Willis ‘repudiates message’ of Farrakhan

GOOD MORNING: Thank you, Bruce Willis, for responding to my column Wednesday, in which I reported your quotes in the July issue of George magazine about naming Louis Farrakhan as one of your heroes. I then quoted the Anti-Defamation League’s letter of education to you about Farrakhan. Yesterday, in a fax to ADL national director Abraham H. Foxman, you claimed, “It was never my intention to equate Louis Farrakhan to the good works of Martin Luther King Jr. Louis Farrakhan is not my hero and I repudiate his message of hate and anti-Semitism. I’m very appreciative that ADL has reached out to me to provide me an opportunity to set the record straight. I have been raised all my life to be a strong voice against inequality, racism and anti-Semitism and I will continue that endeavor. Sincerely, Bruce Willis.” Foxman responded, “We welcome Bruce Willis’ clarification of his comments in George magazine and his repudiation of Louis Farrakhan’s message of hate. Mr. Willis has set the record straight.” Welcome home, Bruce.

MY FRIEND SIDNEY POITIER was honored Thursday night by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences with a salute by co-workers, and will be toasted again tonight at a screening of “In the Heat of the Night.” But he remains, as always, “very humble — truly, truly. I’ve been extremely lucky.” Poitier said, “For 48 years, one day after another has been just a bit better than the day before.” He was in true wonder of the dual honor and laughingly asked me, “Are they trying to tell me something?” Yes, Sidney, that we all love and respect you.

OUT OF SIGHT, MAN — that describes the “Out of Sight” preem at Universal’ Cineplex Odeon Cinemas and the party atop the neighboring hill, with an out-of-sight view of the glittering valley below. Almost all of those responsible for the pic were on hand except Elmore Leonard, on whose novel the film is based. At home near Detroit, Leonard told me he didn’t make the bash because four of his flights were either delayed or canceled. He got the message! However, he’d seen the pic previously and liked the screen version as scripted by Scott Frank, with whom he’d had many discussions before/during production. Leonard admitted the Albert Brooks character, Ripley, “was only referred to in the book. I didn’t think you had to see him.” But after seeing the film, Leonard agreed with Frank, director Steven Soderbergh and producers Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, and Stacey Sher that it was correct to see him –and Albert Brooks is terrif in the pic. Brooks, there with his co-stars, is excited to next start “The Muse” starring Sharon Stone, Andie McDowell and himself for October Films-Universal. Leonard just wound writing his “Get Shorty” sequel “Be Cool” (Delacorte) for MGM and Jersey Films again and of course to star DeVito (and hopefully John Travolta). DeVito was on hand, of course for Jersey’s “Out of Sight” preem with wife Rhea Perlman and daughter Gracie (13) and son Jake (10), although the pic’s rated R. Danny will next play Andy Kaufman’s (Jim Carrey) manager, George Shapiro, in the Kaufman biopic, “Man on the Moon.” The Shapiro-West office (they also manage/exec produce Jerry Seinfeld) is being duplicated for the pic … “Out of Sight” stars on hand for the pic included George Clooney with Celine Balidan, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Dennis Farina, etc. And the U toppers were led by Frank Biondi and Ron Meyer. Guests included Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Keaton, unbilled in a cameo role.

BEST WISHES TO CARROLL O’CONNOR, who undergoes vascular surgery on his right carotid artery at UCLA. Coincidentally, wife Nancy is recuping from hip replacement surgery last month at St. John’s … John Frankenheimer delivers a keynote address at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film & TV com-mencement ceremony Saturday in Perloff Quad before 250 students. And on July 18, Edie (Mrs. Lew) Wasserman receives the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor, in a special ceremony with Dean Gil Cates and UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale at the Regency Club in Westwood … Rupert Murdoch will be this year’s honoree at the fourth annual “Stars of Tomorrow” dinner-gala and scholarship fundraiser hosted by the Fulfillment Fund Nov. 7 at the BevHilton. The evening is always highlighted by musical performances by gifted young students artists … The MPA’s Jack Valenti receives Argentina’s highest award to a foreigner, the Order of May, June 24 from Argentina’s Ambassador in a D.C. ceremony. Jack’s wife Mary Margaret has written her first major magazine article: it’s about filmland fathers and appears in the July McCall’s. She writes what Anjelica Huston, Jane Fonda and Christie Hefner (and others) leaned from their famous fathers … Eva Marie Saint and husband Jeff Hayden were not only pleased to see her in two of the AFI “100” but they were even more excited to see the AFI logo constantly repeated: it was designed by their son Darrell Hayden, who recently opened his own design studio in San Francisco.