GOOD MORNING: Sumner Redstone and Paula Fortunato will wed in April at Temple Emanu-el in N.Y. He happily tells me he and his bride-to-be (“formerly a third-grade school teacher”) are having an “engagement” party Sunday at the home of her sister, Lillian Gisweeli, in Mount Vernon, N.J., and friends are winging in from all points, Hollywood, of course, represented by Sherry Lansing, Jonathan Dolgen and Sumner’s close friend Bob Evans. The latter did not get married at the Rio fest as was rumored (elsewhere). However, he was accompanied by Leslie Ann Williams, who was also with him at the Cannes fest. When I asked Evans whether he and Williams are also planning to wed, he said, “She makes me feel good and is sensational,” but no wedding plans here.” Michele Lee and Fred Rappoport are living apart. But she tells me they are not talking divorce. “We care deeply about each other.” They’ve been married 15 years. She has a large home in Holmby Hills (L.A.), but has been spending much of her time in N.Y., the past few years starring in “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife.” And she says she wants to continue spending time there as son David Farentino is acting there. As a break from all of this, Lee winged to Cancun Wednesday to join the Creative Coalition Group fund-raising group.
WHILE JIM BROLIN IS BUSY running for president on ”The West Wing,” you can bet that his son Josh Brolin, playing Sen. William “Bill” Sterling Jr. on NBC’s mid-season “Mister Sterling,” will not seek the nation’s highest office. I get that emphatically from executive producer and show creator Lawrence O’Donnell Jr. “There’s a myth that all senators want to run for president,” O’Donnell says. And he should know — he worked in the Senate seven years for Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) “Many senators can tell you how much they don’t want to be president. And their spouses say they’d divorce their senator-husbands if they became president.” While the Universal TV show has re-created the Russell Senate Office building on the lot, Senate chambers cannot be reproduced — nor can they shoot within them — but there is always “West Wing’s” repro of the White House. O’Donnell left “West Wing” (where he was an Emmy and Humanitas winner) to develop “Mister Sterling,” a story written in 1992 as a spec feature script. But he does say, “I owe (“West Wing’s”) Aaron Sorkin — and television owes Aaron Sorkin an enormous debt. He showed how to dramatize television differently. What he’s opened up is immeasurable.” But O’Donnell makes considerable use of his experience as Sen. Moynihan’s chief of staff. In the series, Audra McDonald “has my job,” he says. “And she is the only one we brought to the network for the job — she is magnificent.” The three-time Tony winner takes time also between segs to concert — one of her solo dates is at Carnegie Hall Nov. 2 in Issac Stern Auditorium … Josh Brolin plays a senator whose views keep one guessing — in the pilot, for instance, he agrees with Roe vs. Wade, and he notes Alaskan oil drilling will avoid ditto operations off the coast of California. O’Donnell reminds, “Everyone in the Senate has conflicting sets of beliefs. I’ve been there and I know.” When I asked whether there’d be romance for the handsome Josh, O’Donnell said, “Well, we have a single, unmarried senator — .” Any scandals planned? “There’s enough in the newspapers — I don’t have any scandal ideas in my head.” The only regret O’Donnell has about starting the series, “I have to skip my (weekly) appearance on ‘The McLaughlin Group’, ” on which he served as senior political analyst. His Democratic stand here will be missed. … Today in D.C. Jack Valenti debates Lawrence Lessig, the lead counsel trying to scrap the copyright law of 1998. PBS will air.
A SUNSET STRIP LANDMARK, Le Dome restaurant is now closed but will reopen in spring after a “compete overhaul,” Eddy Kerkhofs, president, assures me. He has a new partner Robert Kass (son of the late Ron Kass, who was married to Joan Collins). “We are celebrating our 25th anniversary,” Kerkhofs says, “with a complete overhaul — the place will be gutted — and $2 million will be spent in the remodel. It will have a whole new decor but the food will not change, continuing our policy of good food and good service.” They have a lease on the property until 2013–with an option to extend … Among the happiest celebrants over Elvis Presley’s newfound succe$$ — Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber. They have four tunes on “Elvis 30 No. 1 Hits” (RCA): “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Don’t,” and “She’s Not You.” … Corky Hale (Mrs. Mike Stoller) will produce “The Boulevard of Broken Dreams” at the Cocoanut Grove Playhouse, bowing Feb. 14 with Kay Cole directing the show with tunes including “Lullaby of B’way,” “42nd Street,” “Tiptoe Thru The Tulips,” etc … Elmer Bernstein didn’t know what he could do for an encore Wednesday night at Royal Albert Hall after his 80th birthday concert, batoning many of his hit film themes. The audience had risen for a second standing ovation and Michael Aspel strode on stage with the definitive red book and announced, “This is your life, Elmer Bernstein.” He was totally non-plussed as he talked to me afterward. “I didn’t know what I could do for a second encore — when this is your life happened!” Bernstein says he has no plans to quit working.