Garland Oscar drama goes on

GOOD MORNING: Judy, Judy, Judy. When will it ever end? I discovered a new problem with the sale of Judy Garland’s 1958 Oscar — the one that replaced her lost Oscar of 1940. Although the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent Sid Luft and memorabilia Web site seller Nate Sanders from peddling Judy Garland’s Oscar — for $3 million — and set a June 23 hearing for a preliminary injunction, Luft tells me he is totally innocent. He doesn’t have the replacement Oscar or the original — and Luft tells me he never offered it to Sanders for sale on the latter’s memorabilia Web site! Furthermore, Luft says he never even talked to Sanders about an Oscar that he does not have — but more on that later. When I reached Sanders late Monday, he claimed “I can’t talk about it” (because of the Acad’s lawsuit). But I asked him how he could put the Oscar up for sale on his Web site when Luft said he’d never spoken to him. Sanders became even more reticent — but did admit to me, “It was some sort of misunderstanding” … Luft admitted he had indeed tried to sell Judy’s (replacement) Oscar but that was through Christie’s and in 1993 and the Acad obtained a court order preventing him from selling it to anyone — except back to the Acad for $10. Luft gave it to daughter Lorna, with Sid explaining to me, “Liza already had her own Oscar.” And when I called Lorna she confirmed that Luft had given Judy’s replacement Oscar to her. It now resides in a bank vault where it will continue to stay until, Lorna said, “I hand it down to one of my children.” And Lorna had indeed seen the Sanders’ Web site offering Judy’s Oscar for sale by Sid. She, too, wondered “what Oscar?” So where is the original Judy Garland Oscar, the one awarded her in 1940? No one seems to know — or wants to tell. Luft tells me he believes Judy had thrown it in a rage and the broken pieces were picked up by a servant. I asked Luft what happened to all the other Garland memorabilia, some pieces of which have been seen on the auction circuits. He claims much of it disappeared after his split-up with Judy. However, he said he’d given many trophies to the Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn., which even bought her original home and moved it to their site. “They’re raising millions to also build a children’s museum,” he told me … The Academy maintains its court-protected vigilance on the sale of Oscars, which sadly have fallen into hands of dealers. Recently, industry leaders have stepped in to return auctioned Oscars to the Acad: f’rinstance, Steven Spielberg anonymously purchased the auctioned Clark Gable “It Happened One Night” best actor award for $607,500 and presented it to the Academy’s foundation and Lew Wasserman donated $55,000 to help buy the 1946 special Oscar awarded Harold Russell for “Best Years of Our Lives.” A 1994 Federal Ninth Court of Appeals has further reinforced the Acad’s ruling that recipients may not sell their Oscars — to anyone other than the Acad (for $10) or — to donate it to a family member … Luft says he was satisfied with his donation to Lorna and so is she. And now Sid has, finally, decided to write his book on Judy. “It’s time the truth be known (about her death),” he said. “I have a very definite opinion of what happened to her.” He doesn’t think it was an accidental overdose. He’s getting ready to tell all to writer Lee Montgomery who will work with him.

BUT THE SCRIPT WRITING’S COMPLETED for “Me And My Shadow,” ABC’s TVersion of Lorna Luft’s book to star Judy Davis as Garland. Filming starts next month in Toronto with Lorna as exec producer and the successful TV team of Craig Adan and Neil Meron producing. Lorna tells me Sid will indeed be one of the characters to be cast, well as Vincente Minnelli and, of course, Liza and Lorna. Robert Allen Ackerman directs; coincidentally he directed Lorna in “Extremities.” The telepic will cover Judy from the ’30s to her demise. Lorna assures it will be “a loving story of a mother and a daughter. I can understand her weaknesses and her frailties. “But,” she admits, “it has taken a long long time (for me to understand) . It’s all extremely sad — she ended up with nothing. She was a decent human being.” Lorna has hired attorney Jeffrey Berkowitz to try to stop the sale of Garland’s narrative tapes, which she made in preparation for her autobiography. They can be found in some stores in West Hollywood. It has some “very heavy stuff,” says Lorna. “You have to realize what caused her negative times.” Meanwhile the family drama continues — Lorna and Liza have not spoken to each other in over a year. Nor does Lorna speak to her father, Sid Luft. Somewhere, over the rainbow …

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Pat and Larry Gelbart will be great-grandparents in September when grandson Sasha and Suzanne Gelbart welcome their first. Larry’s already completed writing 10 of 26, five-min. political satirical vignettes for Bob Cooper’s Internet production arm, EzFlix out of his Landscape Entertainment … And following in his dad’s footsteps, Gil Cates Jr. was elected to the DGA Directors Council — he’s the youngest of 16 vet members. His feature, “Spent,” bows in L.A. and N.Y., July 21 from Regent Entertainment … Producer Andy Licht and wife, Lisa, senior VP of Licensing and Merchandising at 20th-Fox, welcomed their third child, son Joey, May 17 at Cedars-Sinai. Andy’s readying “Ain’t Nobody Like the One I Got,” an urban comedy for MGM … And Brad Krevoy and wife Susie welcomed their third daughter, Alexandra Maya K, May 24 … One final movie memorabilia note: June 22, filmmaker and artist Stephen Verona, auctions 240 of his original drawings from his award-winning 1966 first animated Beatles video, “She Said So” for their hitune “I Feel Fine.”

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