‘Agency’ plots to stop London terrorist bombing

GOOD MORNING: Another bombing is a fall TV series plot line. Last week, I told you “West Wing” was aimed at a Tel Aviv suicide bombing in which an American citizen was among those killed. Now, the fictionalized CIA version of “West Wing,” CBS’ “The Agency,” launches with the agency’s attempt to stop a terrorist bombing in London. Gil Bellows (alumnus of “Ally McBeal”) heads the cast of this “Agency.” Co-starring is Gloria Reuben, alumna of “ER.” Coincidentally, “The Agency” airs opposite “ER” Thursdays at 10, launching Sept. 20. But first it preems Sept. 18 at CIA HQ in D.C. with CBS’ Les Moonves leading the contingent that includes cast members as well as Wolfgang Petersen, one of the exec producers, making his TV series bow. Others expected to be on hand: Shaun Cassidy, Gail Katz and Michael Beckner, who also scripted the CIA-themed “Spy Games,” which stars Robert Redford and Brad Pitt … Oliver Stone has bowed out of the planned lavish “Carte Blanche” seg of the upcoming (Aug. 31-Sept. 9) Deauville film festival as projects he was plotting on will not be completed in time for him to participate. Stone’s departure from the fest follows Steven Spielberg’s film workload interference with film fest fun. However, the festival’s Ruda Dauphin assures me there will be much to see and write about at the Normandy resort. Among those she says will be there, Elizabeth Hurley, Julianne Moore, Johnny Depp, a tribute to Burt Reynolds and one to James Dean — with whom Ruda made his original WB screen test. And talking about Dean, the classic photo of the thesp made famous by Phil Stern is now the subject of Stern’s plans to take TNT to court for “plagiarism and infringement.” Stern, who just donated his enormous collection of stills, slides, negatives, etc. to the Academy Library, just returned from a two-week stay in Cuba celebrating the preem of a docu on Cuba’s famed photog “Korda” (the name he adopted). It was shown to Castro and international lensers and will make its way to the U.S.

STAGE 36 AT CBS AT 6 TONIGHT will be the scene for the tribute to Jack Elliott, who died Saturday of a brain tumor. His son Alan will conduct the celebration on the site where Elliott conducted for Judy Garland in 1963 — his first job in Hollywood. Dave Grusin, the composer who hired him for the gig, will play as will Peter Matz. The latter’s tune is the theme from “Where’s Poppa?” and Pat (Mrs. Larry) Gelbart will sing. Larry will be among the speakers as will Carl Reiner, who directed “Poppa.” Dick Baer will also toast Elliott. Larry also wrote the script for “Oh, God!,” which Elliott scored for director Arthur Hiller. Elliott had also musicked Reiner pics “The Comic” “The Jerk” and “Sibling Rivalry.” A clip from “Oh, God!” is also skedded to be shown … Saturday night’s “Henry Mancini Musicale: A Tribute to Quincy Jones,” was also a tribute to Elliott, who died that morning. He was the founder and spirit, following Hank, of the outlet for budding musicians. Gail Purse produced the moving show headed by Ginny Mancini and hosted by Kelsey Grammer — a music lover, as is the title character that he plays on his successful series. Patrick Williams conducted the Henry Mancini Institute Orch (just graduated and are they great!) in a medley of Mancini hits. Bassist Christian McBride played “Afterthoughts” with ’em, Dianne Reeves sang with ’em, Herbie Hancock piano’d “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” with ’em. And Quincy Jones rocked with ’em on his “Soul Bossa Nova” and Hank’s “Peter Gunn” theme. The Paramount front gate may need strengthening after that. Quincy warned, “Music is getting to be an endangered species. But not with the Mancini Institute to carry on. This is the highway to the future.” Quincy dedicated his award to Henry Mancini and to Jack Elliott … Sidney Poitier, who introduced Quincy and presented him with the Hank Award, enumerated his enormous list of accomplishments in a 50-year career of music. Poitier also displayed a lively sense of humor listing Q’s qualities — each one beginning with the letter “Q,” like, “Quality, Quintessential, Quarterback,” yes, even “Quixotic, Querulous and Quirky.” Evening was scripted by Buz Kohan.

THE FRIARS TRIBUTE to Aaron Spelling is postponed until Oct. 24. But I am assured he is on the road to recovery, having completed his series of radiation treatments for a throat lesion. He winds working at home shortly and will return to his office … Coincidentally, Norm Crosby, who will head the comedy salute to Spelling, told me he winds up radiation treatment for “a lump on the back of his tongue” in six weeks. He also underwent a “little bit of chemo and they are supremely confident I will be OK.” He sounded OK on the phone Monday and he was sensational onstage Thursday as Merv Griffin tossed a “Never Got a Dinner” dinner to Red Buttons poolside at — where else? — the Beverly Hilton. Merv had a giant screen on one wall facing the guests. Button’s pics and clips were unspooled to applause. And to cap it off, an Army contingent — bagpipers included — saluted Buttons, who was “appointed” an honorary major in the Army. “He served two terms in Normandy — one with the U.S. Army, two with Darryl F. Zanuck.” Ray Anthony and his band played all those tunes of the WWII era to round out the nostalgic evening. As Norm Crosby said, “It’s wonderful to see Red reach the pinochle of his career.”

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