Donaldson investigation pays off

GOOD MORNING: Sam Donaldson received a phone call Friday morning from the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier. The latter had just gotten word from Dr. Streim of Germany’s Center of the Federal Prosecutors of Nazi War Crimes saying that as a result of the Center’s and Donaldson’s investigative work, a prosecutor will be appointed in Dortmund to look into the Erich Preibke case. On the May 5 ABC “PrimeTime Live,” Donaldson, in one of his hardest-hitting stories, tracked down Preibke 1,000 miles south of Buenos Aires in the town of Bariloche — which looks like it dropped out of Bavaria, complete with a population of ex-(?)Germans. “It’s a piece that matters,” Donaldson told me Friday. He credits his producer Harry Phillips and the Wiesenthal Center for getting the story to the air. But Rabbi Hier in turn credits Donaldson, who “really outdid himself” with his bulldog tenacity in finding suspected ex-SS killer Preibke from a lead given him (by the Center) to a Reinhard Kops in Buenos Aires. The story reads like a movie whodunit with the Center’s Rick Easton posing as an American industrialist among German Neo-Nazis to locate Nazi fugitives. Donaldson says, “I want to see all of those birds tried.” He may go back to continue the story. “I was surprised,” Donaldson told me, “that they both (Preibke and Kops) stood there (with cameras rolling) and talked (freely). They felt safe after so many years!” Donaldson says the genesis for his investigation was Argentina opening its secret files. And now the government is willing to extradite suspects. The crimes (killings) date back to 1940 — from Berlin to Rome, Rabbi Hier told me … Thursday the Wiesenthal Center honors Emilie Schindler and Miep Gies. Schindler risked her own life, working with her husband Oskar caring for 1,200 Jews. And Gies is the last survivor of those who hid and cared for Anne Frank and her family. They receive the Center’s highest honor, the Righteous Among the Nations Award. Zlata Filipovic receives the Child of Courage award for making the plight of her people in the former Yugoslavia known through her diary … Branko Lustig , one of “Schindler’s List’s” Oscar-winning producers (with Steven Spielberg and Gerald Molen) presents the Jewish National Fund award to King Simoen II of Bulgaria for his late father King Boris II’s for his acts of heroism in WWII saving 50,000 Jews in Bulgaria.

A COLLECTOR’S ITEM: That’s the description of the original London company’s recorded album of “Sunset Boulevard.” The definitive, revised version by Andrew Lloyd Webber with the L.A. company is being recorded here this week. The locals will continue on to B’way and the new company headed by Faye Dunaway will include Rex Smith in the Joe Gillis role (Alan Campbell goes East with Glenn Close). Webber saw the troupe here and was happy, took ’em all to dinner at Harper’s in Century City where he introduced ’em to his horse-racing card game “They’re Off!” and then he took off for the Kentucky Derby … Vincent Canby, alumnus of Variety and now covering theater on Sundays for the N.Y. Times after 24 years as film critic, will be repped by his one-act play “After All” here at the MET Theater during the seven-week (May 20-July 10) Showtime Networks Inc.’s “Act One Festival of New One-Act Plays.” Canby’s was one of the 15 accepted from more than 2,000 submissions. John Randolph and Katherine Helmond will star in his one-act’er — he’s previously written two full-length plays and is now working on his third novel. He prefers covering theater to films … Emmy-winning production designer Roy Christopher, who designed this year’s Oscarcast, will do the Tonys for the second year in a row. The June 12 CBS show exec produced by Gary Smith is themed, “Theater: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” That should cover the plethora of revivals, the new shows and the seg from B’way-bound “Sunset Boulevard.”

CHER STARS IN “FAITHFUL” by Chazz Palminteri, who also co-stars, along with Ryan O’Neal in the Savoy/Tribeca feature directed by Paul Mazursky who plays the movie’s shrink … Arnold Schwarzenegger hosted Mayor Riordan on the “Junior” set at the Biltmore where the “expectant” Arnold was glowingly dancing with Emma Thompson to “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” sung by Cassandra Wilson … Barbara Taylor Bradford and husband Robert celebrate their 30th anni May 12 by repeating their vows in Antigua. Her new novel, “Everything You Gain” (Harper/Collins), first of her three-book, $ 30 million pact, hits the stalls with a 600,000 first printing in July … The Synagogue for the Performing Arts honored Cantor Judy Fox Sunday at the BevWilshire … Whoopi Goldberg’s the recipient of the Hope Through Empowerment Award from St. Joseph’s Center, Saturday at the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey.

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