Lunch at Michael’s: Forget Michael Caine — It’s Star Jones!

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgImagine our disappointment when we heard that had we chosen to come by on Monday, we’d have been sipping Bloody Marys at the bar with Claire Danes and Natasha Richardson. Luckily, there were enough faces in today’s crowd from filmdom, fashion and, of course, publishing to satisfy our appetite for observing bold face names in action.

While we were intrigued to spot Michael Caine and Vernon Jordan at opposite ends of the dining room, we were most interested to catch up with Star Jones who slipped in after most of the crowd had begun tucking into their Cobb salads. The svelte and smiling Star told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane that she’s thrilled about her yet to be titled Court TV show set to debut on August 20th. “They’re calling it The Star Jones Project for now,” she said over her lunch of soft-shelled crab. “I think they want to announce the name at TCA.” Was it really just a little under a year ago that Star’s tumultuous departure from The View was Barbara Walters‘ biggest problem? No matter. That’s all ancient history now anyway, says this fall’s comeback kid who plans to spend her summer vacation jetting between Europe and the Hamptons: “This is a joyous time in my life.” See, there really are happy endings.

Here’s a rundown of the crowd:

Table 1. Howard Rubenstein and Betsy Perry presiding over a table full of gents in suits and grand dames in pearls.

2. Star Jones and her friend David (whose last name we didn’t quite catch).

3. Jonathan Tisch, Wayne Tabach and a bespectacled gentleman we didn’t recognize …

4. Two-time Oscar winner Michael Caine (That’s Sir Michael to you) and, we’re told, Bobby Zarem‘s brother (?). Quick: For which films did this tireless thespian nab his little gold men? Answer: Cider House Rules in 1999 and Hannah And Her Sisters in 1986. According to Michael (McCarty, who owns the joint), Caine and his wife have dined here “hundreds of times” (we’ve just never seen them on our weekly Wednesday visits) and “usually prefer the Garden Room.” So take that all you wannabes — it’s not Siberia, it’s chic!

5. Peter Brown and guest.

6. Terry Allen Kramer, who passed the time waiting for fellow diners Margo McNabb and Claire Mercuri by checking her cell phone.

7. Dave Zinczenko with The Waverly Inn’s chef John DeLucie. The Men’s Health honcho, who has become something of a cheerleader for Graydon Carter‘s downtown hotspot, introduced John to Michael and general manager Steve Millington. The culinary confab kicked off a nonstop food fest that left DeLucie and Zinczenko begging for mercy. After sampling everything from salmon carpaccio to foie gras to duck, the duo joked that today’s meal was a marked departure from The Abs Diet. “It’s more like the three hour workout meal,” said Dave.

8. Getting an early start on the weekend: the casually clad Carson Kresley, Lisa Birnbach and a fellow in a Ward Cleaver-ish looking short-sleeved shirt. We can’t help but cite the former Queer Eye star-turned-QVC-pitchman for his fashion felony — flip flops at 55th and Fifth? We think not.

9. Sherry Rollins and guest.

11. Meredith Brokaw.

12. Janice Min (looking a bit dour all in black) with Esquire‘s David Granger and another bald fellow. A little birdy sidled up to us at the bar and uttered this tantalizing tidbit, “I bet she can’t wait to get away from Jann Wenner.” Hmmm …

14. Stanley Schuman.

15. Ed Adler.

16. Producer Joan Gelman and her sons.

17. Lynn Scherr and Peter Price.

18. Harper Collins’ David Hirshey, CBS spinmeister Gil Schwartz and Matthew Hiltzik.

20. PR maven Maury Rogoff and David Adler.

21. The incredibly dapper (and tall!) Vernon Jordan and guest.

22. Marshall Cohen with Lisa Gersh (President, COO and co-founder, Oxygen)

23. We couldn’t see …

24. Richard Sabo (Walter‘s brother) and Reese Schoenfeld. Big brother Walter tells us that Richard is chief investment officer at JP Morgan Chase …

25. Walter Sabo and UBS Bank’s Doug Land.

26. Media consultant Aaron Sigmond with Victoria McKee

27. Stu Zakim and pals New York Post media man Keith Kelly</strong, Patrick Reilly of Sirius, Arnie Huberman, Radar‘s Jeff Bercovici, BusinessWeek‘s (and our CEO’s hubby) Jon Fine, and PR pitchman Peter Himler. Stu reports Matt Hiltzik did a “drive by” before settling in at his table.

28. Kim Nelson.

29. Missy Godfrey.

At the bar: Mark Goldberg of Bronx Builders who got a hearty welcome from Michael and Steve. Indulging in a bit of nostalgia, Michael told us: “This guy built this place nineteen years ago in just 60 days when it was The Italian Pavilion with these heavy velvet drapes. Man, time flies!”

Please send all comments and corrections to diane AT mediabistro DOT com & lunch at mediabistro DOT com.