Prez to miss Kennedy Center Honors

GOOD MORNING: President Clinton will have to miss the Kennedy Center Honors presentation in the Kennedy Center. However, the White House reception for the honorees Sunday will be moved up earlier in the day so the president and Hillary can congratulate Kirk Douglas, Aretha Franklin, Morton Gould, Harold Prince and Pete Seeger in the Blue Room, and address them and White House guests in the South Room. Then the president zips out to the South Lawn, where a chopper takes him to Air Force One and on to Budapest for a NATO conference with heads of State on security and cooperation in Europe. Hillary C., Vice President Al Gore and wife, Tipper, will preside later at the taping of the honors in the Kennedy Center. (Previous presidents have had to miss the show because of international developments, such as Jimmy Carter for the Iran hostage crisis) … Hillary Clinton is due to drop into Hollywood and the Tiffany theater tonight to catch fellow Arkansan Mary Steenburgen in “Marvin’s Room,” which closes Sunday. Hillary also will be guest of honor Saturday at a Demo fundraising luncheon here at Jimmy’s.

RICHARD GERE ADMITTED TO ME back in September on the “First Knight” location in England that on the completion of the movie he’d be heading to the Himalayas to meditate. At that time he said he’d be going there alone to “take some lessons.” Wife Cindy Crawford had visited him on the set, he said, but judging by Thursday’s announcement of their separation, their reunion in Camelot on “First Knight” was short-lived … While Dudley Moore awaits CBS’ word on “Daddy’s Girls,” Moore and wife Nicole are awaiting the birth of their first child in mid-’95. Next month, Moore heads out on a classical symphony tour, with dates including Dayton, Nashville and Chi … It’s a girl for first-time parents Mimi Rogers and Chris Ciaffa. Lucy Julia Rogers-Ciaffa was born Nov. 20 … Meredith MacRae and Phil Neal, president of Avery-Dennison, will marry Feb. 4 at the Bel-Air Hotel. Meredith’s sister Heather will sing, brother Bruce and Gar will give the bride away and Meredith’s mother, Sheila, will be in the small wedding party. Meanwhile, Meredith heads to NATPE with her pilot “No Men Allowed ,” an all-femme talkshow which her Pelorus Entertainment banner produced. “Women will let their hair down” on the show, Meredith promises … Elaine Paige, who starred in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s original “Evita,” got a standing ovation on her return to the London stage in “Sunset Boulevard,” taking over from Betty Buckley , who returned to the U.S. to recuperate from an appendectomy. Webber was on hand to embrace the diminutive, posie’d Paige … Bob Balaban, John Goodman and Christine Lahti, all pals of director/screenwriter Brian Gordon, are guesting in Gordon’s feature “Pie in the Sky” for New Line. It stars Ann Heche and Josh Charles. Balaban’s “The Last Good Time” (he co-produced, directed and co-wrote) has been bought by Sam Goldwyn for release in North America … For her audition to get a running role as a third-year medical student in “ER,” Ming-Na Wen proved she has the sense of humor needed for her role: She told me she faked a rectal exam on the casting director! “I brought surgical gloves,”she laughed. Wen, who starred last year in the dramatic “Joy Luck Club,” is seen in yet another test of her talents as a “Street Fighter” with Jean-Claude Van Damme and the late Raul Julia.

THE “GUMP” GOES ON: Today in the Paramount commissary, employees and studio visitors wind up a week of “Forrest Gump” dishes that Bubba found delicious. Today’s special: shrimp and refried beans. The meals are on the market nationwide via Meridian — with the Official Bubba-Gump Shrimp Co. Cookbook as well … Mykelti Williamson, Bubba, starts shooting his next film, “How To Make an American Quilt,” in January and signed with Wendy Murphy at UTA … Exec producers Ernie Chambers and A.D. Oppenheim wrapped production on their ABC comedy special “Who Makes You Laugh?” with comedians interviewed including: Brett Butler, Dana Carvey, Howie Mandel, Eddie Murphy, Roseanne, Lily Tomlin and Robin Williams. Plus others repped by clips … Press agent Mark Rutenberg continues to represent Robin Williams (a client since 1978) as Rutenberg joins Dennis Davidson Associates … Charm’s Teddy Bear Boutique will be Wednesday this year at the Motion Picture Country House Lounge — with proceeds from all the beautiful handmade gifts going to the residents’ Christmas gifts … Sunday’s Rodeo Drive “Happy Harley Day” with Cher as Grand Marshal benefits Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times … Tommy Cook’s Whales Alive charity golf classic at the Four Seasons in Maui this weekend is hosted by the Bridges: Lloyd , Jeff, Beau and Lucinda.