59148132Nicole Kidman’s 18-month-old daughter, Sunday Rose, is not only walking and talking but using baby sign language.

“She’s picked it right up,” Nicole told me yesterday at the swellicious lunch for the cast of “Nine” at the super fantastic Michelin star rated Per Se restaurant overlooking Columbus Circle.

Kidman was joined at her table by Anna Wintour, director Ron Howard, Harry Connick, Jr. and wife Jill Goodacre, Ingrid Sischy and Sandy Brant, and movie financier Ryan Kavanagh.

But around the Per Se dining room, as a select few dined on chef’Thomas Keller’s delectable morsels, it was quite a scene. “Nine” stars Daniel Day Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Dame Judi Dench, and Kate Hudson were divided up to captain their tables. And the guests weren’t bad, ranging from “Nine” director Rob Marshall, his choreographer sister Kathleen, to Liz Smith to Larry King, Cynthia McFadden (who really should be on “Good Morning America”), plus Bob and Lynne Balaban, Joel Grey, Tommy Tune, TV’s Bill McCuddy, casting director Amanda Mackey, and so on. It was all A-list people eating A-list food and saying A-list things. Harvey Weinstein was thrilled. His movies picked up about 25 nominations from the Broadcast Critics, and several more from different critics groups. And this is what people had to say:

Daniel Day Lewis thinks Jeff Bridges should win the Oscar for “Crazy Heart.” “Everyone loves him,” DDL told me, “and he’s so good.” Judi Dench told me that DDL has changed “completely” since the time they did “Hamlet” together on stage in London and Daniel had a breakdown. “He’s remarkable now,” Dench said, then told me all about starring in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” this winter at the National Theatre in London. “It’s extremely sold out,” she informed me when I asked about tickets. She also said she was thrilled finally to meet Joel Grey, Broadway’s sort of unofficial mayor. “He was in Cabaret!” Dench exclaimed.

Kate Hudson is not bringing A Rod to the “Nine” premiere tonight, but her mom, Goldie Hawn, instead. “She’s at the hotel getting ready,” Kate said. Marion Cotillard told me she’s spending Christmas in Brittany seeing her 100-year-old grandmother. Then it’s off to Tanzania for a week with her boyfriend before journeying to Los Angeles for awards season. Kidman bragged not only about Sunday Rose but about her 17-year-old daughter Bella ‘ she’s 17 already! ‘ who wants to go to art school. “She’s incredibly talented,” Nicole told us over lunch. “She expresses herself through drawing.” Nicole also told me she’s still intent on playing Dusty Springfield in the movies, and has Michael Cunningham slaving away on a script.

When someone complimented her on the “Unusual Ways” number in “Nine,” Kidman crinkled her nose. “Really?” she said. “I get so nervous when I’m singing. And I can’t do it in public.”

Ron Howard told us all about Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood,” which he and Brian Grazer are producing. “As soon as we saw the first rushes, we knew we were all right,” Howard said. “Wait til you see Cate Blanchett.” Harry Connick heads out on tour in January, which wife Jill and his three daughters aren’t thrilled about. But Connick concurred with other performers I’ve asked about touring: “I love it,” he said. “Not so much about the fans, but about the music.”

And the lunch ‘ it didn’t end until 4pm, at which point Marion Cotillard just about fainted from jet lag, Nicole Kidman went off to do interviews and several people went home to nap or change and get ready for Ryan Kavanagh’s cozy dinner at the Pierre Hotel’s new lounge for his Relativity Media.

And how did that go? Well, the guests there included Tobey Maguire, Rachel Weisz, Matthew Modine, Michael Shannon, Robert Wuhl, the aforementioned Ron Howard, Julie Taylor, Elliott Goldenthal, producer Jean Doumanian, the Balabans again, director Stephen Daldry, etc. It was such a warm get together that the guests hung in there from eight til midnight. That’s when Kavanagh surprised everyone except his parents and exuberantly belted out ‘ quite professionally ‘ two numbers with the rock combo that had been playing all night ‘ doing credible homages to Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Rascals.

Peggy Siegal, who put the whole “Nine” day together, told me not to forget Patrick Pacheco’s quip about the whole thing: “No one’s ever seen so much foreplay before screening a movie.” So true; “Nine” premieres tonight to the best-fed crowd in movie history. The truth is: they would have liked it anyway.

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