Niche Media's nascent Michigan Avenue magazine hosted the first of what is likely to be many Windy City parties yesterday. This one celebrated Arianna Huffington's new book, Right Is Wrong. To explain her connection with the publishing company and its C.E.O., the author told the crowd of approximately 150 guests, “Jason Binn won my admiration when he met my 13-year-old daughter and asked her to be a columnist for Los Angeles Confidential,” referring to one of the company's 20 city-specific publications.
Huffington later became a columnist herself for Capitol File, Niche's Washington, D.C., edition. Recently named one of Time magazine's “100 Most Influential People,” Huffington was on hand to sign copies of her book and to help garner buzz for Chicago's new luxury lifestyle mag, which will launch this year with a September issue. The mag's marketing manager, Kelly Ryan O'Brien, worked with XA, the Experiential Agency to produce the book party.
Politically minded society types filled the private event space at Fleming's Steakhouse, a clubby chain that opened in River North in April. Blown-up mock covers of Michigan Avenue (featuring Huffington) dotted the space. Fleming's waiters weaved in and out of the standing-room-only crowd, carrying silver platters laden with hors d'oeuvres such as tuna tartare on thick cucumber slices and slivers of rare roast tenderloin, as well as glasses of Moët Whitestar and mini bottles of Fiji Water.
Huffington took questions during a Q&A session. The first was, “Who will be the next president?” and her answer was local favorite Barack Obama—an answer that received a rousing reply from the crowd. (Indeed, most questions were, surprise surprise, Obama-focused.) But the biggest reaction came in response to Huffington's recount of her appearance on The Colbert Report last week. “I told Stephen that Iraq is John McCain's Viagra,” she joked.
Binn used the evening as a platform to introduce Michigan Avenue publisher Dan Uslan and executive editor Susanna Homan. “This event is distinct and different from anything anyone else is doing in the city,” Homan said. “You can expect more of the same from Michigan Avenue magazine.”