GOOD MORNING: In search of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis — that’s what had been going on at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. And, “In Search of Peace (Part One: 1948-1967),” from the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Moriah Film, preemed Sunday in Jerusalem and today in Tel Aviv. Tuesday night, I spoke with the Center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier, who produced the feature docu with (director) Richard Trank. The duo won an Oscar for “The Long Way Home” in 1997 and earlier for Hier on “Genocide” in 1981 (narrated by Orson Welles and Elizabeth Taylor). Sir Martin Gilbert scripted “Peace” with Hier. After talking with Hier in Tel Aviv, I can tell you the search for peace is still going on. He said the mood of both cities (and the country) is “very worried — from the taxi drivers to the hotels and the bellmen, everyone is worried. The hotels are deserted. At this time of year (the Succoth holiday) they are usually full with international tourists. Not this year; people are fearing a war. They fear the worst. The Arab Foreign ministers meet in Morocco Saturday and they will condemn Israel. The mood of the country has changed. They feel Arafat has lost control and that he walked away from all offers. He wants all of eastern Jerusalem and no Israeli would ever agree to that.” Despite the fears, Hier said tonight’s “Search for Peace” Tel Aviv preem will be attended by 25 international ambassadors from the U.S., Russia, China, France, England, Australia, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Ireland, Japan, Brazil, Czech Republic, etc. Security is very, very tight as it had been for the preem in Jerusalem, where the main theater (950 seats forced an overflow into a second 450-seat theater) and a third video’d to the cafeteria, where another 300 loudly cheered the film which “chronicles the first two decades of Israel’s existence, offering new insights into the origins of the Middle East conflict.” “It shows Israel warts and all,” says Hier, “and gives the Arabs the right to express their feelings, too.” Michael Douglas narrates the film and Ed Asner voices Ben-Gurion, Anne Bancroft is Golda Meir, Richard Dreyfuss is Yitzhak Rabin and Michael York is Chaim Herzog. “In Search of Peace, Part Two, 1968 — to the Present” is in preparation; Douglas will again be asked to narrate. Part One preems in N.Y. at the Ziegfeld Oct. 25, Nov. 13 at the DGA in L.A. with further preems in Chi, D.C., Miami and London prior to general theatrical release.
“O.J. SIMPSON HAD TO HAVE SPENT at least $250,000 to file that suit,” says Larry Schiller of Simpson’s attempt at restraining orders to stop the vidversion of Schiller’s “An American Tragedy,” which will air Nov. 12 and 15 on CBS. “And (Simpson) gave not one penny to the Goldmans and the Browns.” Schiller reminds, O.J. did not try to stop the hard or softcover versions of his book. The vidversion will not show O.J.’s face, just his body — and voice doubled. The story’s about the attorneys: Robert Shapiro, played by Ron Silver, Johnnie Cochran by Ving Rhames, F. Lee Bailey by Chris Plummer, etc. Norman Mailer scripted and Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana exec produced with Schiller; Bill Conti musicked, Peter Siner edits, and Bruce Surtees is DP. O.J.’s attorneys met with the actors pre-filming but none has seen one foot of film, assures Schiller. And yes, Schiller had met with O.J. once since the criminal trial — he had lunch with him during the civil trial. “And he never complained when the book came out.” I met up with Schiller at Elaine’s in N.Y., where he’d signed with his new agent, Andrea Eastman of ICM… Celebrating the Mets’ World Series-bound win at Elaine’s was former Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez, whose “Field of Dreams” gala Nov. 14 will honor Mets manager Bobby Valentine — who is skedded to sing with the Temptations. John McEnroe will play guitar. The event at the Metropolitan Pavilion raises funds for the Cobble Hill Health Center, an Alzheimer’s facility. Hernandez’s mom died of Alzheimer’s… Also in N.Y., we attended songwriter Denise Rich’s kickoff toast to Mikhail Gorbachev, who receives his honor along with Queen Noor of Jordan and Paul McCartney at the Angel Ball, Nov. 30 at N.Y.’s Marriott Marquis. The evening benefits the G&P Foundation for Cancer Research in memory of Rich’s daughter, Gabrielle Rich Aouad. Gorbachev gave a touching (translated) speech about the disease that cost him his wife Raisa. Among those at Rich’s spectacular penthouse who were moved by Gorbachev’s remarks and those of Denise: Hillary Clinton (Bill Clinton is honorary chairman of the Angel Ball), Andrew Cuomo, Don Hewitt, Les Moonves, Adrian Lyne, Gabriel Byrne, Blythe Danner, Jane Seymour, Phyllis George, Maria Cooper and Byron Janis.
BACK HOME IN L.A., the Young Musicians Foundation honored John Lithgow, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller and Corky Hale Stoller for their continued support of the YMF. At his BevHilton hotel, Merv Griffin emceed and won the Magic Baton, which entitled him to conduct the YMF symphony orch. He brought up daughter-in-law Trish to lead the orch in a moving rendition of “The Stripper.” The orch also played a medley of Leiber & Stoller’s music, including “Hound Dog,” and Lithgow’s composition, “Marsupial Sue.” The evening brought in $250,000-plus for the YMF… Merv received NATPE’s Creative Achievement Award at the Iris Awards, Tuesday on the Sony lot on the set of “Jeopardy!” — created by Griffin.