Downey subject of Thanksgiving thoughts

GOOD MORNING: “Shame on me! I’m angry at myself for not having invited him (Robert Downey Jr.) to my house for Thanksgiving,” Jami Gertz told me. Gertz (Mrs. Tony Ressler and mother of three young boys) originally co-starred with Downey in the feature “Less Than Zero” in 1987 and has recently guestarrred in four segs of “Ally McBeal” with Downey — who reported back to work in the series Tuesday. Ironically, in “Less Than Zero,” Downey played a drug addict and in the final portion of the film was forced into male whoring to pay his drug debts. And the film’s finale also depicted his physical deterioration. During that difficult filming, Gertz said Downey was always “kind and gracious.” And while working with him on “Ally McBeal” he openly talked to her about his experience in prison. “He was really trying to get well,” Gertz said. “Now we all need to get together to help him. I know I will do anything, whatever he wants, to help.” Next week is Gertz’s final appearance on the show in which she and John Cage (thesp Peter MacNicol) finally break up — when she can’t go on a date with him — without the accompaniment of her mother, played by Marlo Thomas, “who was the original ‘Ally McBeal,’ ” Gertz adds. Jami also completed two indie pix, “Seven Girlfriends” with Tim Daly and “Kat and Allison” in which she plays — a heroin addict. Gertz is also heavily involved with Page Adler for a new Painted Turtle Camp, which is affiliated with Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp serving more than 25,000 children worldwide. Newman’s Own Foods products with pal-partner A.E. Hotchner again makes this holiday season bright for so many with their generous contributions, which have passed the $100 million mark.

EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE, all around the town: Ray Stark is chartering a bus, Thursday a.m. to bring Westside L.A. friends to 1916 E. First St., an L.A. neighborhood in which 82 young people have been killed in gang-related warfare over the years. The address is the new Fran Stark Building, which will house the expanded headquarters of Jobs for a Future & Homeboy Industries. The building was rebuilt through contributions by the Fran and Ray Stark Foundation. And among those attending the dedication are Kirk and Anne Douglas (she created the Anne Douglas Center at the L.A. Mission for homeless women and those with drug problems), David Geffen, Betsy Bloomingdale, Nancy and Mayor Richard Riordan and Father Gregory Boyle S.J. who founded the Jobs for a Future Program. The program targets men and women of the East L.A. community who want to work — “to encourage entrepreneurship,” Ray told me. Among the self-sustaining industries that were created are the Homeboy Bakery, Homeboy Silk Screen, etc. Stark gave Rev. Boyle the idea for the bakery, and promising workers in the bakery (all ex-felons!) were “graduated” by Stark and Marykay Powell, the president of Rastar, to work on pix/TV, some of whom became second a.d’s. Stark and Powell, meanwhile, continue to prepare several features, the long-planned “Houdini” which has Ang Lee set to direct at Col and “Benjamin Button” to be directed by Spike Jonze at Par. And remakes of “The Professionals” at Col and “Night of the Iguana” independently … Meanwhile in BevHills Tuesday, Global Crossing moved into its coast h.q. in the building once known as MCA on Crescent Dr. Among those invited to the housewarming by Global Crossing’s CEO Gary Winnick were Edie and Lew Wasserman and daughter Lynne, and relatives of Paul Williams, who designed the landmark building, which MCA’s Jules Stein had built in 1935. MCA sold it to Lytton in the mid-’60s when it moved to Universal City.

ABSENTEES IN D.C.: Walter Cronkite may not be able to m.c. the Kennedy Center Honors Sunday. He underwent Achilles heel surgery recently. And, Peter Shaw, although recuped from surgery, will not be able to accompany honoree Angela Lansbury to the awards. But attending with her will be their son Anthony Shaw and wife Lee and their three children, Peter, Katherina and Ian. President Clinton and Sen.-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton will be on hand for the Sunday night show and will also host the honorees and guests to the traditional White House reception before the Kennedy Center. There are always seats in the presidential box for the vice president, but show producers George Stevens Jr. and Don Mischer say they haven’t yet received confirmation of the Gores’ attendance. Despite all this busy-ness in D.C., Stevens and Mischer also asked me about the ongoing Robert Downey Jr. drama in L.A … The Society of Singers, whose logo is “It’s time that rare bird called a singer had some tender loving care,” hosts a thank you evening at the Gig Monday. Some of the “rare birds” who have been helped by the org will perform standards, jazz, R&B, rock and gospel. Monica Mancini, daughter of SOS founder Ginny Mancini, will headline. Proceeds, of course, benefit SOS … And the Holiday Jam, Dec. 9 at Every Picture Tells a Story will feature Jamie Curtis reading-signing her fifth children’s book, “Where Do Balloons Go,” illustrated by Laura Cornell — plus songs by Perla Batalla … Buddy Hackett, Richard Horner and Lynne Stuart get their stars on Palm Springs’ Walk of Stars Dec. 8.

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