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Angels bring Eisner euphoria

GOOD MORNING: “I’m trying to figure out who to cast to play Adam Kennedy,” Michael Eisner laughingly told me Monday morning — the Monday morning after the Anaheim Angel’s Adam Kennedy hit three home runs, the final blast to put the Halos ahead in the seventh en route to the 13-5 rout — and a berth in the World Series. Eisner’s euphoria continued as he said, “If someone came to me with this script — a team starting the season with a 4-16 record — and ends up in the World Series, I’d say ‘Get out of here!’ This (the Angels’ win) — it’s completely Disneyesque! And this team personifies the sign we have over our headquarters in Burbank and in Florida — ‘Team Disney’. And that’s what we had there at Edison Field — team spirit and that’s what we want to instill everywhere.” Of course, I then had to ask Eisner about the oft-reported pending sale of the Angels? “We want to protect the Anaheim landscape; with the hockey and baseball teams, the Convention Center has doubled.” And so he insists, whoever buys the Angels it will have to remain “the Anaheim Angels, and it will have to be quality ownership.” He was equally enthusiastic about the additions to Disney’s California Adventure, saying “I think we’ve turned the corner there — as well as with ABC.” … But it was “the Cowboy” — Gene Autry — who received thanks from fans in the stands for having made the team a reality. (He bought the expansion franchise in 1961; he died Oct.2, 1998). They held up signs throughout the series with the Yankees and the Twins, proclaiming their appreciation to the Cowboy for their presence at Edison, and now, the trail into the World Series. I knew the cowboy through his unparalleled career — movie-TV star, recording superstar, radio and TV stations and hotels owner. Although the years took their toll, whenever I saw him in a crowd or at an intimate dinner, he always wore his 10-gallon hat — always heroic white … Sunday, the champagne flowed over the Angels’ team, also dousing Jackie Autry, the Cowboy’s widow. She told me, “I wish the Cowboy was here to have the champagne poured over him.” Ah, he would have loved to have made it to baseball’s big leagues, having played on several semi-pro teams. But he was a major leaguer in showbiz and today, 91 of his feature films, and half-hour TV shows have been restored digitally and are available on VHS and DVD — and are also shown regularly on Encore.

MEANWHILE, OVER AT THE 2,000-SEAT Hyperion Theater in Disney’s California Adventure, I spoke with an equally exuberant Anne Hamburger, Disney exec VP of Creative Entertainment. She reports that composer Alan Menken, who composed the music for the scores of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast,” has created a new song, “To Be Free,” for “Disney’s “Aladdin — Live On Stage,” a new Broadway-calibre musical based on the animated film … It will open Dec. 9 — free — to the public at the California Adventure. She says a double cast of 32 will perform the show four times a day, seven days a week. The Royal National Theater and L.A. Opera director Francesca Zambello directs with B’way choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett. Among stars set are B’way’s Roxanne Taga and Liz Young alternating as Jasmine and Michael Lee and Miles Tuttle-Wesley as Aladdin … And from the Golden Gate Theater in San Francisco, another happy performer is Tony Curtis who called to exude his joy on completing his 100th performance in (the Joe E. Brown role) in the legit musicalized “Some Like It Hot.” He is now skedded to play through May with dates in Denver, Detroit, Chicago, etc., winding at the Aladdin in Las Vegas and — ? “I’m 77. I get standing ovations, I feel good — Jilly looks after me. I get movie offers — I don’t need them, I’m making a lot of moolah. Besides I can’t do both and — I’ve already done over 100 movies!”

DID FLORIDA GOV. JEB BUSH’S ratings in the upcoming November election fall 6%-8% because of the statewide showings of the docu “Unprecedented”? That’s what exec producer Robert Greenwald says he’d like to think of his first docu (after 41 features). “The film is an expose of the voting rights violations in Florida. It’s a permanent record,” Greenwald says. Among sponsors of the showings in Florida, he says, were the Barbra Streisand and Alan Horn foundations. After tonight’s DGA screening , a panel including People for the American Way pres Ralph G. Neas, Vincent Bugliosi and the docu’s producers Joan Selser and Richard Perez will discuss “the ramifications of the 2000 election and the implications for the health of the democracy.” … Next for Greenwald is the CBS Enron story, “The Crooked E,” slated for Nov. sweeps with Mike Farell as Ken Lay and Brian Dennehy as a composite of the exex at Enron … Adam Sandler will debut his third Chanukah song as he sings/hosts “Saturday Night Live” Nov. 16 in advance of the bow of his animated “Eight Crazy Nights.” And by that time, his “Punch-Drunk Love” will have opened wide following its box office-busting limited bows over the weeks preceding.

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