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.

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