You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

South African welcomes Attenborough — this time

GOOD MORNING: Richard Attenborough’s car was buzzed and bumped as he drove to the airport to leave South Africa. “I was literally thrown out of the country,” he said. “Someone at South African Broadcasting overheard one of our group saying, ‘We’ll start shooting in July,’ and they took it to mean shooting — as in guns. And they said, ‘Get the revolutionary foreigners out of our country!’ So we shot it in Zimbabwe.” But, that was 10 years ago when he was there scouting “Cry Freedom.” He’s now in N.Y., having completed a four-week visit to South Africa, Swaziland and Kenya in his capacity as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. He says he was greeted everywhere with open arms and hearts. “Now the change is fabulous. You cannot believe it. Everywhere, people — black, white — grabbed us to shake hands.” He met with Nelson Mandela (whom he’d earlier confabbed with in London). And Attenborough says he could be “tempted” to do a film in South Africa. He’s in N.Y. for tonight’s Radio City Music Hall preem of “Miracle on 34th Street” and party following at Rockefeller Center. Today, before the preem, he reports to James Grant, director general of UNICEF … Attenborough is excited about seeing “Miracle” in the giant RCMH. He has not as yet seen the movie — except for snippets in London looping sessions. He was last at Radio City in ’85 for “A Chorus Line.””That evening was great,” he recalls, “but — the next day’s reviews — were not!” No such worries this time, reviews are already touting him for an Oscar nomination. As for acting again, he admits turning down several offers, but he will return to reprise his role for Steven Spielberg in the sequel to “Jurassic Park, ” which he says will be in 1996. Of course, he’d like to direct next — although his directing salary is far less than his acting (he also has a piece of “Miracle”) … En route from Africa to N.Y., Attenborough stopped in London for a day, long enough to learn of the anti-Semitic Hollywood article by William Cash in the Spectator. Attenborough volunteered, “It’s obscene. They (Jews) are the geniuses of the movie industry. We should raise our hats to them.”

WITH THE AHMANSON newly restructured, Neil Simon tells me he may be coming back there. His national company of “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” will play the Doolittle …”I don’t think I’ll ever take (time) off again,” said Shecky Greene to thunderous applause at the Wilshire Ebell last weekend about his return to performing (after seven years). He jokingly said, “I was in Alcoholics Anonymous , Gamblers Anonymous and Weight Watchers, so I had no time to work.” Not so funny, however, were the illnesses that sidelined this great talent. Red Buttons , among the pals and peers there, said, “Shecky is a true genius.” His timing was again razor-sharp, his voice like that of a man half his age, his impressions better than their originators. And his jokes, well, ask me to tell you a couple of them. Even I will make you laugh. Among the “fraternity” there to wish him well and congratulate him after each of the two shows: Carl Reiner, Morey Amsterdam (whose psychiatrist son-in-law helped in Shecky’s recovery), Paul Reiser, David Steinberg, Sid Caesar, Richard Lewis, Jerry Vale, Jan Murray, Jack Carter, Ed O’Neill, Jesse White, John Byner, Shirley Jones, Jack Riley, Mike Connors, Frankie Avalon and Mayor Riordan with Nancy Daly. Ernie Chambers and Gary Nardino ogled Shecky for a TV series. The SRO audience also heavily applauded Julie Budd, who opened for Shecky.

BENITO MUSSOLINI’S YOUNGEST SON, Romano M., Rome’s favorite jazz pianist, has been set by legend Lionel Hampton to join 33 top stars at his 10th Jazz Fest in Moscow — Idaho, that is — in February … Phyllis Diller is tributed by the Pacific Pioneer B’casters Friday at the Sportsmen’s Lodge with a dais including the rarely seen Rod McKuen … Ilya Salkind and Jane Chaplin, through attorney Steve Chrystie, won a California Appellate Court ruling that Alexander Salkind (Ilya’s father) must appear in L.A. for trial in the matter of monies Ilya and Jane claim were advanced him for “Christopher Columbus” that Salkind pere has failed to return … KNBC Weatherman Fritz Coleman hosts the Nov. 22 “Comics for Kids” Improv benefit for the ERAS Center, with auction prizes including TV series walk-ons … Shirley (Mrs. Jay) Livingston was birthday-partied by her husband at Trader Vic’s, with guests including the Bob Stacks and Red Buttonses … Also at Trader Vic’s, Ricardo Montalban, painfully on a walker post year-old back surgery. He will, however, host a book signing for “Hispanics in Hollywood: An Encyclopedia of Films and TV” (Garland) by vet Hollywood praiser Luis Reyes and Peter Rubie, at the DGA Dec. 14 … We’re off for a week.

More Voices

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    WGA, Agents Face Tough Issues on New Franchise Pact (Column)

    The Writers Guild of America and the major talent agencies are seven weeks away from a deadline that could force film and TV writers to choose between their agents and their union. This is a battle that has been brewing for a year but few in the industry saw coming until a few weeks ago. [...]

  • FX Confronts Streaming Thanks to Disney

    Kicking and Screaming, FX Is Forced to Confront Future in the Stream (Column)

    During his network’s presentation at the winter Television Critics Assn. press tour, FX chief John Landgraf made waves — and headlines — by mounting perhaps his most direct criticism yet of Netflix. Landgraf, whose briefings to the press tend to rely heavily on data about the volume of shows with which FX’s competitors flood the [...]

  • Longtime TV Editor Recalls Working for

    How a Bad Director Can Spoil the Show (Guest Column)

    I have been blessed with editing some of TV’s greatest shows, working with some of the industry’s greatest minds. “The Wonder Years,” “Arrested Development,” “The Office,” “Scrubs,” “Pushing Daisies” and, most recently, “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” I have earned an Emmy, ACE Eddie Awards, and many nominations. But whatever kudos I’ve received, over my [...]

  • Stock market Stock buyback

    Stock Buybacks Leave Firms Without Funds to Invest in Future (Column)

    Corporate giants on the S&P 500 have spent more than $720 billion during the past year on stock buybacks. Media and entertainment firms account for only a fraction of that spending, but even $1 million spent on share repurchases seems a foolhardy expenditure at this transformational moment for the industry. The record level of spending [...]

  • Hollywood Has Come Far With Diversity

    An Insider's Look at Hollywood's Diversity Efforts and How Far It Still Needs to Go

    I am a white man working in Hollywood. I grew up in Beverlywood, an all-white, predominantly Jewish, Los Angeles neighborhood sandwiched between 20th Century Fox Studios and MGM, where my elementary school had only one black student. I am compelled to write about diversity in Hollywood because “diversity” — in front of and behind the camera [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content