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Clinton to attend final Kennedy Ctr. Honors

GOOD MORNING: President Clinton was the first to be told this year’s Kennedy Center Honorees, by George Stevens Jr., who will again produce (with Don Mischer) the honors, to be taped Dec. 3 for CBS. The 23rd Honors will mark the Clintons’ final appearance in the center’s Presidential Box. Immediately prior to the gala, the President and Mrs. Clinton host a traditional White House reception for the honorees — Mikhail Baryshnikov, Chuck Berry, Placido Domingo, Clint Eastwood and Angela Lansbury — and invited guests. Stevens reminds, “The president has been a great friend to the honors,” adding, “as were his predecessors.” I must add, having had the privilege of attending many White House receptions pre-gala, no president enjoyed meeting and greeting showbiz contingents more than Clinton … This year’s honorees were again suggested by 75 members of the Artists’ Committee, with the Kennedy Center board making the final decision; James A. Johnson is Kennedy Center chairman … Lansbury is the sole woman honoree, but she represents theater, film and TV! Baryshnikov is no stranger to the awards, having appeared to honor another dancer: Jimmy Cagney. He also appeared for honorees Jerome Robbins and Frank Sinatra. Domingo appeared on the first awards (1978) for Stevens and Nick Vanoff, singing as a “wild card.” Baryshnikov and Lansbury are both naturalized Americans, Domingo is a citizen of Mexico. Angela, on location in Hidden Valley Tuesday, shooting the “Last Free Man” story for “Murder, She Wrote,” (son Anthony Shaw is directing) hoped her Kennedy honor will help convince CBS to air the telepic on a Sunday night, instead of Thursday. “If CBS has its head screwed on right, that’s where it belongs — on Sunday!” She adds, “This is the first time I really get to act and flex my acting muscles” in a “Murder, She Wrote.” Friends will also be happy to hear that her husband Peter Shaw is recovering and will be able to attend the Honors with Angela.

ANNE HECHE IS ALIVE AND WELL — and was in an Armani shoppe in Toronto on Tuesday with the costume coordinator for “John Q,” the New Line feature in which she starts a two-month stint today. Toronto and environs double for Chicago and its suburbs. Producer Mark Burg told me he had dinner with Heche Monday night and spoke again with her Tuesday. “And she is fine, except for her sunburn.” Sunburn? “Yes, her back and shoulders look like tomato.” Burg said she got badly burned driving her convertible “and she suffered sunstroke.” This would explain some of the reports of her strange behavior when first discovered near Fresno. Burg also insisted to me that the stories were exaggerated “lumping together” her breakup with Ellen DeGeneres and Heche’s hospitalization. Coincidentally, she plays a hospital administrator in the film. She refuses to OK the heart transplant surgery for Denzel Washington’s young son when Washington doesn’t have insurance. Denzel takes over the hospital’s emergency room, holding the operating team hostage until they agree to perform the surgery. Robert Duvall plays the hostage negotiator. Burg says Washington is again delivering an Academy Award-worthy performance. Other cast members include James Woods, Ray Liotta, Eddie Griffin and Kimberly Elise. Nick Cassavetes is directing the script by James Kearn and Steve Conrad.

REGIS DOESN’T SHIRK HIS SHIRTINGS, even though he has two weeks off both his daytime and nighttime ABC showings. He’s at Macy’s in Sherman Oaks today for Van Heusen, autographing postcards for those buying a shirt or tie. Reege is accompanied by wife Joy in this quick three-day’er, which includes taping a Christmas show for Disney Radio. Afterwards, they’ll vacation at home in Conn. In October, he’ll do “Millionaire” four times a week, plus the five-day daytimer. As for a new ayem partner, Philbin says “It’s still wide open,” but he says he’d like wife Joy to do it. If she decides not to do it fulltime, she’ll continue to fill in, he says … It was a most “emotional day” for Lauren Bacall. First, she read Carol Matthau’s remarks at the tribute to Walter at the DGA Sunday. That evening, Bacall, an honoree at the Women’s Image Network’s WinFemme 2000 Film Festival at the BevHills Civic Plaza, was surprised with a video tribute by her three children, Leslie Bogart, Stephen Bogart and Sam Robards (joining Steven Spielberg’s “AI”). “I was so moved by each one; they said things that they had never said to me. They are three terrific kids. How lucky I am! I got so emotional between Walter in the morning and my children that night …!” Bacall is also out here to tape promos for AMC’s September lineup. Also honored by the Women’s Image Network (founded by Phyllis Stuart) was Jane Campion (filming in Australia), with Sam Neill accepting on her behalf … Cliff Robertson received a Life Achievement Award in honor of his 57th feature film, from the Long Island Film Festival. It marked his third award this year, after kudos by the Houston and Santa Clarita festivals … The Hoops in Vegas gala at Peter Morton’s Hard Rock Hotel, raised more than $300,000 for the Kayne-ERAS Center in Culver City. Les Moonves was honored at the gala tribute dinner and auction hosted by Tom Arnold. Antawn Jamison and Tracy McGrady hosted an NBA all-star game at the Thomas & Mack Center.

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