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Jack Carter: The show must go on?

GOOD MORNING: I spoke with Jack Carter in the Intensive Care Unit of Cedars-Sinai Thursday as he was being readied for this morning’s triple bypass heart surgery. Jack and his loving wife Roxanne had just confabbed with his assistant surgeon and his nurse. He followed on the fone to me. From his hospital bed, Carter did a routine on what it was like going into an emergency room. “So there’s this guy there waiting; he’s holding his head in his hands …” He proceeded to enumerated the celeb-named suites in the hospital. “Yeah, and he’s in the Last Angry Man Suite,” laughed best friend Norm Crosby. Seriously folks, Carter was thankful his heart was strong enough to get him to the emergency room. And thankful to Roxanne, who insisted they immediately go there when he felt a pain in his chest as they were en route to HBO’s screening at the WGA of “We Stand Alone,” the docu of the men of Easy Company (as depicted in “Band of Brothers.”) Earlier in the week Carter collapsed in a shopping mall while en route to a taping session for the cartoon series, “Static.” While medics tried to stop him he insisted he had to get to the session! Y’know the old adage, the show must go on. Well one show won’t go on: tonight’s skedded Friars toast (roast) to him in BevHills. Jack lamented that N.Y. Friars Freddie Roman and Robert Merrill were among those flying out for the event. Jack told me he and Merrill were “babies” together. “We toured in the Major Bowes talent unit, along with Frank Sinatra and the Hoboken Four, Paul Winchell and m.c. Ted Mack.” Carter also reminisced his early days at the Mill Pond Playhouse, with Christopher Morley instructing him and others including Angela Lansbury, Jeff Chandler, Richard Brooks, etc. … I wished him well on the surgery and then reminisced on his amazing career — from the Catskills to Beverly Hills, from B’way stages to Burbank soundstages, from performances at swanky soirees or in schlocky sites. Whenever and wherever a buddy needed a boost, whenever an ailing charity needed cheering, you could count on Carter. His bark camouflages a sweetness within. I wished him well. He’s due to follow the surgery with the implant of a pacemaker–it’ll have to work overtime to keep up with Jack Carter.

ADD TO DAILY VARIETY‘S exclusive stories Oct. 18 and Nov. 7 on the Hollywood-D.C. war summit: This weekend, when President Bush’s senior advisor Karl Rove meets with industry top leaders, he will also have a meeting with Charles Wick, who headed the USIA for eight years during the Reagan Administration. They will also meet with Gerald Parsky, Bush’s campaign manager in Calif., who was largely responsible for the meet with the showbiz contingent. Before joining the Reagan troupe in D.C., Wick had a showbiz background starting with the Tommy Dorsey band (he plays a helluva piano!), continuing on to the William Morris Agency, then producing TV and features (including ‘Snow White and the Three Stooges”). During his tenure in the USIA, he helped develop a cultural exchange with the Soviet Union in those dark days of 1985. He spent 10 days there helping to promote that exchange and he’d met with Jack Valenti and industry reps on the issue. It became an item agreed on during those summit meetings between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. I asked Wick about the upcoming meeting with Rove and any suggestions by him for counter propaganda in today’s war via radio or –? Wick said, “I’m available.” His son, producer Doug Wick, is readying the release of “Spy Game” in which Robert Redford and Brad Pitt play CIAgents — from the Vietnam war to the heyday of the cold war, to Beirut in the ’80s. It’s Redford as you love to see him again … Tonight’s screening of “The Tunnel” at Laemmle Music Hall BevHills is part of the Made In Germany fest and will include “Tunnel” filmmakers and costars. I spoke to the real tunnel digger (under the Berlin Wall) Hasso Herschel, who now lives in a small farm 100 miles north of Berlin. He said the two greatest moments in his life: meeting up with his sister when he completed the tunnel and when the Berlin Wall came down — 12 years ago today!

JAY LIVINGSTON WAS REMEMBERED with a warm tribute at the Friars in BevHills. His (and Ray Evans’) evergreen songs were performed by Byron Motley (“To Each His Own”), Sue Raney (“Dear Hearts”), Melissa Manchester (“Never Let Me Go”), Michael Feinstein (a medley of their songs to be in his forthcoming CD) and Corky Hale (a medley of Jay’s tunes), winding with all singing “Que Sera Sera.” Warm remembrances were given by Christopher Livingston, Jay’s nephew; Rod McKuen, Ray Evans, Randy Talmadge, Jay’s son-in-law; and Red Buttons, who noted he was delighted they’d written a song for him: “Buttons and Bows.” Yours truly emceed for my pal Jay and his widow Shirley. The hall was filled with music, music lovers and much love … Alan & Marilyn Bergman and Michel Legrand are toasted at tonight’s American Society of Music Arrangers & Composers dinner at the BevHilton. Jack Jones and Fred Travalena entertain … June Haver, Wink Martindale and Ruta Lee helped the three-day City of Hope luncheons at the BevHilton raise $250,000 … Johnny Grant Way is the new street behind Hollywood & Highland. And at tomorrow’s halftime between UCLA and Oregon, Grant receives the Veteran of the Year award.

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