Berle missing from TV museum bow

GOOD MORNING: First, the good news: The opening party of the Museum of Television & Radio in Beverly Hills was elegant. The city, proud of its newest and brightest addition, cooperated with museum moguls in shutting down part of Beverly Drive, the police re-routed traffic on Little Santa Monica, the enormous tent and tables for over 1,000 guests boasted the most gorgeous floral arrangements, the dinner courses were juggled between segments of the presentations, and the guests were all of the most creative and most instrumental in making the museum a reality. Well, almost all. Now for the bad news: when you think of TV, you think of “Mr. Television”– Milton Berle (88). Well, he wasn’t at the TV/radio party. “Didn’t you get an invite?” I asked Berle on Monday. “I didn’t.” “Didn’t you get a phone call?” “Not until late Friday from (museum president) Robert Batscha. I tried to call him back and there was no answer.” “But there was so much about the museum in the newspapers, howcum you didn’t call them?” “I should call them? Shouldn’t they have called me? I started it (the Museum) in N.Y. and gave them all my tapes and kinnies. I never got an invitation. It’s very embarrassing.” Batscha insisted the Museum staff had tried to contact him several times. Berle — who, as we all know, is easy to contact, anytime, any place (the Friars, Nate ‘n Al’s) — insists no one from the Museum ever invited him. Monday, Berle said he had gotten other calls from pals in the biz wondering why he was not there. Johnny Carson, also missing from the gala party, had been given a private, escorted tour of the museum during construction. Carson decided to continue his out-of-the-limelight life, avoiding large functions. I reached Bob Hope, another TV giant who was absent from the museum festivities, in Palm Springs Monday afternoon, as he returned home from playing golf. He said he’d been invited to the opening but was giving a dinner party at his home in the desert Sunday. But yes, he’d been invited. How about special evenings to recognize this terrif trio of TV talent during the upcoming year? The events could raise more money for the museum, as well!

BILL CLINTON WAS QUICK to quip when his satellited goodwill greeting from the White House library, to open the museum party, suffered technical transmission problems — ah yes, the more things change, the more they remain the same, n’est-ce pas? It was demonstrated perfectly with the screening of vintage early TV commercial bloopers … Frank A. Bennack Jr., museum chairman, and Robert M. Batscha intro’d the celebs, who in turn led into film clips illustrating the power, humor, entertainment of TV. Looking out at the heavy showbiz group, Batscha noted, “10% of any deals made here tonight go to the museum”… In a tribute to architect Richard Meier’s clean museum design, Batscha added, “Would that our medium were as pure.” Among those introducing classic clips were the teams of Carol Burnett and Norman Lear, sports; Rick Dees and John Lithgow, commercials; Tracey Ullman and Dick Van Dyke, interview shows; Jimmy Smits and Julianna Margulies, family pairings — followed by the appearances of second-generation stars Alan Alda, Candice Bergen and Marlo Thomas, all museum trustees … Reminiscences ran high all night, before and after the clips — which are only a tip of the iceberg of what the museum holds in its treasured, computerized vaults. At my table, Louis Nye was recalling shows with Steve Allen (at the next table); Red Buttons remembered the many all-star variety shows plus his own series; Nancy Olson reminded me of her early “Playhouse 90,” “Royal Family” with Claudette Colbert, Fredric March, Shelley Winters — for director John Frankenheimer, who was seated a few tables away. Also at our table, Shirley Mitchell and husband Jay Livingston; she was a regular on Jack Benny’s radio and TV shows, as well as “I Love Lucy”… It was a great night of remembrances and a night to remember. And a reminder to that other industry in Hollywood — the movies — what a disgrace that there is no equally magnificent tribute to the bigscreen — of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

CHRISTOPHER REEVE AND KEITH ADDIS, personal manager, will receive the American Oceans Campaign Partners Award, Ted Danson told me Monday. He’s the founder and tireless worker for the environmentally conscious organization. He spoke several times to Reeve, “who is incredibly inspiring,” and who will be here to accept his award April 30 at the BevWilshire. Outdoor Life Network underwrites the evening and award. “It’s an honor to be around him (Reeve),” said Danson. “And Keith is a major AOC supporter/worker.” For his TV series future with wife Mary Steenburgen, Danson allows of the half-hour CBS sitcom, “We’ve made the deal — now the creation has to start.” Why is he doing another series? “I’m interested in being home for dinner with my family”… Mel Gibson’s in L.A. recuping from his appendectomy and will attend the Oscars, then return to “Ransom” in N.Y., where director Ron Howard says highly physical scenes remain for Gibson.

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