9/11 inspires artistry

GOOD MORNING: Edie Wasserman, who, with her late husband, Lew, has been one of the staunchest supporters and most regular visitors to the Motion Picture & Television Country House & Hospital, was back there Wednesday — this time with first-time visitor Sidney Sheldon, who read this poem he’d written after 9/11. Herewith: “The eagle soars and flies in peace/And casts its shadow wide/Across the land, across the seas/Across the far-flung skies./The foolish think the eagle weak/And easy to bring to heel/The eagle’s wings are silken/But its claws are made of steel./The Eagle stands for freedom/May we never let it die/And give thanks for all our blessings/As we watch the eagle fly.” … Meanwhile, preparations for Showtime’s “D.C. 9/11” have taken on even more emotion following the first-anniversary commemorations. The TV’er is the story of what went on in Washington (including the White House) from Sept. 11, 2001, to President Bush’s speech before the joint Houses of Congress. Lionel Chetwynd, who produces with Edgar J. Scherick, says his script “places more demands for authenticity than anything I’ve ever touched in the 30-40 docudramas I’ve written-produced.” Chetwynd, a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities, has had conversations with the president, but not yet “interviewed” him for the show (in which he as well as solons will be portrayed by actors). Chetwynd is scripting other tales of Americana: “The Deerfield Massacre,” a feature for Columbia on a 1703 chapter of our history, and for USA, William Manchester’s “Goodbye Darkness,” his story of the South Pacific battles of WWII … Harry Thomason is busy trying to edit down 90 hours to 90 minutes for his Regent Entertainment docu on Bill Clinton, “The Hunting of the President” … Mike Wallace admitted his interview with Nancy Reagan, aired Wednesday night on CBS’ “60 Minutes 2,” was one of the most difficult and emotional for him. Wallace dates back to a friendship in Chi with Nancy’s mother, actress Edith Davis … Nancy Reagan will present the MPTF’s Mary Pickford Achievement Award to longtime friend Merv Griffin Oct. 9 at the Screen Smart Set luncheon-fashion show at the Beverly Wilshire … Budd Friedman is donating NBC’s licensing fee for the second airing (Oct. 6) of “Diet Coke With Lemon Celebrates 40 Years of Laughter at the Improv” to the MPTV Fund.

“BLAZING SADDLES” or “Young Frankenstein” — which will be the next musical B’way outing for Mel Brooks? He meets in two weeks in L.A. with Thomas Meehan, who co-wrote “The Producers’ ” book with Mel (who also wrote the music and lyrics). The duo is celebrating the hefty success of “Producers’ ” first stop on its road tour in Pittsburgh. L.A. previews start April 29 with a May 29 bow at the Pantages, starring Jason Alexander and Martin Short. Mel’s most proud of Emmy-winning (“SNL”) son Max’s latest accomplishment: Crown will publish (Halloween ’03) his book, “The Zombie Survival Guide — Complete Protection From the Living Dead” … Abrams is publishing ace photog Murray Garrett’s priceless (but $35) “Hollywood Moments,” his unique (duotone) photos of royalty in Hollywood’s heyday. There’s even one pic of yours truly with Dick Powell at the 1952 post-Oscars party at Chasen’s.

ROSEMARY CLOONEY’S LIFE AND CAREER will be celebrated Dec. 10 at the Beverly Hilton, with Merv Griffin hosting. Among those performing: Tony Bennett, Debby Boone, Nick Clooney, Rosie’s husband Dante DiPaolo, Michael Feinstein, Mimi Hines, Diana Krall, Bucky Pizzarelli, John Pizzarelli Jr., Linda Ronstadt, Jimmy Webb, John Bayless, T Bone Burnett, Sam Phillips, Matt Catingub, the Earl Brown Singers, the Bing Crosby family. Rosie’s children are organizing the event, with proceeds donated to the Mayo Clinic Rosemary Clooney Pulmonary Research Fund. She underwent cancer surgery there in January and continued under their care until May. She died at home in BevHills June 29. Rosie was a singer’s singer and always a singer’s friend. For reservations, call (310) 996-1188 … The new general manager of the Palm in West Hollywood is Scott Fickling. He succeeds Gigi Delmaestro, who died of cancer July 13 … The Motion Picture Hall of Fame will take up its site at the corner of Hollywood and Vine with Robert Alexander as president-CEO … L.A. Mayor James Hahn will proclaim Oct. 5 as Carl Wilson Day at the fifth annual Carl Wilson Walk Against Cancer … All seven original members are celebrating the 33rd anni of Sha Na Na; next month they’ll release their first Christmas album, on Pat Boone’s Gold Label, featuring an original single, “Santa’s on a Diet” … Blackstone Audio is releasing Jimmy Hawkins’ “Wonderful Memories of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ ” Hawkins played Jimmy Stewart’s son Tommy Bailey in the Capra classic. He presented the first copy to Argentina Brunetti (she played Mrs. Martini) on her 95th birthday.

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