ Kimberly Guilfoyle enjoying a very late lunch after most of the dining room cleared out.
Please send comments and corrections to DianeClehane AT mediabistro Dot com and lunch at mediabistro DOT com.