‘Boys Town,’ Tracy celebrated

GOOD MORNING: While Hollywood, New York and other showbiz centers are recalling the longtime Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy romance thanks to A. Scott Berg’s “Kate Remembered,” the scene shifts to Omaha, Neb., this week. Specifically to Girls and Boys Town where Spencer’s son John (79) accompanied by 27 extended-family members are helping to celebrate the 65th anniversary of MGM’s “Boys Town” for which Tracy won an Oscar. (He won the previous year for his role in “Captain’s Courageous.”) Tracy donated his “Boys Town” Oscar to Father Flanagan, founder of Boys Town. It sits in the Hall of History in Omaha. Although he suffers from Usher syndrome, John Tracy remains very verbal and is delighted by the celebration, I am informed by reps at the facility. The weeklong celebration culminates Friday when they roll out the red carpet for the visiting family members who arrived via a caravan of RVs. “He (Tracy) was so important to our heritage,” a rep reminded me. Mickey Rooney, who starred with Tracy in the Norman Taurog-directed classic, tells me he and wife Jan will be on hand for the Friday event. The duo is now appearing in a film, “A Christmas Too Many,” locationing in L.A. and Canada. But he and Father Val Peter have been doing interviews in L.A. for 19 facilities for troubled children. I asked Mickey if he was familiar with the Tracy-Hepburn relationship during his longtime contract stand at MGM which included the sequel with Tracy “Men of Boys Town.” Rooney says he never saw them together — until she visited Tracy on “It’s a Mad, (4) World” (1961) in which Mickey again co-starred.

MARTIN SCORSESE’S “The Aviator” has taken off in Montreal with Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes and a cast that includes Alan Alda as Senator Brewster and Frances Conroy of “Six Feet Under” as Katharine Hepburn’s mother, Kit. Hepburn is played by Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale is Ava Gardner, Gwen Stefani is Jean Harlow and Alec Baldwin is Juan Tripp… Michael Caine wings to L.A. from London Aug.7 for five days to attend New Line’s junket of “Secondhand Lions” involving domestic and foreign press. Howcum? It’s the only time that Robert Duvall and Haley Joel Osment are available. In the film, Caine reminds me, he plays a Texan brother of Duvall’s. “He’ll have to return the favor and someday play my Cockney brother.” The ever-busy Caine has just completed “The Actors,” in which he plays an actor in the role of “Richard II.” And in France, he completed “The Statement” as a Nazi Frenchman. I asked about anti-American feelings on those locations: “The French even kidded me when I ordered ‘French fries’ at dinner. They said I should have ordered ‘Freedom fries.’ I never encountered anything anti-American. But then again, I speak perfect French.” One project he’s interested in calls for him to play a psychiatrist to a young boy who suffers from fantasy hallucinations. Or are they? He will be honored for his achievements April 26 by the Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall with 70 minutes of film clips and toasts by his many colleagues.

GIL CATES AND LOUIS HORVITZ, who received eight Emmy noms for their credits as producer and director respectively for the critically-praised 75th Oscar show, will reunion this week in New York to huddle with CBS about the web’s 75th anni show. Horvitz got word of his Emmy noms last week while at the Ischia Global Film and Music Festival. Horvitz, who studied the great Italian film directors while at UCLA, says he’s been approached to do a film — but frankly admits he can’t take the year and a half minimum to do one — as he’s got a regular, hefty program of TV specials. These include again directing the Emmys, for which he’s also nominated. (He once had to leave the booth to accept a win!) And he’s also again directing “An Evening of Stars” for the United Negro College Fund…With his Emmy nom, Paul Newman probably rates a nod in the Guinness Book of World Records: in the past 12 months, he’s been nommed for the Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Golden Globe. Additionally, his race team, Newman-Haas, won this year’s National Cart Racing Championship and he himself finished in first place in a race at Limerock, Conn., on March 6. …During our recent vacation we had delightful dining experiences at two of London’s finest eateries: savoring Gordon Ramsay’s creations at Claridge’s and Angela Hartnett’s cuisine at the Connaught. Too bad the U.S. dollar didn’t go farther! A disappointment was London’s Ivy because of the heavy patron smoking. …Another happy remembrance of our travel to and fro was the superb service and attention by British Airways.

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