Anna Wintour was running over an hour late. It was an anomaly for the regimented and exalted editor of Vogue, who typically works through lunch but dined that day with her old friend Bruce Bozzi. Tucked away at the Italian spot Via Carota in New York’s West Village, she was unusually candid about showing up for personal relationships while creatively navigating Condé Nast.
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They weren’t alone. Beside them was Bozzi’s recorder, which captures his podcast “Table for Two.” In the series, Bozzi, a 32-year veteran of the hospitality industry and spouse of CAA super-agent Bryan Lourd, sits for languorous meals and expansive conversations with some of the boldest names in media. George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Sharon Stone and Scarlett Johansson have all been guests. Rosé is served, and so is the kind of candor displayed by Wintour. The show has quietly become an inside-Hollywood favorite — and not just because of his house- hold’s shared Rolodex.
“Our culture has shifted. You have these shows that are ultimately about people selling something or entertaining an audience with a game. For me, it’s about the conversation,” Bozzi tells Variety over Arnold Palmers on a sweltering day in Beverly Hills. “I’m from three generations of hospitality; it’s in my blood. I can listen. I can hear you. People feel safe.”
Bozzi’s family co-owned the once-venerable Palm Restaurant franchise, a coastal haven for the social elite established in 1926. He began as a barback and worked his way up to executive vice president. Three years ago, the company slipped out from under him in litigation involving other investors; it was sold to dining conglomerate Landry’s. (Ironically, in early August, Landry’s informed investors The Palm’s Beverly Hills location would be shuttering. They since have negotiated to stay, a spokesperson for the company said, but are “exploring options.”)
“I feel heartbroken. I think that will remain for the rest of my life,” Bozzi says, a rare cloud passing across his La Mer-smoothed complexion. “But at 57, I’m about to enter this new decade, and I’m thinking about how to be a better friend, a better husband and a better person to myself.”
After toying with the interview format on SiriusXM for a few years (a lunch-centered series doesn’t quite work in quarantine), Bozzi’s new podcast was launched in 2022 in partnership with Graydon Carter’s AirMail and iHeartRadio. Bozzi recalls the former Vanity Fair editor declaring, “No one sits with celebrities anymore. Nobody does what you’re doing.”
It doesn’t hurt that Bozzi shares the same native habitats — Los Angeles, New York, Palm Springs, the French Riviera — as his lofty guests. A father of two and grandparent to stepdaughter Billie Lourd’s kids, he’s been known to record his show directly from his kitchen (a compelling, boozy chat with Daniel Craig)
“Some people ding it as name-dropping, but these are my authentic relationships,” he says. “People can perceive my life a certain way, yes. But I’ve worked really hard since I’m 18 years old. I’ve worked every station at a restaurant and cleaned toilets in a suit.”
Although Bozzi is represented by CAA co-chairman Kevin Huvane, Lourd’s best friend, he and his husband keep their work lives separate. As Lourd recently reminded him, “You’re in show business now.” The podcast has been eyed for a TV pilot adaptation, and other hosting opportunities are on the table. But aside from the rarefied pleasure of unguarded celebrity kibitzing, embarking on a new career has offered Bozzi a deeper context for his identity — and what he may have been concealing all those years behind the host stand.
“Being in the service industry can bleed over into being of service in your life to other people. That can be very a lonely place,” he says. “Eventually, if you don’t understand who you are, you can become invisible.”Lately he’s been thinking a lot about the advice of his old friend Tom Ford, the designer and film- maker, who appeared on Bozzi’s podcast in May.
“He told me that at some point you have to give up wanting to be best in show,” Bozzi says, unconsciously clearing his glass and plates to the edge of the table, “and settle for being best in class.”