GOOD MORNING: The evil that men do lives after them while the good is oft interred with their Oscar nominations. Despite the fact “The Insider” received seven Oscar noms but disappointing box office, the memory of the maladies caused by the tobacco industry lingers on. And the evil will surface again — on film. Whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand (played in the pic by Oscar-nominated Russell Crowe) will be talking freely now that the gag order placed against him (in the film as well) has been settled by the $206 billion awarded the 50 states. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is readying “Secrets Through the Smoke,” a feature documentary that will star Wigand, who “will tell all,” I am told by the film’s makers, producer Chris Coronado and his Siesta Films partner and director Jeremy London. The latter makes his directorial bow, having starred in “Party of Five” among his list of acting credits. It’s a labor of love for all — particularly for London who tells me his grandparents, heavy smokers, died of emphysema/cancer. He admits he’s trying desperately to get his father to quit; London even observed his father smoking a cigarette during our phone conversation. Coronado says Wigand will divulge what has happened to the settlement money. It has been diverted to “fix potholes, build bridges — and not for what it was intended: education (on the dangers of tobacco) and to health organizations.” The filmmakers tell me that Lowell Bergman, another principal in “Insider” (played by Al Pacino), has agreed to help the docu, which will be distributed to 10,000 schools to educate children on the content of cigarettes and the dangers of tobacco. It will also be distributed to 1,000 “legislative parties.” The film will include appearances by Rosie O’Donnell and Christy Turlington and will be hosted by Giselle Fernandez. London, who has directed some musicvids, says he will use music (Eagle Eye Cherry) to keep the youthful audience interest. “We are trying to make a difference,” he says, “and we also hope this will drum up more attention to a wonderful movie.”
FIRST, THE BAD NEWS: I was saddened to learn that an old friend, Art Buchwald (74), has suffered a stroke and is in Georgetown U. hospital in D.C. He was discovered at home by his son Joel, who tells me it will be “a long, long haul” for his father’s recovery. Reruns of Buchwald’s columns will appear … A memorial service will be held for Paul Bartel today at 10:30 a.m. in the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center … Vic Damone is hospitalized in Philly after suffering discomfort on the eve his bow (Monday) at the Hilton in Atlantic City. His next date is July 21 at Milwaukee’s Festa Italiana and it is, of course, hoped he will be OK by then … On the happy side of the ledger, Norman Lloyd and wife Peggy celebrate their 64th wedding anni Thursday. Lloyd, who made his film debut more than 55 years ago in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Saboteur” and has worked in classics with other top directors including Jean Renoir, Lewis Milestone and Charlie Chaplin, is negotiating his return for a third season on “Seven Days” … Talking film classics, UCLA’s classic Film & Television Archives Festival of Preservation (July 28-Aug. 26 ) includes screenings of “How Green was My Valley,” “The Informer,” “Force of Evil,” “The Smiling Lieutenant,” “Bullfighter and the Lady” and dozens of other examples of classy cinema … Larry Turman, chair of the Peter Stark Producing Program of USC’s School of Cinema & TV, notes that “Shanghai Noon,” was written by Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, two grads of the Stark Program; it was sold by another grad, William Morris agent Gregory McKnight, and bought by and co-produced by yet another Stark attendee, Jonathan Glickman. Turman, notes, “I am a proud godfather indeed” … James Ivory is honored with a three-day retro and will give a master class at the Savannah Film Fest, Oct. 28-Nov. 3. Eva Marie Saint will also give a master class and honored with a screening of “On the Waterfront” for which she won an Oscar … Jeanette MacDonald’s fan club celebrates its 63rd anni with a convention in Hollywood this weekend. Lynette Bennett sings “an affectionate tribute” to her tonight at the Cinegrill.
NOT IN THE SCRIPT — BUT IT WAS. Fifteen years ago Oscar-winning (“Shakespeare In Love”) screenwriter Marc Norman wrote “Herzog,” in which a rebel begins a coup, with the military sitting idly by and waiting for things to get so bad that the general is “forced” to take over the country by himself. Fade out: That’s what happened while the Normans were vacationing in Fiji and had to wait days to make a safe exit. Now happily at home, Norman’s got another piece of history in script at Universal. It’s “The Good Sailor” about the U.S.S. Indianapolis, sunk by the Japanese in 1945. Hundreds of the survivors were killed by sharks. The pic is dedicated to Norman’s father-in-law, a Destroyer sailor, who named his daughter (Norman’s wife) Dale after his ship, the U.S.S. Dale … Added second generation: tonight, Carl and Estelle Reiner’s son Lucas, debuts his feature (he wrote and directed), “The Gold Cup,” starring Wood Harris and Sarah Lassez and filmed digitally, at the Lot (Warner Hollywood/Goldwyn) screening for buyers/distribs.