GOOD MORNING: While the Capitol building segued into a new phase of operation Tuesday, all has been peaceful on the nearby stages of the Kennedy Center. The events have been playing to the usual attendance — especially the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor salute to Whoopi Goldberg this week. No special security checks were required of attendees — not the metallic curtain as at the Kennedy Center Honors gala. And among those attending the Goldberg salute was the Kennedy Center Honors’ George Stevens Jr. who tells me the Dec. 2 honors will indeed be held as always. And none of those — honorees or those so far asked to participate — have indicated any thought of not attending, winging in from wherever. And Secretary of State Colin Powell will host the black tie dinner at the State Department on Dec. 1, the traditional evening preceding the White House reception and gala, televised in the Center. Powell’s wife Alma is a trustee of the Kennedy Center and the Powells have been regular supporters of the gala for the many years. We have been attending as well … Lalo Schifrin, who has received (among many other awards) one from the Israeli government for Contributions to World Understanding Through Music, has been commissioned by the Sultan of Oman to write a symphony titled “Symphonic Impressions of Oman.” And the Sultan has already ordered 5,000 copies of the forthcoming CD. Schifrin, who has been to Oman twice, was last there in January, for the Festival of Omani Music. He said he was plenty nervous when the plane had to stop in Kuwait to refuel. Schifrin has composed scores for TV shows and films including “Mission: Impossible” “Cool Hand Luke,” “Rush Hour” and its sequel. Despite having won four Grammys and six Oscar nominations, well as classical albums, he did not want to take on this gig until he’d studied the music and the country. He gives it a total rave, calling it “magical, like Sheherzade” and reminds that it is part of the coalition of Arab countries assembled by the U.S. He has a past history, which included a tour for the U.S.I.A. to Bulgaria to concert in Sofia where the symphony orch played his works — and finale’d with “Stars and Stripes Forever.” He heads to London next week to record his Oman work with London Symphony Orchestra. It is not with native instruments but rather his impressions — the music will be available for symphonies all over the world. The sultan’s chief of staff will be on hand to listen. The sultan wants to eventually bring the London Symphony Orchestra, baton’d by Schifrin, to play in the country’s capital Muscat. Oman, whose chief religion is Muslim, neighbors on the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and is at the top of the Musandam peninsula that controls access to the Persian Gulf. Schifrin also told me that British troops are now training there for the Afghanistan campaign to come. After his date for the sultan of Oman, Schifrin (born in Buenos Aires and a U.S. citizen) heads to France to be honored in Burgundy cities where theaters will play pix with his scores — and he’ll be honored on the last night of the tribute in Auxerre where he’ll also conduct a suite of his pic scores.
AMPAS PRESIDENT FRANK PIERSON, who left no question about the future of Oscar in Tuesday’s Daily Variety, was at the awards’ new site, the Kodak Theater Tuesday looking at the theater’s “final touches.” And he remained positive … Meanwhile, the impact of terrorism on the entertainment industry will be the subject discussed by Sydney Pollack, Aaron Sorkin, Edward Zwick, Gary Ross and Kevin Sullivan at Occidental College’s Policy Forum, Oct. 22 … The Museum of Tolerance at the Wiesenthal Center will hold a special screening Oct. 24 of “K-PAX” staring Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges. Director Iain Softley (“Wings of the Dove”) will participate in a Q&A about the pic — which deals with both the issue of science vs. faith and tolerance overall.
LOOK FOR THE STARS OF “FRIENDS” to be offered — instead of salary increases — the opportunity to do fewer segs and thus have the opportunity to take outside offers — like movies, y’know … While the Cubbies are out of the running, the “Bleacher Bums” feature plays tonight’s closer at the Chi International Film Fest. The pic, a tribute to the long-suffering Cub fans, is exec produced by Windy City natives Steve Rubin and Mitch Paradise. The comedy’s based on the play conceived by Joe Mantegna and written by Roberta Custer, a member of Chicago’s Organic Theater … Toronto is New York — and D.C. PAX TV’s “Pretend You Do See Her” is now shooting there with Emma Samms starring — and shifting from her British accent to New Yorkese in the Mary Higgins Clark-based yarn. She lets me know she is not playing “an innocent” again — but this time a tough witness to a murder, a happy change of pace, she laughs. Meanwhile, Samms, who wrote “His Bodyguard” for the USA net last year, is setting her next (untitled) script in South Africa for Peak Ziegwing … And the “Brady Bunch in the White House,” readying to shoot in Toronto, has altered a scene involving an Israel-Arab confrontation to one between an opera star and rapper! The Par-TV feature will air on the Fox web … Larry Gelbart’s musicalized “Lysistrata,” to bow in June for the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, will be musicked by Alan Menken with lyrics by Arnold Weinstein. The show moves on to the (Hal) Prince Theater in Philly … Larry Gelbart receives the American Medical Assn.’s tribute for “MASH,” Dec. 1 in San Fran. Same night, the Anti-Defamation League honors Gelbart with its first William S. Paley Award at the Kodak Theater. That’s what happens, Larry, when you’re so damned talented.