GOOD MORNING: I have been concerned about “Hitler: The Rise of Evil,” CBS’ upcoming two-parter, since the initial announcement of production. In subsequent questionings with Leslie Moonves, he tried to reassure me of the judiciousness of making the movie and what its effect would or would not be — while reminding me of his own family’s Holocaust history. Fade in to the recent firing of Ed Gernon, producer of the “Hitler” mini, following his remarks comparing the era of early Hitler to today’s America under Bush. I again asked Moonves about the judgment of airing the show in times of increasing anti-Semitism. His answer: “It shows Hitler as evil incarnate from the word go.” As for Gernon’s removal from the mini, Moonves also assured it was justifiable, “And I’m farther to the left than you are,” he laughed. . . Moonves was among those toasting Brad Grey, recipient of the David Niven Award at Project ALS’ Friends Finding a Cure gala at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, where $1.5 million was raised to help find that cure. As promised, the especially warm tribute evening wound before 10 p.m., and that included a generous performance by Paul Simon and company, finale’d by being joined by the Crenshaw High School Choir. Grey’s loving remarks about his grandfather, who had ALS, put a truly emotional touch to the super-glamorously decorated ballroom packed with an equally glamorous guest list . . . Annette Bening, with husband Warren Beatty, said she’s readying to go to Budapest and Prague to star in “Being Julia” for director Istvan Szabo, producers Robert Lantos and Julia Rosenberg. And Beatty, when asked when he’d start his Howard Hughes biopic in view of one being readied by Leonardo DiCaprio and another by Jim Carrey, smiled, “I’m warming up” . . . Lara Flynn Boyle tossed herself a (33rd) birthday party at an estate in the Los Feliz area. Guests were asked to come as “old Hollywood” stars. She came (stag) as Ava Gardner, her mom Sally as Elizabeth Taylor, Maeve Quinlan as Grace Kelly — and she looks remarkably like her! — Molly Simms as Eva Gabor, Enrique Marciano as Clark Gable. Boyle and “The Practice” troupe start filming the series’ last two segs today with Bobby (Dylan McDermott) departing the firm — and his marriage. Both to air May 5, 9-11 p.m.
THE OSCARS, MICKEY MOUSE and I are all celebrating our 75th anniversary,” Shirley Temple laughingly told me as she readies for her birthday Wednesday. “It’s no big deal,” she added. Meanwhile, Danbury Mint is releasing another Shirley Temple collectible, an anniversary plate featuring pictures of her in famous film roles. She approves of them very much. Shirley continues to write her next autobiog, which starts when she goes to the U.N. in the 1960s. She’s now written up to 1974 . . . I caught up with Elaine Stritch at midnight Tuesday — on the phone from her hotel suite. That’s when she likes to do interviews — and on her day off from her “At Liberty” show at the Ahmanson. “It’s a very tough job,” she admitted, “and there’s no escape.” And there’s no escape from the diabetes over which she maintains a very strict check. She’s more than pleased with the effect her performance has on those who have been afflicted with that — and drinking. Letters like “You’ve changed my life” make it all worthwhile for her. Stritch, 77, continues this show until the end of July, after which she’ll lay off for a while — mebbe play the college circuit. Retire? “Are you kidding? I need to work — it uses up my energy. The only time I relax is when I work. I want to do a play, not a musical. And I want to do some movies.”
WHILE OLIVER STONE’S PIX about current international leaders are getting a switch in HBO airings — “Commandante,” the Fidel Castro interviews, is tabled until further notice and his “Persona Non Grata,” with Palestinian and Israeli leader interviews, now gets a June 5 airdate (as of today) — Stone is in Paris working on his historical epic “Alexander the Great” . . . The Wall Street Journal’s Web site pays tribute to columnist Tom King Friday with a retro of his Hollywood columns. I was proud to have made the front page of the WSJ in a lengthy interview by King on Jan. 21, 1993, when King was only 29 years old and had the same enthusiasm for writing a column as I had when I started at Daily Variety on April 24, 1953. A memorial service for King is planned in L.A. by the paper, which is deeply grieved — as I am . . . Bob Hope’s 100th birthday (May 29) got an early celebration Tuesday on Hollywood Boulevard, where his special plaque was unveiled and Universal officially launched the release of the Bob Hope DVD Tribute Collection . . . Johnny Grant is toasted on his 80th birthday May 10 in the Grand Ballroom of Hollywood & Highland, when Johnny will again gather celebs to entertain troops for yet another war on his ribbon-decked chest… Universal Studios Theme Parks Hollywood, Florida and Japan will bow “Shrek 4D” this summer simultaneously. The animated story picks up where the first ends and boasts the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow. It’s in Ogrevision animation and “Sensory Immersion” by PDI/DreamWorks and Universal Creative. Meanwhile, the “Spider-Man Rocks,” “live” show at the parks continues SRO as “Spider-Man 2” readies to face the cameras . . . Scott Marshall, son of Garry Marshall, and wife Elissa welcomed a son, Sam James Marshall, April 1 at Cedars-Sinai. Scott is second unit director on father Garry’s “Raising Helen,” as well as on “The Princess Diaries” and “Runaway Bride” . . . The FBI’s Brent A. Braun is being toasted at a retirement party Friday at the Encino Glen Golf Course (restaurant). Braun’s no stranger to Hollywood, having helped many of its citizenry (for 25 years!) in varied way — and as technical adviser (gratis) on dozens of film projects including his most recent feature, “The Hunted” Agent Sandy Bresler is recuping at St. John’s Hospital after sextuple bypass.