‘SNL’ preps new season, host sked

GOOD MORNING: What do you do if you’re Lorne Michaels and you launch the (delayed) start of “Saturday Night Live” this week? “Obviously there’s no need to shock anyone — everyone’s already been in enough shock,” he said sadly. “And beyond trying to do our job, we will try to entertain — and to distract.” He reminds that “everyone on the show has had some involvement (with the tragedy of Sept. 11.). We are very sensitive. And we’re very focused.” He allows the show will be guided “day to day” — and he also admitted facing the possibility of a preemption. It’s hardly likely that Will Ferrell will do his devastating George W. characterization. Michaels pays tribute to Reese Witherspoon who winged in to host Saturday’s show. She arrived with her huband Ryan Phillippe and daughter Ava, 2. Ben Stiller dropped out of hosting next week’s show, Sean William Scott will step in. And Drew Barrymore moved her own sked to host the third “SNL” … Jay Leno, who volunteered to put on a (gratis) show Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to help the waiters and waitresses who are dealing with the disappearance of patrons, has now agreed to do a second show, Friday night, winging up immediately after he winds his NBC’er at Burbank. “All we ask the audience,” said Jay, “is that they tip the waiters and waitresses.” … And down at Palm Desert, the McCallum Theater is sold out for the Oct. 6 to benefit victims of the WTC and D.C. terrorist attacks. Desert resident Betty and Gerald Ford intro the event co-starring Susan Anton, Herb Jeffries, Jack Jones, Howard Keel, Hal Linden, Barry Manilow, Peter Marshall, Tony Sandler and Ralph Young, Suzanne Somers, Keely Smith, Warren Hill and — the cast (20) of “The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies” led by Riff Markowitrz — even though they do not officially open their 11th season until Nov. 6 starring Anna Maria Alberghetti.

KEVIN SPACEY IS AT CAPITOL this week laying down tracks for the Oct. 2. “Come Together: A Night of John Lennon’s Words & Music” tribute at Radio City Music Hall “to benefit relief organizations and support messages of a non-violent world.” It includes contributions to the Brady Center for gun control. Spacey, who will host the evening, says the evening “will also support Mayor Giuliani’s hopes for healing. This is an opportunity for the world to change.” The evening is carried live on TNT at 8 p.m. EDT. Ken Ehrlich is co-executive producer The performers include: Dave Matthews, Alanis Morissette, Moby, Lou Reed, Stone Temple Pilots, Cyndi Lauper, Marc Anthony, Nelly Furtado, Yolanda Adams, Sean Lennon, Rufus Wainwright, Dave Stewart, Shelby Lynne. And presenters include Ben Stiller, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Cuba Gooding Jr., James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Julia Stiles, etc. At week’s end Spacey leaves for Texas to star in “The Life of David Gale” … Talks are on for a New York remote venue (a studio?) on the Oct. 7 revised Emmy telecast. Thus the Gotham-based nominees could attend without having to wing west … Charlton Heston is readying to wing to Brazil to star in “Papa.” He’d play Josef Mengele, ‘”The Angel of Death,” the Nazi murderer who carried on horrendous genetic experiments murdering thousands of Jews. Back in 1978 Gregory Peck starred playing that role in “The Boys From Brazil” with an all-star cast including Laurence Olivier, James Mason, Steve Guttenberg. I visited that set in Lisbon, doubling for Brazil. This new version films in Brazil where Mengele was (is?) hiding — and is confronted by his son played by Thomas Kretschmann (“U-571”). F. Murray Abraham co-stars and Egidio Eronico directs.

EDIE AND LEW WASSERMAN will be honored at the Jules Stein Eye Institute’s Reflections Gala Saturday on the UCLA Campus. A new facility will be named in honor of the Wassermans who have been staunch supporters of the institute since its inception. He has been a member of the board of trustees since 1977. Jamie Lee Curtis and Suzanne Pleshette will femcee the evening produced by Gary Smith. A video tribute to the Wassermans includes an appearance by President Clinton … Producer-director Geoff Edwards marries costume designer Genevieve Tyrell Saturday at home in Silverlake. His dad, Blake Edwards, and stepmom, Julie Andrews, will attend well as Geoff’s mother Patricia (Snell) … Lee Solters’ grandson Jonah Reynolds married Heidi Loehrer Saturday at Matteo’s private banquet room … Writer-producer Jenji Kohan and husband, journalist Christopher Noxon, welcomed daughter Eliza Claire Kohan Noxon Monday at Cedars-Sinai. Six hours after Eliza’s birth, momma Jenji kept a conference call with Disney/Touchstone on the pilot she’s writing for ’em, “Gold.” The happy grandparents are writers Buz and Rhea Kohan … Susan Segal, daughter of publicists Maury and Claire Segal, does a book reading/signing of her first novel, ” Aria” (Bridge Works), Sunday at Dutton’s in Brentwood … After Kirstie Alley opened her literacy program for children in the Church of Scientology Mission in Beverly Hills, the well-wishers (over 400, proceeded across the street to the Friars Club for an evening featuring Dan Finnerty and the Dan Band. Immediately after, Kirstie boarded a bus to open another of her Lillie’s Learning Places in the Church of Scientology Mission in Sacramento and then drove to San Francisco to help open their Scientology Mission. The “Learning Places” are based on the educational methods of L. Ron Hubbard. The Friars’ president Irwin Schaeffer noted the event was not Friars sponsored. “We just rent out the hall as we do for others.”

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