Stone frustrated with ‘Persona Non Grata’

GOOD MORNING: “It should really be called ‘Frustration’,” Oliver Stone describes his docu “Persona Non Grata,” which he introduces at a screening at noon Wednesday at N.Y.’s Council on Foreign Relations. It will be followed by a discussion by former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres with the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen. “He (Peres) loved it ” said Stone who is justly proud of the eloquent and generous Peres participation on the piece whose final note about “educating the children” is perhaps the key to the entire salvation of this conflict. Yasser Arafat did not grant an interview although Stone comes close several times. However, the Palestinian point of view is more than amply aired by others — including terrorist “Freedom Fighters” — in the film. About the lack of an Arafat interview, Stone says, “He’s always the same, anyhow.” But the frustration of trying to settle the Israeli-Palestinian problem is even evident in closeups of Stone himself as he conducts interviews. He intelligently reminds that “Although the war in Iraq has ended, it has not in the Middle East.” HBO airs “Persona Non Grata” June 5, preceded by a D.C. screening Friday at the Washington Institute and Council on Foreign Relations. It will also be screened at the Tribeca Film Festival where Stone’s other project, “Commandante” about Castro has been removed from the sked. As to the doc’s future, Stone is still in discussions with HBO and says, “I am not the type who gives up.” Stone steps back — or it is it up? — in history as he now readies to film “Alexander the Great” with a September start date.

IS A NEW HOLLYWOOD WITCH HUNTING era starting? First it was the cancellation of the Baseball Hall of Fame appearance of Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. Then Cindy Williams (“Laverne & Shirley” co-star-plus) was almost uninvited last week to ceremony for Bob Hope on Hollywood Boulevard, which was attended by many members of the Armed Forces — all because of an erroneous Internet story. Per Cindy: “It seems two years ago, a Cindy Williams, who is a senior research fellow at MIT (and who was assistant director for national security in the Congressional Budget Office from 1994-1997) wrote an op-ed piece printed in the Washington Post denouncing a pay raise for the military. Someone put this article and a rebuttal from an airman on the Internet asking that they forward it to everyone they knew. The trouble began when the Internet sender credited the article to Cindy Williams of ‘Laverne & Shirley.’ Because of the mistaken identity I am receiving hate mail and letters from people saying how disappointed they are in me. I have fought this thing for more than two years , but it seems there is no end in sight. Because it has spread even to the N.Y. Fire Dept., American Legion (a very nasty article) and the military community. I’m heartsick over this because I am a patriot and I stand behind our brave, young men and women and, may I say, if I could I would give them a raise myself.” Cindy, who has an enviable record in front of the camera as well as being one of the producers of the Steve Martin starring feature “Father of the Bride” and “Father of the Bride Part II,” is also prepping another feature as well as a sitcom series. And as an involved citizen supports “Feed The Children,” the National Safe Kids Council, the American Humane Society and the ASPCA.

THE AFI’S LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT tribute to Robert De Niro, June 12 at the Kodak, will have a June 23 USA airdate. Billy Crystal will open the salute and Martin Scorsese will close the intros to the honoree. And in between (so far) are Leonardo DiCaprio, Harvey Keitel, Chazz Palminteri, Ben Stiller, Don Rickles, Joe Pesci, Juliette Lewis and Edward Norton. Bob Gazzale will exec produce and Louis J. Horvitz directs. Meanwhile the AFI’s Silver Theater and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Md., which was christened by Clint Eastwood April 4, with one of his favorite pics, William Wellman’s “The Ox-Bow Incident,” has to date attracted 2,500 AFI Silver Charter Members for the state-of-the-art complex … Robin Williams intro’d (he did a half-hour!) the authors-on-music group, the Remainders, at SanFran’s Fillmore, which raised $100,000. And the group, with Steve Martin on banjo and hosting, raised another charity-bound $65,000 at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, Saturday with the dough going to America Scores, an after-school creative writing/soccer program. The Remainders authors take a week off writing for their own version of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp … The “Temple of the Air,” was launched Thursday at the BevHills’ Four Seasons Hotel with an SRO dinner screening of its first program created by the Temple Shalom for the Arts’ Rabbi David Baron. The DVD (or tape) will be available to the homebound, the nation’s Jewish Homes for the Aging as well as to the public and will be also screened on Hallmark Oct. 5, Yom Kippur Eve. The initial program was funded by Allen and Anita Kohl and the Bob and Bobbie Stern families. Among those seen on the TV program are: Jason Alexander, Mary Hart, Leonard Maltin, the late Nell Carter and Monty Hall (who also m.c’d the launch party), Theo Bikel (who also sang and accompanied himself on guitar and dueted with Cantor Ilysia Pierce) and comedian Steve Landesberg of “Barney Miller.” The “Temple of the Air” follows with programs on Chanukah and Passover for those who are homebound — or not, as well. The aim is to distribute more than 1,000 tapes (or DVDs ) to the Homes for the Aging nationally.

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