N.Y.’s MOMA fetes Eastwood

GOOD MORNING from New York, where Clint Eastwood added another tribute to the year that has included two Oscars and the British Film Institute’s Fellow award. On Wednesday night, the N.Y. Museum of Modern Art’s Dept. of Film presented a black-tie’d evening — only the fifth of its kind. The previous recipients were Cary Grant, David Niven, Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck … Eastwood, looking great in his tux, vest and conservative black bow tie — he wasn’t wearing the “lucky” red tie he wore to the Oscars — was modest before, during and after the SRO evening, which raised $ 750,000 for the museum’s film preservation programs. He told me: “They’re a nice outfit. They gave me a day(time) tribute 13 years ago for ‘Bronco Billy.’ ” He’s supportive of their restoration program and told me he’s giving them his personal tapes of Eastwood movies missing from their library. “They’ll be able to transfer them to film,” he explained. Eastwood, like fellow directors, is concerned with the preservation of film — and also concerned about alteration of movies, the use of unauthorized vintage clips in commercials, etc. His interest in global movies is evident in his acceptance to head the Cannes jury next year. “I know it’s a dangerous thing,” he laughed. He took time away from mixing his latest movie, “A Perfect World” to attend the N.Y. event. He had been asked to accept before winning his Oscars — and agreed thereafter. He told me “World” is another “different” movie for him — set in the ’60s. Would he work for co-star Kevin Costner should the latter want to direct him? “I don’t think he wants to direct again very soon,” Eastwood said. “‘Dances With Wolves’ was very difficult.” Did Costner add any directorial input with Clint on “A Perfect World”? “No,” he laughed, “he had a lot to do, so he didn’t mess around.”

WHAT DOES EASTWOOD THINK about the plethora of Westerns being planned and made? “I hope they do well and that they reach new areas.” Would he do another? “I would — if it was as interesting as ‘Unforgiven.’ “… On hand for the tribute was Eastwood’s son Kyle (25) and Frances Fisher. Eastwood and Fisher brought their 3-month-old daughter, Francesca, with them to New York (though not to the museum tribute). It was the first time they’d gone out on an evening without the baby. “I feel like we’re on a date,” Frances laughed, resplendent in a beaded Armani. I asked Eastwood if they were married. “Not yet,” he smiled. The usually very private Eastwood was gladly giving interviews about himself and Frances, describing his joy at fatherhood (again) — even to the point of diaper changing! Fisher’s “Baby Fever” movie for Henry Jaglom is nearing release. She said Henry had shown it to them –“Clint made a few suggestions,” she smiled. The movie’s about women’s biological clocks running out.

THE TRIBUTE PROGRAM was opened by remarks from Jamie Niven, vice chairman of the museum’s committee of film. He expressed their gratitude to Warner Bros. for the support of their film office. Niven said of Eastwood, “You honor us.” He was followed, in the museum theater, by president Agnes Gund, who reminded that Jack Warner, back in 1935, was the first donor to their film archives … Time Warner’s CEO and chairman Gerald Levin, who the night before opened the Warner Studio Store on Fifth Avenue, chaired the Eastwood benefit. He admitted that Eastwood, like Gary Cooper (another WB star), had been “a hero” of his … Richard Harris then stepped to the podium to narratethe 70 minutes of Eastwood film clips. Harris told me his WB “Wrestling Ernest Hemingway” was a winner to work on. He also recently wound his Morocco stand in (as) “Abraham” in the TNT biblical epic. “I’ve been home (in the Bahamas) four days in the past year,” he said (happily). He recalled Gene Hackman and he, at the end of a day’s filming on “Unforgiven,” commenting, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our movies were this well organized?”… Eastwood, after receiving a standing ovation, said of the movies that traced his career, “Watching yourself age before your eyes could be devastating.” He hoped “good roles would keep coming along. Hopefully, the best is yet to come for me.” He modestly added, “I was lucky to work with actors like Richard Harris and Gene Hackman.” And thanked the museum “for the great important work you do — it is close to my heart”… Among those on hand for the tribute were Doug Cramer, a committee member, Irwin Winkler (“Bird” producer), Bud Yorkin, George Stevens Jr., Eastwood’s longtime trio of friends and reps William Morris agent Lenny Hirshan, lawyer Bruce Ramer and WB’s Joe Hyams … While here, I learned WB inked a two picture deal with Dino de Laurentiis, the first will be “The Assassins,” written by Andy and Larry Wachowski. Bruce Berman locked the deal.