GOOD MORNING: Do you have any idea how important it is to preserve classic film footage? Back in 1970, MGM filmed Elvis Presley in rehearsals on the Culver City lot and followed that with Denis Sanders filming all of his performances at the Las Vegas Hilton — seven nights worth. In that same year, Elvis signed a pledge to the Motion Picture and TV Fund — and is shown on camera donating his first check — $50,000. (He eventually contributed $250,000). That film, “Elvis: That’s the Way It Is,” left 50,000 feet of priceless unused Presley footage and was preserved in vaults — first at MGM, then at Turner and for the last two years at WB. Roger Mayer, leader in film preservation, took on the challenge of restoring footage in which sound was separated from film, discovering 25 numbers that were not used in the original — and many of them better than those used. It will now be “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is — Special Edition” and Turner Classic Movies will air it Jan. 8 with many repeats to follow. It is exec produced by Mayer and George Feltenstein and produced by Rick Schmidlin. And here’s a sweetener: Turner made a deal with the Elvis Presley Estate to continue the same deal Elvis made in 1970 — namely a percentage of the gross goes to the MPTF. The fund will also get a percentage of this film’s sales to video — and theatrical distribution overseas. The MPTF will launch a fundraising campaign via a new Web site, www.elvischarity.com. The new pic preemed at WB for an audience of the fund’s “Next Generation.”THE APPLAUSE RESOUNDED from the Tiffany theater to the Polo Lounge of the Beverly Hills Hotel Sunday night — and soon to B’way, the audience learned. An invitation-only audience gave standing ovations to Heshey Felder, star of “George Gershwin Alone,” at the theater, and again when he entered the hotel for the party by HTG Prods., producer Richard Willis — and Felder. Guests included Helen Hayes Theater owner Marty Markinson, who joins in the production for N.Y. and hopes the play will open at his theater in time to qualify for next year’s Tonys. He said, “I want to have you in my theater (the Hayes) as long as you want to be there.” (“Dirty Blonde” is currently a hit there). The play remains at the Tiffany through Dec. 17, moves on to Florida dates in West Palm Beach and Coral Springs pre-N.Y.). Guests included Walter Miller, who will again produce the Tonys. Also applauding “Gershwin’s” Felder was director Irvin Kershner, who is also readying a B’way musical, “Six Days” by Ren Tobano, about the Six Day War … Among others congrating Felder was director Rob Minkoff, readying “Stuart Little 2″ to be shot during Geena Davis’ TV hiatus. Guests included Felder’s wife and former prime minister of Canada, Kim Campbell, former Demo Calif. Senatorial contender Al Checchi, Gil Cates, Paul Miller, the play’s director Joel Zwick, Lainie Kazan and Carole Cook, who said, “I knew Gershwin, and now I feel like I really knew Gershwin” … The Museum of TV and Radio in BevHills again opened its many magical doors for its Ninth Intl. Children’s TV Festival Saturday with its many fascinating floors bubbling over with kids learning the many forms of magic TV can create. Jim Henson’s merry men were among those taking time to show ’em how the “Muppets” are born. “Live” actors filled the museum with laughter as they donned suits as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, Celeste and Babar, Olie and Zowie, Popeye and Olive Oyl — and a performance by the one and only Bear. P.S. The event also helped educate the kiddies’ parents — to help support this unique museum. AN AMBULANCE WAS DISPATCHED to the David E. Kelley Prod. offices at the Manhattan Beach Studios Monday afternoon when Kelley production president Pam Wisne was taken ill. She is hospitalized for tests but I am told she did not have a heart attack … Election insanity: Sunday, a frightened Tracy Scoggins rushed into the Ambrosia Comics and Collectibles store on Pico in West L.A. and asked Steve Barr if she could use a phone to call first, the police, second the Auto Club. Someone had slashed a tire on her car and key-gauged the side and hood. Her car bore a “Viva Bush” bumper sticker … Red Buttons at the BevHills Theater Guild tribute to Sid Caesar at the Friars: “Pat Buchanan is demanding a recount on votes in — Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart” … Writer Joan O’Brien says the election should be determined by Gore and Bush getting in the ring with Jesse Ventura — “the one who lasts longest wins” … Oprah Winfrey receives the Frank G. Wells Award Nov. 18 at the taping of the 10th Disney’s American Teacher Awards to air Dec. 22 on Lifetime. Winfrey’s honored for her “commitment to use the power of the media to educate and empower” … And tonight Gregory Peck produces his Readings Gala at the Beverly Wilshire. Proceeds of this evening establish the Gregory Peck Library Endowment — in the L.A. Public Library-Central Library and 67 branches. Readings tonight by: Anjelica Houston, Sally Field, Patrick Stewart and Jack Lemmon … Add educational note: Carol Burnett and Francis Ford Coppola co-chair a new UCLA Council of the Bruins’ School of Theater, Film and TV established by Dean Robert Rosen. The council is the leadership group of the newly formed UCLA TFT Alumni Network — of 9,000 alumni. The launch is Nov. 15 at the James Bridges Theater on campus. Mike Werb m.c’s.
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