Vidpic to shoot back at NRA

GOOD MORNING: On the heels of this week’s announcement by President Clinton banning the importation of assault weapons, comes a report that “The Incident on Long Island” will pull no punches. The NBC vidpic attacks the NRA and what the show calls the NRA’s “fraudulent” claims of gun protection under the Second Amendment. Charlton Heston (who has an NRA “leadership position”) loudly proclaims these assertions in his column in Guns & Ammo and in an NRA ad in the current Popular Mechanics in which he demands, “Why don’t you demand the Second Amendment be taught at your kid’s school? Fight back.” The NBC telefilm is being switched into the sweeps, May 3. It is a Barwood production, exec produced by Barbra Streisand and Cis Corman and Jordan Davis, and directed by Joe Sargent. It is the story of Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D.-N.Y.) and tells her story “from housewife to gun-control advocate to congresswoman.” Streisand’s Barwood became involved in TV only to be able to produce important subjects, like this, that would not make it to the bigscreen. The “incident” was the murder of six and the injuring of 19 others on Dec. 7, 1993, on the Long Island Commuter train. One of those killed was McCarthy’s husband, Dennis, while their son Kevin was critically wounded. Laurie Metcalf plays McCarthy. The script by Maria Nation calls the NRA by name repeatedly. Sargent, now in final post on the TriStar-NBC telepic, tells me the script explains how the NRA errs in its claims of protection for the Second Amendment. A lobbyist in the MOW states, “Did you know that former Chief Justice Burger called the NRA’s misrepresentation of the Second Amendment one of the greatest pieces of fraud on the American public by special interest groups that he’d ever seen — the Second Amendment has never been about the right of an individual to bear arms! It’s about the right to arm a militia. A well-regulated militia.” Sargent also says the show “names names of Congressman who tried to avoid the issue — and Congressmen (like Dan Frisa) who received funding from the NRA.” And Bob Dole, who led the fight to repeal the ban on semi-automatic assault weapons which allowed 19 brands of assault weapons to once again be legally sold. Sargent says Streisand “went out of her way” to get this idea pitched to NBC with Corman. Rick Rosenberg and Bob Christiansen produce. Before the “incident,” Congresswoman McCarthy was a Republican, by the way. Ironically, two days before Sargent started to direct the film, he reports, “My cousin got hold of a gun and blew his brains out.” The director will have two shows airing during sweeps: the other is “The Wall” about the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in D.C. and the mementos left there; it airs on Showtime May 24. He is again talking to Showtime to film a story about pleas for peace in Ireland. … As for “Incident,” he says, “We hope a little of this common sense will rub off.” Many in the biz are hoping it will and are committed to the end of violence via their Committee to End Violence, headed by Sy Gomberg, Lloyd Bochner and Allen Manning, who are joined by 197 creative members of the biz in a pledge to cut down gratuitous, excessive and unpunished violence.

ON THE DISTINCTLY HAPPIER side of the ledger was “Encore,” the program Saturday that marked the reopening of Royce Hall on the UCLA campus, which had been closed due to earthquake damage. Mayor Riordan (who paid tribute to former Getty Center director Harold Williams), saluted John Lithgow’s overtly theatrical intro to the reborn theater, by saying, “I would like to thank John Lithgow for his imitation of James Cameron.” Carol Burnett, after doing her famous Tarzan yell to test the new (great) acoustics, said “Who the hell needs carpets?” (The new Royce Hall floors are wooden rather than carpeted for better acoustics.) Burnett made her tribute to honoree Ginny Mancini. Jamaal Wilkes, in his salute to honoree John Wooden, “the Wizard of Westwood,” noted “Wooden defined success: he simply represents the best in America.” Frank Biondi and Jack Valenti paid tribute to former MCA topper Lew Wasserman, with Biondi saying, “Nobody replaces Lew Wasserman. How can you do justice to a giant of a man?”

ALL IN THE FAMILY: 20th’s Tom Sherak and wife Madeleine joined grandparents ranks with the birth of Geordan Daniel Neinstein April 2 at Santa Monica-UCLA hospital. Father is Paul Neinstein, of business and legal affairs for DreamWorks, and mother is Barbra Sherak Neinstein, an attorney. … Joining the grandpa brigade is Lalo Schifrin, whose son Will and wife Lissa Kapstrom, both writers, welcomed their first, son Dylan Alexander S. April 2 at Cedars-Sinai. … And Brian Lowry, Daily Variety alumnus and L.A. Times TV reporter, and Joanna Massey, PR director for LMNO Prods., are planning to be wed. … Oliver Hudson, handsome 21-year-old son of Goldie Hawn and Bill Hudson, makes his feature debut playing the son of Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn in Par’s remake of “The Out-of-Towners.” He’s repped by Writers & Artists’ Todd Eisner, no relation to Michael.

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