It's a good thing Times dining critic Frank Bruni reviews food for a living, which only relies on his sense of taste and not his eyesight. The photo that accompanied his takedown of power lunch spot Michael's yesterday included quite the collection of moguls in the background, not that Bruni—or anyone else at the Times—seemed to notice. In the audio interview that accompanied the review, Bruni says that the eatery "seems to draw in particularly large measure from the publishing, literary and journalistic worlds. You know, you might see someone like Graydon Carter there. Apparently, you do see some celebrities there. I didn't spot them, but maybe I just missed them as I was hustled to Siberia." Carter isn't much of a Michael's devotee, actually, but perhaps Bruni should have taken a closer look at the picture that accompanied his review.
While the photo wasn't taken on one of the days Bruni visited the restaurant himself to sample the food, an eagle-eyed commenter on Eater.com suggested that Michael Ovitz was in the background. (He is; he's No. 5). When we took a closer look, we noticed billionaire financier Leon Black sitting off to the left (No. 2). Then we turned to Mediabistro, which provides ridiculously breathlessly coverage of Michael's every week, and what do you know? They were on the scene the same day the Times photographer turned up—September 3rd—and allowed us to tick off Showtime CEO Matt Blank (No. 3), Barry Diller (No. 4), and Black's dining companion, CBS chief Les Moonves (No. 1). Even better: Watch the audio interview with Bruni and accompanying slide show and as you hear Frank mention that he didn't see anyone notable at the restaurant, you'll see pictures with Diane Sawyer, Tina Brown, Kathleen Turner, and Peggy Siegal in the background.
We called up Steve Millington, Michael's genial general manager, for a comment. Millington didn't want to get into details about the Bruni affair. But employees are standing strong. "We're proud of what we do here," he said.