GOOD MORNING: “This is no time for ‘exclusives,” Don Hewitt told CBS news toppers immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks. That attitude is proven tonight on ABC’s “Nightline” live town hall meeting anchored by Ted Koppel at the D.C. h.q. of the American Red Cross: The spec and CBS’s “60 Minutes” will share some footage. The “Nightline” seg is titled “Clear and Present Danger: America Fights Back.” Koppel, en route to the White House Thursday, told me, “It’ll frighten people — and they should be frightened by the lack of preparedness we have against biological and pharmaceutical warfare.” Col. Randy Larsen, in charge of the homeland defenses, will reveal the results of last summer’s “Dark Winter” war games vs. such attacks and the consequences that can befall our country — which is unprepared. Koppel told me he’d asked Hewitt to use last Sunday’s “60 Minutes” seg in which Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Health & Human Services, had told Mike Wallace we are well-prepared against biological warfare. Hewitt immediately gave Koppel permission to air the interview. Hewitt added that this coming Sunday’s “60 Minutes” seg, “Blueprint For Survival,” will point out “that nobody of any consequence has agreed with what he (Thompson) said about our safety from biological attack.” Koppel told me the seriousness of concerns for such an attack is revealed when Gen. Russell Davis immediately headed to the stricken World Trade Center towers and Pentagon — because biological poisons might have possibly been released … Hewitt said of these mutually-themed shows, “Let’s share.” He reminds, “I’m old enough to remember our race for survival, the A-bomb race at Los Alamos and Oak Ridge — the race led by men like FDR and Robert Oppenheimer, etc. I don’t see anyone taking this race for survival as seriously as FDR did. We’re sharing everything; we’ve got to” … Koppel and “Nightline” also gave thought and airtime to those who would tamper with free speech (in these times) under the guise of patriotism. Koppel warned about those who say, “I agree with free speech — as long as I agree with what they say.” Stay tuned to “Nightline” and “60 Minutes.”
THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY has always been at the fore in all times of need for others, but on Saturday the Motion Picture & Television Fund — whose motto is “Taking Care of Our Own” — celebrates its 80th anniversary at the MPTF’s Country House & Hospital in Woodland Hills. The occasion also celebrates the dedication of the Fran & Ray Stark Villa complex. The first resident will be producer/TV Hall of Fame’r Ethel Winant. Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of the Funds Foundation, has been leading the drive for $50,000 donations from industryites for the new villas. He told me 75 participants have committed and over 100 more are incoming … About Saturday’s event, Katzenberg notes, “This is an opportunity for the Hollywood community to come together in the spirit of caring that has overcome the nation.” Kirk and Michael Douglas, two generations of staunch MPTF supporters, will open the ceremonies; composer David Foster heads the musical portion of the evening which includes participation by Polly Bergen, Tim Allen, Sydney Pollack, Sally Field, John Frankenheimer and Cloris Leachman. Many stars are expected to attend. Dedication ceremonies are skedded for the Roddy McDowall Rose Garden, the Katzenberg Activity Center and the Edie & Lew Wasserman Koi Pond dedicated to the memory of Jean Hersholt. Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg host the evening along with Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
I HAVEN’T HUGGED THIS MANY PEOPLE in years!” said director Joe Sargent, reflecting the warm feeling at the 50th anni party of the Hallmark Hall of Fame at Morton’s Wednesday night. It was hosted by the UCLA Film & TV Archives and the Academy of TV Arts & Sciences. ATAS’s Jim Chabin and Bruce Zabel were on hand plus alumni of Hall of Fame shows including Sargent, who won Emmys from these shows for ’em: “Love Is Never Silent,” “Caroline?” and “Miss Rose White.” Also there from “Love,” Julianna Fjeld , Marian Rees, and Dorothea Petrie; also Beau Bridges (“Stubby Pringle’s Christmas”), Michael York (“The Master of Ballantrae”), Phyllis Frelich and Ed Waterstreet (“Love Is Never Silent”), JoBeth Williams (My Name Is Bill W”), Stephanie Zimbalist (“Caroline?”), Kimberley Williams (“Follow the Stars Home”). And directors Jud Taylor, Delbert Mann, Daniel Petrie, Karen Arthur, John Kent Harrison, Christopher Cain, Simon Wincer, Michael Pressman, Brent Shields, Martha Coolidge and Hallmark’s Russ Patrick. Guests were given a copy of UCLA’s Film & TV Archive book, “Hallmark Hall of Fame, The First 50 Years,” starting with “Amahl and the Night Visitors” (1951). The historical tome quotes Daily Variety saying the production “automatically lifts the medium into a new sphere of cultural importance.” The Hallmark Hall of Fame continues to do so … It’s a girl (name to come) born Thursday at Cedars-Sinai, for WB production VP Courtney Valenti and husband-artist Patrick Roberts. The happy first-time grandparents are Mary Margaret and Jack Valenti … Before the start of the Emmys Sunday, ATAS prez Jim Chapin will intro, in the audience, 45 members of the L.A. Fire Dept. Search & Rescue team, back from volunteering at the WTC.