GOOD MORNING: While Julia Roberts and John Cusack are playing “America’s Sweethearts” in Revolution’s upcoming comedy, there’s no doubt that the real-life America’s Sweethearts are Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas. This was evident again Tuesday night at the BevWilshire, where they received the 2001 Courage Award from the Saks Fifth Ave./Cedars-Sinai Research for Women’s Cancers “Unforgettable” gala. For further evidence, Michael will receive the Humanitarian Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance, June 25 at the BevHilton. He narrated their “In Search of Peace” docu (produced by Rabbi Marvin Hier and Rick Trank), in addition to other contributions to the Center. Next week Michael tapes two more p.s.a.’s on gun control for the Jim & Sarah Brady Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, whose aims include keeping children away from guns. And you know where they get the guns … There are no quick pix planned by Michael or Catherine pre-strike. He has two days remaining to film in “Don’t Say a Word” in Toronto. They’ll then head to their home in Majorca to relax with baby Dylan. Musing on the now-history 73rd Oscars, Michael thought the season preceding is much too long and overblown. The Douglases return in June when she’ll do the press junket for “America’s Sweethearts.”
I COULD ALSO ATTACH the “America’s Sweethearts” label to Kirk and Anne Douglas. She is one of the founders of the Research for Women’s Cancers organization (along with Marion Laurie). Anne Douglas claimed “Kirk said that if I leave him, he will go with me, and that’s why he’s here tonight.” And early Wednesday morning, following the long night for Catherine and Michael, Anne and Kirk were at the Chase Elementary School in Panorama City dedicating their 104th playground addition — this time converting the all-asphalt playground to grass, trees, flowers. “When I see those happy children,” Kirk said afterward, “it gives me a lump in my throat.” Kirk receives the Duke Award April 28 from the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John’s. The event at the BevHilton will be emceed by Merv Griffin. During the “Unforgettable” evening, Robert Downey Jr. made his way to our table to talk with Kirk — to thank him for his encouragement during these trying times. Kirk took pen in hand (at which he is very capable!) to write Downey when he was hospitalized to offer him encouragement — and a little advice. Kirk told me, “He (Downey) is so talented, but I told him, ‘Talent is a God-given thing, but it must be nurtured and protected’ ” … Downey’s talents were again proven as he joined the very generous Sting in the final two numbers of his performance, “Every Breath You Take” and “Penny Lane.” Downey had been brought onstage by Sting during his Greek theater concert, one week after Downey’s jail departure. They’ll duet again when Sting cameos on “Ally McBeal,” April 30.
WHILE THE EVENING’S SUCCESS was apparent by the reception given all the performers — emcee Jay Leno, duetting Evan and Jaron — the seriousness of the event was recalled by all the principals: Michael told that his mother and stepmother both are cancer survivors, Catherine told of her mother’s discovery “of a “lump.” Sting dedicated “Fields of Gold” to his mom, saying she “fought in the front line in the battle” against cancer, adding, “I miss her very much.” The poem “Unforgettable” by Christina Carlino, as read by Zeta-Jones, left nary a dry eye in the house as she enumerated every “unforgettable” cancer-stricken woman … The executive chairs this year were Anne Douglas, Marion Laurie, Sandra Krause, Renette Ezralow, Margie Petersen, Kelly Chapman Meyer and Jamie Tisch. Last year, this great group landed Oscar winner Elton John as their star. This year, they ditto’d with nominee Sting. Who will be nominated next year — just check the star of the group’s next show! … Natalie Cole, who helped get this group rolling originally by generously donating her singing talents on her father Nat’s birthday, was surprised with an “Unforgettable” award … Again this year, Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg were honorary chairs. Bonnie Bruckheimer, who is national spokeswoman of the group along with Candice Bergen, winged out Wednesday ayem for Wilmington to start her WB feature, “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” starring Sandra Bullock, Ellen Burstyn, James Garner, Cherry Jones, Ashley Judd, Shirley Knight, Matthew Settle and Maggie Smith (the billing, as here, will be alphabetical), with Callie Khouri directing. Bruckheimer said Bette Midler will take time off this summer, following her experience in series TV. No, she’ll not try it again … There’s no limit to the amount of research that can be done to cure cancer, as evident by the attendance of Lilly Tartikoff who chairs the Fire & Ice Ball benefiting the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research. The ball’s skedded for December, “hopefully on a studio sound stage.” In advance, there’s the Revlon Run/Walk, May 5 in N.Y., May 12 in L.A. and May 19 in Monaco where Prince Albert will head the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s gala with QVC … I would be remiss in not noting a sour note to an otherwise wonderful evening: the incompetent management of valet parking at the BevWilshire hotel.