It was the studio where Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, Bill Holden and hundreds of award-winning movie and TV actors had worked on these stages — Columbia Studios.
On one of the same stages funeral services were held for the studio’s boss, feared by most, revered by others — Harry Cohn. Now it’s the Sunset Gower Studios, and Saturday night, its owners, Bob Papazian and Jim Hirsch donated it for the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s second annual “A Fine Romance — Hollywood and Broadway.”
The giant Stage 7 was converted for a live audience and live stage boasting Hollywood and Broadway’s best — and all for the MPTF. Over $750,000 was raised, reports Ken Scherer, CEO of the MPTF Foundation Chaired by Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Ann and Jim Gianopulos chaired the event and were also honored for their non-stop work for the industry charity and for bringing the MPTF to the attention of the new generations in the biz. Gianopulos, 20th Century-Fox Co-Chairman, had originally tried to have the event staged at his home lot but there was no stage available.
Twentieth is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. empire as is Fox TV network and Regan Books. O.J. Simpson is about to participate in a two-part Fox-TV interview with Judith Regan on his book, “If I Did it.” The disgusting rebirth of O.J. Simpson’s trial via this insulting exposure would no doubt have been a conversation piece should the event have been held at this date on the Fox lot. (Jim Gianopulos, by the way, agrees that the “If I Did It” book and TV exposure are insulting).
It was the kind of event where superstars like Michael Douglas and Tom Hanks were just window-dressing. They were there because their respective wives, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Rita Wilson were two of the stars performing in the “Hollywood and Broadway” show. (Catherine and Michael were also celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary). Zeta-Jones, in an eye-filling, leg-baring costume reminiscent of her Oscar-winning role in “Chicago,” told me she’s dying to do another musical. Somebody, please find one!
Shirley MacLaine, who brought down the house, admitted she hadn’t sung in over 10 years — “Not even in the shower.” It was hard to believe — she was a showstopper with “I’m Still Here.” She is writing another book and says she’ll reveal things she’s “never told before.”
Harry Connick, fresh from “Pajama Game” on B’way, displayed both his piano-istics and vocal talents as “Special Guest Host.”
As the program blended vintage musical clips and live performances, a preview of a film to come, “Dreamgirls,” teased us with the performance to come from Jennifer Hudson. And she then delivered — live. Afterwards the charming Hudson told me how helpful Eddie Murphy was to her as a newcomer to films on “Dreamgirls.”
Performers who also brought down the house included Christina Applegate, Kirsten Bell, Andrea McArdle Audra McDonald, Marissa Jaret Winokur. Bernadette Peters performed twice, her second, “Let Me Entertain You,” shook the rafters. It was Patrick Wilson’s booming voice that matched the hurrahs won by the ladies.
All of the above performances were made possible by the great musical direction of John Mauceri who also added his personal memories at the Hollywood Bowl with many of the talented performers — of Hollywood and Broadway. Dan Jinks and Laurence Marks produced the show, Dan Mojica, directed.
Everyone’s looking forward to the next edition of “Hollywood and Broadway” which was inspired by the great book, “A Fine Romance Hollywood — Broadway” by Darcie Denkert.