Jones says ‘Whoopi’ as comic comes to rescue

GOOD MORNING: Whoopi Goldberg came to the rescue at Quincy Jones’ pre-inaugural Sunday gala from the Lincoln Memorial when a few of the star singers of “We Are the World” could not be found in time–Whoopi wowed the 500, 000 with five minutes of her own material and Clinton and Gore went on early with their speeches–pre-“World” as well. There was enough time to edit the HBO’er before air time, reported Ken Kragen, who co-produced with Greg Sills, David Salzman and Jeff Pollack. Joe Layton staged Quincy’s supercharged emotional event and Bruce Gowers TV-directed. Said Quincy, “I’ve never seen so many great performers come together with so much love and selflessness.” Jack Nicholson, Oprah Winfrey and Time Warner’s Jerry Levin were among the many who wept openly. Quincy made certain credits on the TV show noted it was dedicated to Steve Ross … After the Lincoln memorial and bell-ringing ceremony, many of the principals segued to the Four Seasons where HBO’s Michael Fuchs hosted the screening party … Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, George Stevens Jr. and David Hume Kennerly segued to Germaine’s restaurant to talk the day’s D.C. doings. But the showbiz group was most attentive talking about the day’s Baghdad bombing with Peter Arnett, CNN’s star reporter during the (first) Persian Gulf War. His book will be ready for August publication when he’ll return to CNN … Tonight’s CBS pre-inaugural gala by Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion will boast two songs by Michael Jackson. As already noted, one will be “Heal the World”; the other is “Gone Too Soon ,” which he dedicates to young AIDS victim Ryan White. The song, written by Buz Kohan and Larry Grossman, was originally a part of the Smith/Hemion “Here’s TV Entertainment” spec when the tune was dedicated to gone-too-soon showbiz celebs such as Janis Joplin, Judy Garland, Elvis. As of last night there was no country artist set for tonight’s gala. Kenny Rogers was called back to L.A. to tape 13 segs of “The Real West” for A&E. He and Tricia Yearwood were to have dueted. But all programs are subject to change. One thing will not change–CBS has warned that the two-hour gala must end promptly at 11 p.m. What if Bill Clinton wants to play the sax?

EQUAL TIME? While many Hollywoodians return from D.C. after Wednesday, Lionel Chetwynd wings to Washington to participate in the Jan. 23-24 “A Conservative Summit” at the Mayflower, where he’ll join Jack Kemp, William Bennett, Newt Gingrich, Robert Bork, Casper Weinberger, George Will and Pete Dupont in discussing the direction (and future?) of the conservative movement. Where’s Rush Limbaugh? … George Burns will be 97 tomorrow. I asked Sugarthroat what he plans to do. “I’ll just go someplace and have scrambled eggs,” said Burns. It’ll more likely be champagne and caviar–Barbara and Marvin Davis are toasting George at their home … Frank Sinatra Jr. told me he’d completed the test recording of the title tune for “The Setting Sun” feature, music by Maurice Jarre and–lyrics by Sammy Cahn … And Bob Enders said Cahn’s last set of lyrics are probably those he wrote for the title tune on Enders’ “What Became of Love,” music by Estelle Enders, for their upcoming feature about a lounge singer on a cruise ship. It was scripted by Bob E. and his outstanding UCLA grad student Marie Cartier. (Enders now teaches screenwriting at USC) … So far confirmed for the Acad’s Jan. 28 toast to Oscar-winning femmes: Whoopi Goldberg, Geena Davis, Ginger Rogers, Liza Minnelli, Shirley MacLaine, Anjelica Huston, Kathy Bates, Eva Marie Saint, Eileen Heckart, Marlee Matlin, Anne Bancroft, Celeste Holm, Marilyn Bergman and costume designer Emi Wada. They’ll be lensed by Theo Westenberger. (She took the Clinton photos for Newsweek.)

DONALD O’CONNOR will be installed as the new president of the Professional Dancers Society at Tripps tomorrow. He’ll also preside Feb. 21 at the Century Plaza when Ann Miller and Mickey Rooney receive the society’s Gypsy awards … Chuck Painter, after praising pix in Italy for 27 years, is back in Hollywood. He says it’s all dried up over there … N.Y.-based praiser David Salidor embarks on a management career with singer Camille … No hockey pucks here– but Barbara and Don Rickles were at Nicky Blair’s along with Cookie and Magic Johnson and Sun and Barry Bonds. Also at Blair’s, Cathy Moriarty and Richard Palmer … Madame Wu winged to Shanghai for the celebration of the anni of the 100th birthday of Madame Sun Yat Sen … Jo and Tommy Lasorda host “an old-fashioned Italian family dinner” Feb. 10 at the BevHilton benefiting the Tommy Lasorda Jr. Memorial Fund–and its recreational facility. Larry King M.C.s , Pia Zadora will entertain … Julian Holloway plays Mr. Doolittle in the new Broadway production of “My Fair Lady” starring Richard Chamberlain. Julian’s dad , Stanley Holloway, originated the role with Rex Harrison … Denise Nicholas winged to Detroit to oversee the production of the play she’d written, “Buses,” at the Plowshares.

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