GOOD MORNING, MR. PRESIDENT: While Germany’s Consul General Hans Allard von Rohr was lunching and lauding filmmaker Artur Brauner, honoring the producer’s films (18) about the holocaust, the Simon Wiesenthal Center in L.A. was receiving “an orchestrated” campaign of complaints from Polish communities in the U.S. They objected to Brauer’s latest film, “From Hell to Hell,” the entry from Belarus in the Academy Awards foreign-language film category. (It was a German entry for the Golden Globes, since the pic is a German-Russian co-production: produced by Brauner, directed by Russia’s Dmitri Astrachan.) The film tells the true story of the pogrom in Kielce, Poland, 1946 a brutal event when holocaust survivors, returning to their small Polish town, were murdered by a local mob seething with hatred. The Wiesenthal Center here hosted a screening of the movie Jan. 12 and followed with a preem, Thursday. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Center, said he’d received over 100 protest faxes and phone calls “obviously orchestrated” from the Polish community around the U.S. “There were 20 on my voice mail alone saying they (the callers) considered the showing of the film by the Wiesenthal Center as a hate message against Poland. Of course it is not. It is a historic (and too little known) fact. I think it is a very sensitive film, quite powerful and humanizing. As a matter of fact, it shows a Catholic Pole saving lives. This event and Exodus ’47 were two events which left no doubt about the need for the creation of the Jewish State of Palestine. I give Brauner a lot of credit for making this tough movie.” Rabbi Cooper also said the Museum of Tolerance Theater on May 5 will show a French film by Polish-born holocaust survivor Marek Halter about the righteous Catholics in Poland who helped save 40,000 Jews. The film (as yet untitled) will be shown in the same theater where “Hell to Hell” was shown last week, and where Steven Spielberg preemed his “Schindler’s List.” Rabbi Cooper added, “Sometimes the truth hurts — that’s why you have the Simon Wiesenthal Center.”
THE CALL FROM THE ABBEY of Regina Laudis was from a long-ago, dear friend: Mother Dolores Hart O.S.B. We’d known her as the pretty and talented co-star of Elvis Presley in “Loving You,” “King Creole” and many other movies. Her last pic was “Come Fly With Me” (1963), after which she flew to Bethlehem, Conn., to join the nuns in the Abbey of Benedictine women “dedicated to the praise of God through prayer and work.” Her sweet voice on the phone told me of a CD which the choir of the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey have recorded. It’s “Women in Chant,” Gregorian chants with the voices (35) of the nuns in the Abbey, including Hart’s. Producer Tom Pomposello of N.Y. made it possible to make it professionally perfect the nuns packaged and wrapped the CDs commercially with the aid of computers in the basement of the Abbey. They are marketing it themselves ($20), with orders direct from the Abbey at 273 Flanders Road, Bethlehem, Ct. 06751. One of the first orders was from Don Robinson, to whom Dolores was engaged before deciding to become a nun 34 years ago. (He has never married.) Hart is still a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and says she’s received 280 Oscar-viewing tapes. “I have special permission to watch them,” she adds. “I love the industry. No one should ever think I rejected it; I just found a higher calling. But over the years I always wanted to find a way to respond back with a message of love and appreciation.” The CD is her way. In case you wonder about the order, she says “We wear the old-fashioned habit (wimple, veil, etc.), so you can’t see my grey hairs or lines under my chin,” she laughed. “I’m sending you a photo when I can get someone who will do a three-quarter left profile.” Boy, do we miss her!
WHATTA REUNION on the Paramount lot! Anson Williams and Henry Winkler discovered each other in the commissary of the studio, where both worked on “Happy Days.” Williams today starts directing a seg of “Star Trek: Voyager” and Winkler’s reining a “Clueless” seg. “We screamed across the commissary when we saw each other,” admits Williams. “The memories started flooding back. We’d love to work together again.” Anson said, “Henry is a great actor — I’m not a very good actor!” They’d been in the series from 1973-84. Williams said “Happy Days’ co-star Ron Howard was very helpful to him on “The Cape” seg he directed, giving him advice on filming weightlessness and calling NASA for him. “Ron has never lost his perspective: he’s always a gentleman and totally modest.” Williams has directed a lot of sci-fi/fantasy TV segs, including “Hercules” and “Xena.” He says the “Star Trek” script (by Jerri Taylor) he is directing is”exceptional; I am thrilled to do it.” He’s been offered features to direct, but allows, “It has to be the right one” Jim Brolin taped a “Roseanne” seg Friday. Barbra Streisand was on hand to watch. Brolin resumes editing the feature he directed in Ireland, “Brothers in Arms,” this week. … Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith winged up from the Mexico location of “The Mask of Zorro” Saturday, and continued on to the inauguration in D.C. today; they return to Mexico Tuesday to dine with Mexico’s President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon before Banderas puts on “the mask” Wednesday. … Well-liked press agent Jack Casey died Jan. 16; services will be held today, 1 p.m. at Oakwood Memorial Park in Chatsworth. Casey did units with the greats, including John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn, and never lost his sensahuma about the biz and its “stars.”