Whoopi to fete prez on his 50th

GOOD MORNING: President Clinton’s 50th birthday party at Radio City Music Hall Aug. 18 will be hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, reteaming with her Oscarcast director, Jeff Margolis, who’s producing the Democratic National Committee fundraiser. It’s anticipated segs will be taped for possible use in the campaign as well as at the convention. Margolis was working around the clock to ready tonight’s CBS airing of “Country Fest” which he produced with Warner/Avalon and directed at the Atlanta Motor Speedway with an all-star country cast. Meanwhile, Whoopi Goldberg and Frank Langella, fresh from Prague preem’ing with “Eddie,” Paris-visited Ambassador Pamela Harriman at her residence. Goldberg also met with French stars Anouk Aimee, Jeanne Moreau plus Charles Aznavour and Marcel Marceau — and talked a possible legit outing with the two messieurs … On Thursday, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi and John Goodman mount Harleys, ride up to Atlanta’s City Hall to greet Mayor Bill Campbell in advance of their Friday and Saturday Blues Bros. concerts for the House of Blues in Atlanta’s historic Baptist Tabernacle. They are joined by Paul Shafer (the Letterman show) who often tours with ’em. And James Brown appears on the 26th and 27th. The House of Blues is sponsoring a major party for the Russian team Aug. 2 … David Wolper, an Olympics “consultant,” is in Atlanta for today’s dress rehearsal of the Olympics opening ceremonies. He stays until Sunday when he will also view the dress rehearsal of the closing cermonies — both of which Don Mischer is producing. Wolper ditto’d those ceremonies at the great 1984 Olympics in L.A., you recall … The Olympic national basketball team of Yugoslavia and officials (24 strong) were hosted by Vlade Divac at Dan Tana’s where a gray-haired Dennis Rodman and Jerry West were also turning heads (upward!) at Dan’s. As if this wasn’t enough for the usually blase celeb diners at Tana’s, Mick Jagger and his group were also on hand.

FINAL NEGOTIATIONS for Kenneth Branagh to star, Luis Mandoki to direct John Grisham’s script, “The Gingerbread Man,” should be completed today for producer Mark Berg at Island Pictures. An Oct. 15 start is plotted … Former Secretary of Education William Bennett, often a vocal critic of today’s TV programming, switches hats later this month when he comes to town July 27, this time to promote PorchLight Entertainment’s upcoming “Adventures From the Book of Virtues” animated PBSeries based on Bennett’s best-selling anthology … Ben Cross stars as Captain Nemo (the role originally played by James Mason in the Disney classic) in Robert Halmi’s CBS “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” APA’s Jeff Goldberg set Cross’ deal. Goldberg also brought Elliot Gould to a meeting with Woody Allen to star in Woody’s “Fall Project ’96.” However, Gould has a 40-week commitment to star in the legit revival of “Deathtrap”– so they’re trying to work out a short legit hiatus for Gould to work with Woody … At the Roundabout in N.Y. 450 showed for a reading of Ron Clark’s new play, “The Beach” with this cast: Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, Jerry Stiller and Phyllis Newman … George Lucas wanted to take daughter Amanda to SanFran’s Il Fornaio for her 15th birthday dinner — only to find Rysher’s “A Smile Like Yours” filming there — but the youngster, her 8-year-old sister Katie and 3-year-old brother Jett wanted to see a movie company in action, so Lucas brought ’em to the eatery anyway. Producer Tony Amatullo and director Keith Samples told Lucas what it’s like to shoot in SanFran — sans special effects … It was family night at Drai’s: “newlyweds” Esther Williams and Ed Bell, Tony Curtis carrying his grandson through the eatery, Connie Stevens and daughter Joely Fisher, and the Bob Shapiros and their son. Plus 400 other diners in for Monday musical night! … D.A. Gil Garcetti was guest of honor at praiser Michael Levine’s first monthly Media Round Table dinner at Campanile — off the record.

I FINALLY CAUGHT up with the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters, celebrating its 60th anni, at Laguna Beach. I have one regret — that I hadn’t experienced it before. I will surely see it again. The $1.2 million Pageant of the Masters is a spectacular treat for the eyes — and ears — since it is all live. And miraculously so. The only way the Pageant accomplishes the impossible is because of 450 talented volunteers, who work for 56 nights with the cast of 140 in live tableaux alternating every seven days. Artistic director Diane Challis Davey is a 16-year veteran of the pageant herself. She may do live recreation of movie posters in an upcoming show. It would be tough to top the current extravaganza. Act one: an historical tribute to the U.S. including a (live, natch) recreation of the Olympic coin, and the second, chefs-d’oeuvre of the masters, Monet, Cellini, Degas and da Vinci, all re-created live on stage with live orchestra and live narration (Skip Conover). The show is always SRO, and deservedly. What a great way to spend a summer’s day — and night.