Salt Lake City shows off America

GOOD MORNING: David Wolper is mad as hell — over statements made by the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee president Mitt Romney. The latter, talking about the Olympics TV show, said, “We want to avoid a jingoistic tone. This is not a time to talk about how great America is.” The tribute to America will not be a part of the television program — it will come an hour before the official show starts. Wolper, who produced the (terrif) opening and closing ceremonies of the 1984 Olympics in L.A., told me, “This IS the time to be patriotic. This is the time to show how great America is. When they did the Olympics in Seoul — or elsewhere — didn’t each host country try to show its greatness to the world viewing audience?” Wolper is not finished showing America to the world via TV. The father of “Roots” tells me he’s contemplating a 14-hour miniseries about American history. The 25th anniversary of “Roots” will be celebrated Jan. 18 on NBC, produced by Judith Leonard and hosted by LeVar Burton, who starred in “Roots.” You recall it aired initially on ABC, which turned down this special. “I couldn’t believe it,” Wolper says. “Isn’t there any pride in ownership?” Before airing the special, there’s a live Jan. 6 viewing at the Apollo Theater in N.Y., with Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis hosting. And on Jan. 15, the 25th-anniversary DVD of “Roots” is released. It includes interviews with principals, of course, including Wolper, and outtakes.

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND: Back in 1963, “Enter Laughing,” the legit version of Carl Reiner’s novelized life, bowed on B’way with Alan Arkin playing Reiner — and winning a Tony. Now, Carl will play the father of Alan’s son, Adam, in the Viacom/CBS series “Baby Bob.” Carl, who will be 80 on March 20, is enjoying a constantly successful career — the most recent is raves for his performance in “Ocean’s Eleven.” P.S. Carl will now m.c. the Golan Dinner honoring — Jerry Weintraub. P.P.S. Carl also appeared with Jerry in “Oh God” … Add second generations: David Lee Strasberg produces the Adam Davidson-directed “Names” by Mark Kemble, which runs at the Lee Strasberg Creative Center in West Hollywood Jan. 4-27 … Jan. 11-12 at the Strasberg, Renee Taylor stars in her one-woman “Golda Meir,” directed by husband Joe Bologna. It’s a benefit for the Hollygrove Children & Family Services Center, which, Renee reminds me, was the orphanage where Marilyn Monroe’s mom, Gladys, placed the young Norma Jean, 1935-37. As the story goes, Norma Jean used to look out her window and gaze at the Paramount Studios water tower — and dream. Is this a scene for a movie or what? Taylor also tells me she plans to take “Golda” to N.Y … For 18 years Jack Sheldon tooted on Merv Griffin’s TV show. From Dec. 27 through New Year’s Eve, Sheldon will play at Merv Griffin’s Palm Springs Hotel. Simon & Schuster will publish the second tome of Merv’s autobiog, “Re-Inventing Merv Griffin,” which deals with his progress from band singer/piano player to tycoon.

“THE ELVIS AND MARILYN AFFAIR,” “The James Dean Affair” and “The John Lennon Affair” by Bob Levinson for Forge Books have been optioned by Standing O Pictures (Michael, Robby and Joe Sutton). The lead characters are an L.A. reporter named Neil Gulliver and Stevie Marriner, his ex-wife and a soap star. Forge also will publish Levinson’s next — “The Andy Warhol Affair.” Meanwhile, young Michael Sutton co-stars with James Russo in Capture Films’ “My Daughter’s Tears.” Sutton also runs the Hollywood Canteen … Jerry Leider just wound “Cadet Kelly” for the Disney Channel with fellow producer Bob Shapiro and next starts “Coast to Coast” for Showtime with Richard Waltzer. Leider celebrates with wife Susan on their 33rd wedding anni in Rancho Santa Fe … “Come hell or high water,” Jack Carter, who underwent quadruple bypass surgery Nov. 9, says he’ll return to work Jan. 12 in Florida with Freddy Roman and Gabe Kaplan and continue on tour with Paul Reiser … And Norm Crosby, who successfully completed his chemotherapy treatments, heads out to entertain on the Royal Caribbean line in mid-January … It was like a combined meeting of Friars men and SHARE ladies at Joni and Jody Berry’s holiday party. The comics on hand, in addition to Carter and Crosby, included Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Red Buttons, John Byner and Budd Friedman … And showbiz and civilian toppers ooh’d and ah’d as they roamed through the BevHills estate once owned by Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst at the holiday gathering hosted by owners Nataalia and Leonard M. Ross, who are expecting their first child. The home and grounds, brilliantly lighted, look like a smaller San Simeon. I once delivered material from the Herald-Express to Marion at this house when she was married to (Capt.) Horace Brown. … The new year will see a new restaurant on the L.A. scene. The 5′ (pronounced Five Feet) opens on the site of the former Le Colonial; Tony Peck partners with Michael Kang, who opened the original 5′ in Laguna Beach in 1985. The bar is called 5:15 (as in the time to start the happy hour) … Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. See you in 2002.

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