GOOD MORNING: Fade out to 1998 and Milton Berle’s 90th birthday with a kickoff party at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Cynthia Gershman underwrote that party and Denise Rich put up $75,000 for TV rights to Uncle Miltie’s birthday which was to follow Oct. 5 at N.Y.’s Plaza hotel, where over $1 million was raised for the GNP Foundation for Cancer Research. You probably remember pictures from that latter party, at which both Hillary and Bill Clinton appeared; those pics were reshown throughout all the Marc Rich pardongate. Fade in to this past Sunday and Uncle Miltie’s 93rd birthday party: The Crystal Room of the Beverly Hills Hotel was packed to the walls and doors for the party underwritten by Loreen Arbus ($200,000) and three charities benefiting from $180,000 raised. Arbus reminded that she had learned about charities from her father Leonard Goldenson and, following his example, she has been visible in supporting several charities. Arbus thanked Aaron Tonken for assembling the talent for this tribute to Milton. Tonken had “brokered” the 90th birthday rights ($75,000) but said no fees were made for this evening, which was taped only “for archival use.” And what an archive of talent it contains. Among those in the show that Tonken exec produced and Norby Walters produced: Red Buttons (who received a standing ovation for his generous routine of those “who couldn’t make it”); Andy Williams (who also received a standing ovation after he serenaded Miltie at his table with “Moon River.” The others who were paraded on stage or at their tables by m.c. Ed McMahon and backed by bandleader Ray Anthony: John Byner, Sid Caesar, Jack Carter, Norm Crosby, Charles Durning, Shecky Greene, Robert Klein, Harvey Korman, Jan Murray, Carl Reiner, Robert Wuhl. And on stage, Little Richard and Charley Pride. Among longtime friends, Altovise Davis had winged in from Long Island (where she teaches dance). She said she is now thankfully cleared with the IRS on Sammy Davis Jr.’s estate. Among others in the audience, James Cromwell, Jim Coburn, Frances Fisher, Jack Klugman, Martin Landau, Camryn Manheim, Donna Mills, Jay Mohr, Richard Moll, Gary Owens, Cheri Oteri, Sidney Sheldon, Jay Livingston, Gary Smith, Budd Friedman. At Milton’s table: wife Lorna; Carrie and Bernie Brillstein; Sharon (Mrs. Gray) Davis, and Daphne Ziman. At the 90th Berle bash, a frail Bob Hope made an appearance. He could not make it this year. And among the sorely missed from the celebration were Steve Allen and Gary Morton. At his 90th birthday party, Berle said, “The next 90 years will be a breeze and I hope you’ll all be there.” At the finale of his 93rd, Berle bravely said, “I’ll see you next year” and everyone serenaded him with “That’s What Friends Are For.” Berle, although battling colon cancer maintains a good attitude. “He is such a trouper,” Lorna told me. He always was.
SHOWBIZ AND POLITIX — or, rather politix and showbiz: Attorney Chris Sautter, who won fame as Al Gore’s recount advisor at the Florida countdown and has been known in national political circles as “The King of Chads,” had a successful showing of his “The King of Steeltown” a political expose, at the N.Y. Intl. Independent Film & Video Festival. The pic, which he directed, wrote, produced and financed, screened in L.A. at the Laemmle Music Hall. Now Sautter’s readying a dramatic feature — not a documentary — on the life of Richard Joseph Daley, who was elected Mayor of Chicago for six terms, from 1955-1976 (he died in office, Dec. 20, 1976); he served longer than any other person as Chicago’s mayor … Jennifer Grey and actor-screenwriter Clark Gregg were married July 21 in Martha’s Vineyard, with a clambake on the beach. Among those on hand were Jennifer’s father Joel Grey and her mother, Jo Wilder. Also Michael J. Fox and wife Tracey Polan, William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman, Rob Morrow. The newlyweds expect a baby in September. Gregg recently wound acting in “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young” and scripted “What Lies Beneath” … Rob Lowe and wife Sheryl celebrated their 10th wedding anni July 22 at Ago with 50 friends including Kevin Spacey, Brian Miller, Christian Slater and NBC’s Scott Sassa.
TIM ALLEN, A FAN OF “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea,” the 1954 Kirk Douglas starrer directed by Richard Fleischer, will host a screening of the Disney classic as part of the Legacy Film Series from the Next Generation Council of the MPTVF, Sept. 13 at the DGA. Fleischer and Douglas are expected to participate in a panel discussion to follow. Could this be in the cards as a Disney remake with the new CGI techniques — and starring Allen? Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., director Robert Ellis Miller introduces his pic “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” (1968) as part of UCLA’s Film & TV Archives’ series, “The Cinematography of James Wong Howe.” Three of the stars will also attend: Sondra Locke, Chuck McCann and Stacy Keach (who debuted in the pic). Immediately following, a second example of Howe’s talents will be shown: “Picnic” (1955), starring William Holden, Kim Novak and Rosalind Russell … Film-TV composer Craig Safan winged to N.Y. to launch plans for the tuner “Flowers”; he did music and lyrics. He also has Disney’s two cablers, “Twas the Night” and “Gotta Kick It Up,” to his recent credits — and the current Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey circus!