Friars fete Spelling at gala

GOOD MORNING: Among Aaron Spelling’s upcoming projects: an HBO series about a Jersey mob of Mafia eunuchs, “The Falsettos”; a network series, “Make Room for Puff Daddy”; a prison-set sitcom, “Oz and Harriet”; a MOW, “John Bobbitt in ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ “; a game show, ” Who Wants to Be A Mohel?”; another series, “Sabrina, The Teenage Yenta.” It was, of course, Red Buttons headlining the (BevHills) Friars’ Lifetime Achievement Award gala honoring Spelling at the BevHilton Wednesday. Buttons had just returned from Toronto guestarring in the very dramatic “Street Time” for Showtime. Nothing could be more drama-filled than the rest of the Friar’s evening (which raised more than $500,000 for its various charities). Spelling himself frail, admitted in his acceptance speech, “I did not know Norm (Crosby) had the same thing I have.” Crosby, who had preceded at the microphone, has completed his chemotherapy and other treatments for cancer. The Friars had delayed the Spelling dinner from its original Sept. 14 date to give Spelling time to regain strength … Crosby admitted to me, “I shouldn’t be here — I won’t do another thing for a month.” Although he was worried about his voice, Crosby was brilliant, his voice strong in a strictly serious tribute to Spelling via a parodied Gettysburg address: “Three score and some odd years ago the Spelling family brought forth upon this continent a new person, conceived in genius and dedicated to the proposition that all television shows are not created equal.” And “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here but it can never forget what he has done here. It is for us rather to be dedicated to a greater appreciation for all that Aaron Spelling represents. It is for us rather to be here dedicated to a new birth of gratitude for all that Aaron Spelling has given to our industry — and that Aaron Spelling television, television of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the Earth.” Crosby delivered sans prompter, notes, cue cards.

UNSCRIPTED DRAMATIC MOMENTS started in the VIP pre-show Versailles room of the BevHilton when Jack Carter had to be rushed to the hospital by wife Roxanne when he noted bleeding. When I spoke to him (at the hospital) he said he was awaiting tests today to ascertain the cause. Carter’s confident he’ll be OK — he’s to be honored by the Friars Nov. 9 with the Friars’ Freddie Roman winging out from the N.Y. Club to head the tribute. A short while after the Spelling tribute dinner started, Jolene Schlatter fainted and husband George Schlatter, producer of the show, rushed her to the emergency room of the Century City Hospital where she underwent tests. George, of course, remained with her — never saw the show he produced. It included the above-mentioned Buttons and Crosby appearances plus a generous program by Diahann Carroll, a toasting (roasting) by Don Rickles, Monty Hall as auctioneer, Robbie Britt, who sang “Proud To be an American,” presentation of the award to Spelling by dinner chairman Sumner Redstone, remarks by dinner co-chairman Steve Wynn, welcome by Friars president/dean Irwin Schaeffer announcing more than $500,000 had been raised for the various charities. Larry King m.c’d and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance and singing “God Bless America,” opening-closing the evening respectively.

I SHOULDA GOTTEN A ROOM at the BevHilton: tonight it’s the “Fiesta Latinoamericana” in the same (as above) International Ballroom where the Young Musicians Foundation honors Merv Griffin with its Magic Baton Award, presented to him by David Foster while Raquel Welch presents the humanitarian award to Gregory Nava. Merv will play the piano with a medley of Tchaikovsky themes and he’ll also sing “The More I See You,” one of the tunes on his new CD, “It’s Like a Dream.” The YMF’s 50-piece orchestra will back some special guests, including Poncho Sanchez on congas, Foster’s 19-year-old protege Josh Groban singing “Gira Con Me” and “The Prayer,” and brilliant YMF flautist Abel del Gado. Carl (or should I call him Carlos) Reiner m.c’s. Reiner was on the same stage seven years ago presenting Hank Mancini his award. He tripped, ripped his kneecap and was taken by paramedics to Cedars-Sinai — and then in rehab for nine months … Tonight the YMF opens the evening with “The Star Spangled Banner” and winds with “Amazing Grace” … Ken Kragen and wife Cathy Worthington opened their home for a “friend-raiser” for the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation — which has donated $6 million worth of instruments to programs and individuals in the U.S. … Debbie Allen, Angela Bassett, Whoopi Goldberg and Patrick Swayze host the opening night performance of N.Y.’s Complexions dance troupe making its bow at the Ahmanson Nov. 1. Pauletta Pearson Washington, Denzel W’s. wife, makes a one-toe performance opening night … The Nov. 6 bow of Arnie Morton’s of Chicago’s eatery in downtown L.A. (735 S. Figueroa) benefits the AFI. Arnie’s owner, Allen J. Bernstein, is a movie fan/buff and pals of Jean Firstenberg … And the 40th anni of the re-release of “Exodus” kicks off its international tour Monday at the Acad with Dustin Hoffman m.c.’ing, Arthur Hiller making presentations … Dec. 5 will be proclaimed “Grace Moore Day” in L.A. — it’s the 100th anniversary of her birth … I’m taking a week’s vacation and will be back in the office Nov. 5.

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