Nightline to explore ‘Mind’ disease

GOOD MORNING — AND GOOD LUCK: For its final program pre-Oscars, tonight’s “Nightline” on ABC looks at “A Beautiful Mind.” No, the “Nightline” producers didn’t specifically wait to give the film airtime until after the final Oscar ballots were in. “It never occurred to us to do that,” says exec producer Leroy Sievers. But producer Joe O’Connor had earlier interviewed producer Brian Grazer as well as John Nash biographer Sylvia Nasar while the polls were open. “Nightline” does not delve into any of the “dirty tricks” of the Oscar campaign — no mention of claims of anti-Semitism or homosexuality — at least not as of my conversation Thursday with “Nightline’s” Sievers. “The show is taking a break from war, death and destruction” to look at the movie and the severe disease of schizophrenia with insight on the life of John Nash — plus a Chicago family that O’Connor found who struggle to live with the debilitating brain disease without a support system. As Grazer and Nasar explain on the show, Nash relied heavily on his wife and the protective environment of the Princeton U. campus. Ironically, “Nightline” producer Sievers told me he had spent two years at Princeton when Nash was teaching and was known to roam the halls making notes of various formulae. Grazer tells “Nightline,” “We wanted to present a three-dimensional reality for the viewer so that they’re feeling it on their highest level. And that, to us, would create the highest level of compassion toward John Nash.” … I asked Sievers about the morale at “Nightline,” post-Letterman rumblings. “It’s pretty good — so far so good,” he said. “We keep plugging away — letting our work speak for itself.” And let’s hope that work continues. They continue to pull no punches and have a two-parter coming up on oil and the Afghan war and the Arab summit. And a segment in a Jewish hospital in Jerusalem where a Palestinian patient is being treated in a bed next to an Israeli wounded by the latest Palestinian suicide bomber … Add another accolade for “A Beautiful Mind”: The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill has chosen the film as the “most outstanding contribution to public understanding of mental illness.”

OSCAR’S CIRQUE DU SOLEIL TROUPE, 29 strong, arrived Thursday at the Kodak from its Orlando, Fla., permanent rehearsal facilities to ready a four-minute seg for the Oscars. Chief choreographer Debra Brown tells me the performers have been chosen from five previous Cirque shows and will tribute films their way with film clips assembled by Doug Stewart and Lewis Cohen and music from the troupe’s “La Nouba” of 1999 composed by Benoit Jutras. Brown’s creating a new show, “Apogee,” to bow May 1 in Santa Barbara … Gil Cates, who has produced 10 Oscar shows, returns Sunday in time to attend the Oscars — he has been at sea with the Navy readying his CBSpecial “A Salute to the U.S. Military.” Cates will be at the Oscars with his son Gil Jr. who worked past Acad shows with him. Cates fils just preemed his first feature directing stint on “The Mesmerist” at the SXSW Film Fest in Austin, Texas. And next month he starts “A Midsummer’s Night Rave” — “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” set in a rave. The nation’s top DJs will guest … Nominee (“Sexy Beast”) Ben Kingsley hosts (today) a party debuting new paintings by Irish artist Patrick Morrison at Hollywood’s Les Deux Cafe on Las Palmas — down the street from the Kodak, where Kingsley will be Sunday night … Michael Caine’s in Dublin starring in “The Actor” for Miramax. Co-starring is Michael Gambon — so it’s a wee bit of a problem, laddies, when director Conor McPherson calls for — “Sir Michael.”

WEDDING BELLS RANG out March 9 in Copenhagen for Roger Moore and Kristina Tholstrup. Moore, a James Bond alumnus and a recent double agent for ABC’s “Alias,” is paged back to become a semi-regular on the series … Old production designers — just keep working. Production designer Henry Bumstead, 87, a two-time Oscar winner (“The Sting,” “To Kill a Mockingbird”), is production designing his 10th film for Clint Eastwood, “Blood Work.” Bumstead will be toasted April 27 at the USA FilmFest/Dallas … Miramax’s annual pre-Oscar event, the Max Awards, a hilarious takeoff on the nominated pix by their (nominated) stars, will be held this year at the Mondrian hotel … N.Y.’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg joins the N.Y. Oscar-viewers at Le Cirque — in time for dessert … Before leaving for Mexico, King Abdullah II of Jordan lunched with Rick Berman, “Star Trek” exec producer. The King, when he was a prince, appeared in a “Star Trek: Voyager” seg. A.C. Lyles also had a two-hour visit with the monarch, who probably will be back in L.A. for the April 29 bow of “Jordan: The Royal Tour” on the Travel Channel … Positive reports on “The Producers” with new leads Steven Weber and Henry Goodman from both Joel Grey and Ron Clark, who caught it this week. Clark was in N.Y. to present his new musical “My Wife’s Name Is Maurice” to prospective backers. Mel Brooks brought some of his producer pals to look-and-hear … Nicollette Sheridan, starring in Pax TV’s “Mary Higgins Clark’s Haven’t We Met Before” airing Saturday, is no stranger to exec producer Sonny Grosso — he was a technical adviser on “Kojak” starring Sheridan’s stepfather, Telly Savalas. Sheridan, as a little girl, intro’d Telly to his lollipop gimmick.

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