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Acad to open millennium with Wilder fete

GOOD MORNING: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ first event for the year 2000 will be a tribute to Billy Wilder — whom they have been trying to get to agree to a tribute for a long time! A three-week retrospective of 27 of his films by UCLA Film & TV Archive and the American Cinematheque starts Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. Yes, Wilder (93) will participate — as will many of his friends, you can be sure. The screenings will be held at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater and the Cinematheque’s Egyptian theater — only one event per night, allowing Wilder fans to see every film being presented. Many of the screenings will also feature special guests related to that night’s film or films. All of the pix for which Billy received Academy Award nominations will be in the series. He received 21 noms and won Oscars for writing and directing “The Lost Weekend,” and the screenplay of “Sunset Boulevard.” He won three Oscars for writing, directing and producing the “The Apartment.” And in 1987 he received the Irving G. Thalberg award, which honors “creative producers whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production.” Tix go on sale Dec. 1; you can bet this will be a sellout — immediately.

THANK YOU FOR SAVING the studio,” Rupert Murdoch told Bob Wise, seated next to him at a recent industry dinner. (Wise was the director-producer of 20th’s Oscar-winning “Sound of Music” in 1965, when the studio was in dire straits following the costly “Cleopatra” and several flop films.) Today, at 20th, a new dubbing stage is dedicated as the Robert Wise Dubbing Stage, a completely digital facility. Wise had received his first Oscar nomination for editing “Citizen Kane.” Now, Wise will be working in this technically innovative stage for his Showtime feature, “Storm in Summer” starring Peter Falk, Ruby Dee, Andrew McCarthy, Nastassja Kinski and 10-year-old Aaron Meeks. It’s the first pic assignment Wise (85) has accepted since 1980’s “Rooftops.” He was nominated for directing “I Want to Live” and won for director and producer of both “West Side Story” and “Sound of Music.” At 20th, Wise also directed “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” “The Sand Pebbles” and “The Desert Rats,” among others. His first directorial credit was for “Curse of the Cat People,” which he completed in 18 days. He has now delivered Showtime’s “Storm in Summer” in 22 days, on sked and on budget. He says he’s “very proud” of this film, a remake of a classic Emmy-winning episode of “Hallmark Hall of Fame,” written by Rod Serling. Wise, hail and hearty, said he’d direct more pix, if he found scripts equally as good. He and his agent — of 50 years — Phil Gersh, are looking for one.

INTO THE INTERNET AGE: Music giants Babyface, David Foster and Carole Bayer Sager have teamed to create the Web site TONOS, aimed to bring new people into the music world. Several additional major music names will soon join this trio. The CEO of the new company (and its site) is Steve Hansen, former CEO of Geo Cities, which was sold to Yahoo for $5 million. They promise that TONOS is a totally new use of the Internet, duetting with music. Stay tuned — and in tune … Jordan’s Prince El Hassan, brother of the late King Hussein, Princess Badiya Bint el Hassan and their children will be guests of Rabbi Marvin Hier and the Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance, Wednesday. It’s the first visit of these royal family members. The late king had been a visitor here and had also guested his friend, Rabbi Hier, at the Palace in Jordan … There’s nothing like a father following in his son’s footsteps: Kirk Douglas will receive UCLA’s 11th annual Spencer Tracy Award “to recognize outstanding dramatic achievement” on Dec. 6 at Royce Hall. Kirk’s son, Michael, preceded his dad in getting the award — in 1990. In giving it this year to Kirk, UCLA’s Campus Events Committee declares him, “a legend of the 20th century.” Douglas, pere, returns to the bigscreen in “Diamonds” which will be released next month. Susie Tracy, daughter of Spencer Tracy, and UCLA Events established the annual award in 1988.

MORE MOVIE STAR MEMORABILIA on the auction block: jewelry owned by Joan Crawford and Elizabeth Montgomery goes on view Wednesday at Sotheby’s in BevHills … Wardrobe items from Madonna, Priscilla Presley, Fran Drescher and others will be among items going on eBay with its Dollars to Dream Celebrity Auction of the Dream Foundation to benefit terminally ill adults. The monthlong auction begins Wednesday, ends Nov. 30 … Starlight Children’s Foundation and Starbright Foundation founder Peter Samuelson receives the prestigious Kellogg’s Hannah Neil World of Children Award Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio, and on Nov. 19, Samuelson accepts the National Caring Award presented by the Caring Institute. Producer Samuelson is preparing a Winston Churchill biopic with Brian Gilbert to direct. Verna Harrah will produce with Samuelson, who is also readying “Appassionata” with Richard Loncrane to direct … The “Palm Springs Follies” welcomes back Donald O’Connor tonight — he is subbing for Julius La Rosa who is recovering from triple bypass surgery. Last year, it was Donald who bowed out of his Palm Springs “Follies” stand when hospitalized with pneumonia! O’Connor is now in excellent shape, also guestars at noon Friday at Riverside’s Municipal Auditorium for 150 Medal of Honor winners, returning that night to Palm Springs to play the “Follies.” And O’Connor’s honored Nov. 20 at the El Portal Center for the Arts with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

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