GOOD MORNING: Steven Spielberg and Shimon Peres, onetime prime minister and foreign minister of Israel, had not read Tuesday’s Daily Variety‘s story in which CBS’ Les Moonves reiterated the Web would air the mini about a young Hitler. Spielberg and Peres were touring the Shoah Foundation housed in five trailers given by Lew Wasserman and located on the back lot at Universal. Spielberg showed Peres the work in progress — testimonies of 52,000 Holocaust survivors in 37 languages are being cataloged by more than 100 workers for dissemination worldwide. I called the CBS-Hitler news story to Spielberg’s attention and I added (perhaps caustically), “Don’t worry, Moonves added that the network will make a charitable contribution to a Holocaust memorial charity in conjunction with the pic’s broadcast.” Of Peres’ three-hour visit at the Shoah Foundation, Spielberg told me, ” I believe he was moved — particularly by the stories of (then) children. He spoke to one translator who came from the same Russian town as his family. Everything (Peres) said was eloquent, emotional and poetic.” Spielberg admits that the Foundation “is the second most important work I have ever done — next to having children.” Peres asked Spielberg to be a part of a documentary series being produced in Israel. It’s about an outreach program for Israeli and Palestinian children to come together. Spielberg agreed to be an adviser. “Hate is an acquired trait,” he reminded. “The greatest weapon — and tool — is the lens and how you use it” … He has also been invited to Israel to receive an honorary degree from the Hebrew University where Israeli and Arabs study together in peace — tragically — and temporarily interrupted last year by a terrorist bomber … On his professional film front, Spielberg leaves Jan. 25 for “Catch Me If You Can” preems in Berlin, London, Paris and Rome in succeeding days. Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio wing with him. Leo is only recently back from a similar press push (for “Gangs of New York”). “He’ll have so many frequent flyer miles,” Spielberg laughed. And as for his next film. Spielberg admitted, “I don’t have one — yet.” But he plans to go to work every day — at DreamWorks — “as a producer.”
ADD AN OK FOR ANOTHER revealing look at the Holocaust: Frank Pierson tells me HBO this week gave a go-ahead for the start of “Complicity,” about the U.S. denying entrance for threatened Eastern European Jews, 1943-1944. Pierson’s earlier film, “Conspiracy,” about Hitler’s planned extermination of the Jews, was an Emmy winner as was scripter Loring Mandel, who will also pen “Complicity.” “It will rattle a lot of people,” Pierson promises. “The good old boys of the State Dept. were definitely anti-Semitic.” They KO’d the financial aid OK’d by the Treasury Dept.’s Henry Morgenthau, but by the time the State Dept. cleared it a year later, it was too late. Those awaiting entrance to the U.S. had been taken to death camps … Meanwhile, Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” received a huge rave in the Jerusalem Post, with William E. Grim calling the film, “undoubtedly the greatest Holocaust film of all time,” adding “‘The Pianist’ is a testament to the indefatigable spirit of life that refuses to go gentle into the night.” He also notes Adrien Brody’s performance as “stunning.” I talked to Brody, who is finally back up to his normal weight of 160, having lost 30 pounds to portray pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman. He has several films now awaiting release, ‘Dummy,” “Love The Hard Way,” and “The Singing Detective,” but admits it is difficult now to find something to follow “The Pianist” and director Roman Polanski “whose guidance and understanding of the loss and suffering made it all possible.” Brody is now busy composing (on his electronic keyboard) with his music “inspired by growing up in New York.”
“ALADDIN,” THE NEWEST DISNEY cartoon-inspired subject to segue to stage from screen, bows tonight at the new Hyperion Theater at Disney’s California Adventure where composer Alan Menken will receive a 24-karat gold-plated Aladdin’s lamp from Michael Eisner. Menken, who wrote the score for the original animated feature, added a new song for this version. A big bash for more than 1,200 follows tonight — with belly dancers and other exotic Arabian night acts … Sheriff Lee Baca and L.A. County district attorney Steve Cooley were among those who gave Scott Glenn a standing ovation at the Beverly Wilshire when he was awarded by Culver City-based Beit T’Shuvah for helping the organization’s work to treat Jewish men and women recovering from various addictive disorders. Scott converted to Judaism 34 years ago before marrying wife Carol … Steve Guttenberg produced, stars in, wrote and directed the film “P.S. Your Cat is Dead.” He says, “I’ve put $2 million worth of quarters in the slot machine and Friday I pull the handle” … And Friday, Lee Meriwether is honored at the Sportsmen’s Lodge by the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters.