Leders to film parents’ WWII love story

GOOD MORNING: Truth is stronger than fiction, and it is proven with even more power in “Sentimental Journey,” which Mimi Leder will direct in partnership with her brother, Reuben, and producer George Litto. It is the story of the Leders’ father, Paul, who, as a WWII G.I., met Mimi and Reuben’s mother-to-be, Etyl, a Belgian prisoner in the Nazi death camp Auschwitz. Paul and Etyl later married and their story has been written by Reuben Leder from the original story by their father. Mimi’s last film was the box office hit, “Deep Impact.” Litto plans to start filming in February in Prague, and “Journey” is the first film backed by Litto’s new financing ($250 million) from Chase Manhattan Bank. He promises this will be a “quality” movie about the story of survival … “Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust” will be introduced by Rabbi David Baron of Temple Shalom for the Arts at the Yom Kippur Eve (Kol Nidre) service, Tuesday at the Wilshire Theater. At last year’s service, Baron intro’d Christoph Meili, the heroic Swiss security guard who rescued critical bank documents from destruction — leading up to this year’s revelations and restoration of stolen assets of Nazi victims and their surviving families. This year’s “unsung heroes” to be intro’d include: a U.S. Army liberator of Dachau, Sgt. Floyd Dade, part of the all African-American 761st tank battalion under command of Gen. George S. Patton — among the first to liberate concentration camps including Gunkirschen and Buchenwald. Also to be intro’d, Agnes Hirschi, saved as a child by Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz, whose forged visas rescued nearly 50,000 Jews and others. In a remarkable twist of fate, Lutz later adopted Hirschi as his own daughter. She is flying in from Switzerland for the occasion. A&E’s “Mysteries of the Bible” producer Bram Roos will screen a seg, “Maccabees: Revolution and Redemption.” He’ll also read from the Torah … And, as usual, the Charlie Powell-founded Shofar Synagogue High Holy Day services at the DGA are available to all, regardless of ability to pay for tickets.

BUENA VISTA TV and Merv Griffin Entertainment are teaming to produce a half-hour, daytime/early fringe strip starring the U.K.’s most popular daytime personality, Ainsley Harriott. Mort Marcus, president. of BVTV and senior VP of programming Stephanie Drachkovitch remind that Harriott is “a total original” and the show will be a talkshow in — and out of — the kitchen. Producing the pilot is Michael Gelman of Disney’s “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee.” After the pilot, Gelman remains as a consultant on “Harriott” while continuing as Regis and Kathie Lee’s exec producer … Where could you find a cast of Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Tony Randall, Chita Rivera, Isaac Stern, Christopher Reeve, James Naughton, Cy Coleman, the Harlem Gospel Choir, Amy Grant, and Joseph Gabriel? Only at Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang’s ninth annual gala produced by A.E. Hotchner at the campsite in Ashford, Conn. Funds raised from the show and silent and live auction totaled $1,320,000 to help support the camps, which give hope and love to children who are suffering from blood-related diseases. Recently Newman’s Own added ice cream to his list of food products from which he donates all proceeds he receives to charitable and educational purposes. To date, $90 million has been donated. P.S. I recently tried Newman’s Own Milk Chocolate Mud Bath Ice Cream (bought at Gelson’s) and I’d gladly take a bath in it!

WHILE MADISON SQUARE GARDEN and Ted Forstmann have taken over Pierre Cossette’s “The Scarlet Pimpernel” at the Minskoff, Lucky Pierre is moving right along with his “Civil War,” headed for B’way’s St. James on April 22. The show, now in Houston. will be directed by four-time Tony winner Jerry Zaks. And Cossette continues his TV productions taping Celine Dion’s holiday CBSpecial Nov. 6-10 here at CBS TV City … Mickey Rooney celebrated his 78th birthday Wednesday on stage in “The Wizard of Oz” in Tampa. He sounded — like Mickey Rooney — great! He’s completing the sixth-month tour, taking a 10-week hiatus before resuming after the holidays in Philly … ECO (Earth Communications Office) preemed its eighth public service announcement Wednesday night in the Cary Grant Theater at Sony. On hand were narrators Mimi Rogers and Ed Begley Jr. and composer Hans Zimmer. Patrick Stewart, Hank Azaria, Alfre Woodard, Julianna Margulies and Jacqueline Obradors also voice … AFI and Blockbuster wrapped the 27-city tour of “Blockbuster Legends Movie Memorabilia Tour” Thursday p.m. with a gala at the Hollywood Roosevelt while the touring museum with its collection of movie memorabilia was parked next to Mann’s Chinese … It was SRO at the House of Blues for Keely Smith’s one-night tribute to Louis Prima. Those on hand included Dan Aykroyd, Robert Pastorelli, Harry Shearer, George Hamilton, Wink Martindale, Mickey Dolenz, Fred Travalena and Robert Fuller. The House of Blues is now talking dates with Keely for other clubs … Kevin and Ruth-Ann Huvane welcomed their first child, Declan Ian H., Sept. 15. Dad is at CAA and mom is VP of talent of Columbia TriStar TV.

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