‘Kindertransport’ honored in Berlin, ready for U.S. vid/DVD bow

GOOD MORNING: “When you wonder whether it’s too late –” producer Deborah Oppenheimer wondered to me from Berlin. On Sunday night, the opening of the (second) Jewish Museum, Oppenheimer’s Oscar-winning docufeature “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport” was honored, as it will be part of the permanent collection. The first museum, as you might have guessed, was destroyed in 1938 by the Nazis. The film is the story of the children who were transported from Nazi Germany to homes in England; most never saw their parents again. The new museum, designed by David Liberskind as a deconstructed Star of David, tells the history of Jews in Germany through the centuries. On hand were President of Germany Johannes Rau and Chancellor Gerhard Schroder. Germany has made the film part of compulsory Holocaust secondary education. On hand were AOL-Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin and WB CEO Barry Meyer, both highly instrumental in the “Kindertransport” project from its start. “Sixty Minutes II” is following the history of this film; today, the series follows Oppenheimer to Chemnitz Germany, birthplace of her mother who was a Kindertransport. She never went back to her birthplace; her parents were killed in the death camps. Deborah Oppenheimer had just also returned from Jerusalem, where her film was shown at the film fest. She arrived in Israel after a suicide bomber struck — and before another killed more innocents … WB is readying the “Kindertransport” DVD and VHS versions and will distribute ’em (gratis) to classrooms throughout the U.S. HBO will air it Dec. 10. This film has become a living document.

L.A. THEATERGOERS had plenty to cheer as the Center Theater Group celebrated the launch of its 35th season Saturday night with a benefit bow of Matthew Bourne’s “The Car Man: An Auto-Erotic Thriller.” The non-stop, energetic and talented dancers, backed by the music of Bizet’s “Carmen,” as batoned by Brett Morris, got a solid standing ovation. The benefit grossed $250,000; the contributors were treated to a pre-show cocktail party on the Music Center’s Plaza, followed by dinner in the Grand Hall of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Jonathan Silverman (fresh from filming “Bobby’s Girl” in Ireland), who last season starred in the Taper’s “Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine,” introduced an after-supper program of upcoming CTG shows with performances by Suzanna Guzman (“Habanera” from “Carmen”), Lea Salonga (“Love, Look Away” from “Flower Drum Song”), Sharon Brown & Davis Gaines (“Written in the Stars” from “Aida”), and Dale Kristien (“On the Steps of the Palace” from “Into the Woods”). CTG director Gordon Davidson, getting congrats from all, is off to N.Y. to direct Alan Alda and Kellie Overbey in “QED” at the Beaumont theater following its Taper bow here. Davidson and Bourne are already in talks for another creative teaming on “Edward Scissorhands.” They hope to have some input from Tim Burton … Dum-Tada-Dum-Tada-Dum-Dum — that familiar theme from “Bonanza” was notably muted on Sunday night’s debut airing of “Ponderosa.” The “full card” credit promised to original “Bonanza” theme composers Jay Livingston & Ray Evans was totally missing, despite an agreement to the contrary. Jay’s rep Randy Talmadge told me the tale of frustrating negotiations, with PAX-TV’s Jeff Sagansky insisting on including the universally familiar tune. The tune’s inclusion and credit were settled only on Friday before Sunday’s airing. But Dum-Tada-Dum-Tada-Dum-Dum was done in, as was the credit. Stay tuned for developments.

PAUL MCCARTNEY SERENADED Hillary Clinton, Marlo Thomas, Lilly Tartikoff and his fiancee Heather Mills Monday afternoon as the ladies waited in the Green Room at Avery Fisher Hall of Lincoln Center. At the piano, McCartney’s ad-lib tune interlude included “Heather,” which he’s written for you-know-who. The ladies were being honored at Redbook’s “Mothers and Shakers” women of the year awards. Sen. Clinton had to go on first as she explained, “I have to get to Washington to vote!” Marlo works tomorrow in Grand Central Station for Lifetime’s special, “It Only Takes One” series about local heroes … Irwin Winkler winged into N.Y. from Toronto’s fest, where his “Life as a House” got prolonged applause. “It played like ‘Rocky,’ ” he told me. Cast members on hand included Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott Thomas, Mary Steenburgen, Jena Malone and Hayden Christensen, well as producer Rob Cowan, and New Line’s Bob Shaye. Winkler had appealed the R rating. “We lost by one vote,” he said. Winkler also got word from Sony they are so enthused with his “Enough,” starring Jennifer Lopez, they will open it Memorial Day 2002 … Actor-producer Alex Hyde White’s “Pursuit of Happiness,” his first feature for TMG, bows tonight as part of the N.Y. Indie Film Fest. He just wound playing Gen. Burnside in Turner-Warner’s “Gods and Generals” Civil War epic … “An American Werewolf in London” celebrates its 20th anni at N.Y.’s Waverly Theater tonight as U releases the Collector’s Edition DVD … Tonight at the Kennedy Center’s 30th anni honoring the legacy of President John F. Kennedy, a million-$ contribution by the Kennedy family in honor of Rosemary Kennedy will be announced … Bravo’s “It Factor” cast meets each other for the first time tonight at the screening at NYC’s Tribeca Grand Hotel. The series preems Sept. 30.

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