NPR preps welcome to millennium

GOOD MORNING: The new millennium is almost here, and so, here is a preview of “Memos to a New Millennium” which will air, starting 11:30 p.m. New Year’s Eve, on National Public Radio. It is written and directed by Norman Corwin with music by Elmer Bernstein and starring Walter Cronkite: “We now become creatures of millennium three. And the first thing on the agenda, after a good night’s sleep, will be to go about living in that millennium, equipping it, shaping it, deciding what to do with it. Given this commission, we have incentive to ask questions, write legible prescriptions, set goals and draft memos. A fair start might be to ask a few people old enough to know what a millennium is, and who care about such matters, what they would wish for between now and millennium four.” The multi-honored Corwin is 89 — and going strong. The show reunites Cronkite and Corwin for the first time since he delivered Corwin’s “Network at Fifty” at the end of the week-long 50th anni celebration of CBS in the ’70s. It also reunites Corwin and Bernstein after an even longer period — the latter composed and conducted a score for one of the Columbia Presents Corwin series, 50 years ago. Supporting Corwin in the cast are Richard Dysart, Mala Powers, Elliot Reid, Louis Nye, Steve Franklin, Phil Proctor, Alice Baackes and Orson Ossman … Wished for in the new millennium are peace, a clean environment and shelter. Principals from the past depicted in the (audio) show include Thomas Edison, who believed “the radio craze would die out in time,” Henry Ford, who in 1928 said, “People are becoming too intelligent ever to have another big war.” And Daryl Zanuck, in 1946: “Video won’t be able to hold on to any market after six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” Plus a prediction by Nostradamus. You must stay tuned … The year 2000 also marks Oscar-winner Bernstein’s 50th anni since writing his first film score, “Saturday’s Hero” starring John Derek and Donna Reed and directed by David Miller. And a first for Bernstein, he’s written a concerto for guitar and orchestra for renowned Christopher Parkening that bows Sept. 9 with the Honolulu Symph in Honolulu. Bernstein’s score for “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” debuts Aug. 21 on HBO.

ALESSON WORTH LEARNING: With the L.A. Dodgers flirting with the cellar of the National League West, I wondered how Hall of Famer Vin Scully, the voice of the Dodgers (and baseball!), was feeling these depressing days. Vinnie said, “I take one day at a time when it’s a tough season. Just go — and enjoy the game — if you love the game. And I’ve been blessed, I love it.” In case you worried, Vinnie has (at least) two more years to go on his pact. He sees no signs of the News Corp. striking off the Dodgers from their collection, even though “we’re just one ornament on their tree.” But he admits ignorance about front office goings-on: “I’m better off just going to the ballpark everyday, going to the dressing room, the dugout and then to my booth.” And helping to keep the Dodgers alive in the hearts of all who love the game … Jerry Lewis lost 15 pounds during his siege with viral meningitis in Australia. He returned home to Vegas last week, is resting a few more days on his boat in San Diego and comes to L.A. Friday to start work on the 49th Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day telethon, starting to air on Channels 9 in both L.A. and N.Y., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., respectively, Sept. 5 … Ratings on the second night of the Regis Philbin-hosted “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” surpassed the opener. Reege noted, “I can’t believe how easy this is.” But next week, he’ll be doing both his 9 ayem ABC talker as well as the 7 p.m. ABC gameshow … Richard Simmons’ “Dream Maker” crews have already been banking segs for the Sept. 20 debut, syndie’d by Tribune. Local sites and civilians have already been surprised by the arrival of “Dream” crews — one showed up at Little Joe’s celeb barber shop in BevHills and announced, “All haircuts are on us.” Among those interviewed was BevHills attorney Richard Rosenblum as stylist Genevieve cut up for the cameras. Would-be contestants have flooded fone lines for “Dream Maker” just as they have for “Millionaire.” Simmons told me his Web site(s) have been bombarded by requests from those who want dreams fulfilled. Among those dreams to be filled: a nun who wanted to meet the Pope. She will. Simmons said the thrust of the show “is for a kindlier, gentler world.” Good timing.

LORNE MICHAELS GETS HIS STAR on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today — between Caruso and Art Carney … Joe Sutton’s “The Heart of Hollywood” talker (7-8 p.m., Monday-Friday) bows Sept. 7 on KIEV … The BevHills High school’s famous gym — the one whose floor opens up to reveal a swimming pool as used by Frank Capra in “It’s A Wonderful Life” — is also the location for a scene in DreamWorks’ untitled Cameron Crowe feature starring Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee, Anna Paquin, Fairuza Balk, Noah Taylor and newcomer Patrick Fugit … Maximilian Schell is honored as the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Method First indie film fest, Aug. 20-26 at the State Theatre in Pasadena. Cathleen Leslie makes the presentation to Schell, closing night … Kordee Polonek, celebrating her 55th anni at 20th-Fox, was saluted by the lot — they hung a banner in honor at the entrance to the studio.

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