Reiner recreates White House ambiance

GOOD MORNING: Thank you, Bill Clinton. As Rob Reiner starts directing “The American President” this week, the producer-director tells me, “I met with the president a number of times and he was kind enough to let me follow him around a couple of days. And every time I went there (the White House) I got more and more excited about this picture. And I felt more of a responsibility.” Reiner was not only shown the Oval Office, but also was taken upstairs to check out the private quarters. They’ve all been reproduced for the movie on stages at Sony and Culver Studios. Howcum they’re not using the great White House sets built for WB’s “Dave”? “They’ve been used so much (by others),” said Reiner, “they’re now dilapidated.” As I reported earlier, Michael Douglas, who plays the widower-president, also was given a tour of the White House by President Clinton when Michael was in D.C. for papa Kirk’s Kennedy Center Honors weekend — and Michael’s “Disclosure” D.C. doings. In Reiner’s pic, Annette Bening is an environmental lobbyist and Reiner says politix definitely plays a major part in the movie. And that, says Reiner, was a major difference between him and Robert Redford, who developed the pic for 10 years — and who was to star. “It was a classic case of creative differences,” Reiner admits. “He wanted it to be more of a romance and not so much politics.” However, there will be plenty of romance in this version, assures Reiner, who says he regularly sends Redford script changes. While Redford remains titled as a producer, along with Reiner, Redford is busy now on his next starrer, “Up Close & Personal” with Michele Pfeiffer … In “American President,” Douglas has a 12-year-old daughter, played by Shawna Waldron. She’s no Chelsea Clinton — but the youngster plays — the trombone. And there’ll be a kiddie playpen area, sandbox, etc., on the sets — for Annette’s (and Warren Beatty’s) two children, as well as Reiner’s two youngsters.

REMEMBER THE GREAT PHOTO of all the MGM stars surrounding L.B. Mayer back in ’43 on the studio’s 20th anniversary? Well, Vanity Fair is assembling all the stars (they can) from the halcyon era for a giant sitting as part of the mag’s April issue, entirely tributing the 100th anni of movies. Invites are going out and RSVPs are already in from many stars. They include: Gene Autry, Ernest Borgnine, Lloyd Bridges, Karl Malden, Roddy McDowall, Max Schell, Robert Stack, Nancy Olson, Red Buttons, Rod Taylor, Anne Francis, Shirley Knight, Jane Powell, Celeste Holm, Jane Withers, Jane Wyatt, Eva Marie Saint, Maureen O’Sullivan, Gloria DeHaven, Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, George Burns, Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford, Charlton Heston, Esther Williams, Bob Hope, Tab Hunter, Jack Lemmon, Jason Robards, June Allyson, Cyd Charisse, Tony Martin, Doris Day, Carol Channing, Frank Sinatra and — Marlon Brando. All of Hollywood will be represented in features throughout the issue … There’s no love lost between George Sidney and the Palm Springs Film Festival. He had been invited to be an honoree last Friday but told ’em two weeks earlier he wasn’t going to accept — following foul-ups in arrangements he says he made for ’em. “I have all the conversations on tape,” says Sidney. The fest claims an error with dates they made at the McCallum Theater was the cause … On a happier note, Oscar-winning songwriters Ray Evans and Jay Livingston were surrounded by pals at Trader Vic’s after their Walk of Fame star ceremonies on Hollywood Boulevard. The musical group included Mike Stoller and Corky Hale, Hal David, Rod McKuen, Milton De Lugg, Dick Hazzard, Betty Rose, Lina Romay, Miriam Nelson, Vic Mizzy, Paul Weston and Jo Stafford, Alan Livingston and Nancy Olson, and Red Buttons, who said of Livingston and Evans: “We know about their hits, but what about some of their flops: ‘Dancing Nose to Nose,’ ‘It Had to Be Me,’ ‘I’m Dreaming of a Black New Year’s’ and ‘In Your Passover Bonnet With Matzo Balls Upon It’?”

PETER GUBER STARTS the new year with a new title at UCLA, where he’s been teaching film and TV for almost 25 years. He’s now the Bruins’ first “studio professor.” He’s toasted on campus Tuesday at the Faculty Center … Ben Kingsley gets the frequent-flier award this week as he winged in from London for TNT’s “Joseph,” Oscar-pubbing “Death and the Maiden,” then on to Bombay’s fest to intro “Maiden” as well as “Schindler’s List” as the fest closer, and then Kingsley long-hops back to London … Add a second screening of “Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story,” Jan. 23 at the Cineplex Odeon Century City to benefit GLAAD and Lambda, both to be hosted in person by Barbra Streisand and Cammermeyer. The docudrama about the lesbian military officer airs Feb. 6 on NBC.

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