GOOD MORNING: And welcome to the “studio” of the future. Z.com, the new Internet entertainment incubator. With names like co-chairmen Brad Grey, Joe DiNunzio, idealab! founder Bill Gross, Cindy Margolis, Maverick Records’ CEO Guy Oseary, and collaborators including Jerry Bruckheimer and Oliver Stone, the new moviemaker moved to Burbank’s Media Center where they previewed content that the new “studio” will provide to the online world. F’rinstance, Bruckheimer, who is in Hawaii shooting the mammoth “Pearl Harbor,” will produce short adventure films and Oliver Stone will produce six-minute conspiracy features. … Switching back to the past — the 1521 Spanish Conquest of Aztecs in Mexico, “The Other Conquest” (“La Otra Conquista”) preemed in L.A. in advance of its domestic openings this week with exec producer Placido Domingo, son-producer Alvaro Domingo, writer/director Salvador Carrasco and its star Elpidia Carrillo on hand at the Acad gala for the spectacular film. It’s the first venture of the Domingos in feature films (Placido put up the $3 million budget — but it looks like $30 million!) Will the trio team again? If the story’s appropriate, Placido said. Meanwhile, he is busier than usual as new general director of the L.A. Opera. He debuts with “Aida,” which he’ll conduct, but will not sing. He and the Three Tenors are in concert Saturday at the Mandalay Bay in Vegas, their lone performance in the West this year. And he will sing May 22 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion as part of the tribute to outgoing general director of L.A. Opera, Peter Hemmings. Others performing include Richard Bernstein, Gwendolyn Bradley, Rodney Gilfrey, Jennifer Larmore and Carol Vaness.
SHOWBIZ, GOOD CITIZENSHIP AND POLITIX: Leonardo DiCaprio taped added segs for the ABC “Earth Day” (Saturday) special over the weekend. And he’ll sit in on the editing this week. Elizabeth Vargas will host with Chris Cuomo. … Today, Jeff Bridges and his UTAgents Jim Berkus and J.J. Harris host an intimate lunch with Sen. Ted Kennedy at the agency for the End Hunger Network. Also present will be Cybil Shepherd, Bill Pullman, Lisa Paulson of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, and Dr. Larry Brown of the National Center of Hunger and Poverty, the leading expert on hunger in America. The purpose: to promote awareness that 12 million children and their families suffer from hunger — and this in the richest country in the world! Kennedy recently intro’d a bill to restore $2.7 billion (that’s with a “b”) in food stamps and school lunch programs. And Jeff Bridges helped Kennedy introduce the bill last month. … And tonight, the Rob Reiners host a fundraiser for Kennedy at their home. “He’s the best we have in the Senate,” Rob enthuses. Reiner’s also trying to set a date for vice president Al Gore to visit one of the East L.A. schools, a great model of the results of passage of Prop 10 — which Reiner originated and for which he huffed and he puffed until he blew down the tobacco giants. … More than $200,000 was raised for scholarships to the Henry Mancini Institute, Sunday at the Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica, a celebration honoring Hank’s 76th birth date. Betty and Fred Hayman underwrote the evening kicking off the Mancini Institute’s fourth annual Summer Educational Program at UCLA, July 22-Aug. 20. Joe Smith m.c’d with guest performers Hal David, Freda Payne, Corky Hale, Dionne Warwick (subbing for Burt Bacharach, sidelined with his shoulder injury). Each performed Bacharach/David tunes, plus Ginny, Felice and Monica Mancini singing the Mancini/David tune, “Send a Little Love My Way.” Bobbi and Jack Elliott co-chaired with Ginny M. and Donna Arnold and composer-conductor Ray Charles, there as always.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON: Ann Miller, injured in a freak auto accident (luckily no bones were broken, as feared), got an injection in her spine and was able to go on and participate in Turner Classic Movies’ round table on “The Art of Choreography” (in movies) with Cyd Charisse, Donald O’Connor, Marge Champion and choreographer Marguerite Derricks for TCM’s archives, taped at the Empire Studios in Burbank. During taping, Miller was surprised with a birthday cake — she says it’s her 77th. On hand from Atlanta was TCM exec VP and g.m. Tom Karsch well as Roger Mayer, prexy of Turner Entertainment. Portions of the priceless reminiscences will air with the TCM film fest in June. … And Oscar winner Rod Steiger was surprised on his 75th birthday, Saturday, at Tony’s Tavern in Malibu. Among guests were Lois and Jim Garner, Eileen and Jonathan Winters and Tom Berenger and Burt Reynolds who are currently costarring with Steiger in “The Hollywood Sign” feature. Also there, Joan Benedict, Steiger’s business manager Jess Morgan who hosted, and his agents Daryl Marshak and Harry Gold. … The “Lion King’s” Julie Taymor-directed, Elliot Goldenthal-musicked “The Green Bird” bows tonight at the Cort with party following at the Russian Tea Room. Bill Haber produces solo as his B’way career continues full-swing. Invitees include his former CAA partner and co-founder Ron Meyer, Harvey Weinstein, pals Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue, Barbara Taylor and Bob Bradford, Robert De Niro, Regis and Joy Philbin, Geoffrey Rush, Arthur Penn, Sidney Lumet, Stanley Donen, Christopher Plummer, Cicely Tyson, Chita Rivera, Betty Comden, etc.