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Foster’s Riefenstahl biopic sets scribe

GOOD MORNING: Once again it is proven that “the evil men (women) do lives after them.” The Leni Riefenstahl biopic planned by Jodie Foster’s Egg Pictures has set “Philadelphia” screenwriter Ron Nyswaner to prepare the first draft for Jodie to star as Hitler’s filmmaker. Foster is currently on location in Orlando directing “Flora Plum,” and I was unable to get an update on the film, but her partner Meg Lefauve admitted of the project, “It is tricky to show the how and why” Riefenstahl became Hitler’s greatest press agent via her films. She admitted the film would be “very provocative.” It is worth noting that a few years back, Riefenstahl wrote a letter to the Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier requesting compensation for the footage of the Nuremberg rallies used in the Center’s film, “Genocide,” winner of the 1981 Academy award for documentary feature. Hier wrote her back saying, “She did it (the film) on behalf of the Nazi party and we are not compensating Nazis. We would never pay her and we never did. She sold Nazism to the world in her films.” Hier says today Riefenstahl is trying to distance herself from what she did in her film, “Triumph of the Will,” which was a master plan for Nazi propaganda. That film, it has been said, helped shape the Nuremberg rally and she used cinema magic to make Hitler god-like. In 1935 she received the German National Film Prize for “Triumph” awarded by — Joseph Goebbels … And lest we forget some of the Riefenstahl-inspired hatred: “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport” is released Sept. 15. The Sabrina Films-WB feature docu is the story of the (1938-1939) transport of 10,000 endangered children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland to Britain foster homes — expecting eventually to be reunited with their families. Most never were. The docu is directed by Mark Jonathan Harris who also directed “The Long Way Home,” the second Oscar-winning docu for the Wiesenthal Center’s Moriah Films. Moriah preems its third docu, “In Search of Peace, Part One,” directed by Richard Trank, Oct. 15 in Jerusalem. Anne Bancroft narrates the Golda Meir seg … Rabbi Hier has invited (letter sent Aug. 22) Vice President Gore and Sen. Joseph Lieberman to visit the Museum of Tolerance. In response to the ADL’s call for Lieberman to eliminate expressions of faith in his speeches, Hier, who knows the senator, insists, “Lieberman is not injecting religion into policy and his is not seeking to convert anyone. And most of all his commitment to the separation of church and state is unshakable.”

AND NOW, MARILYN MONROE, the musical, “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” A reading/singing, multi-projected version for prospective investors was held Wednesday night at the Space Theater with a hopeful progression to regional theater and B’way — or London. The book is by Julie Ann Miller, no stranger to playing Marilyn, and by Thomas J. Saponaro, who is also the workshop producer and a vet of more than 50 stage and TV productions. In two acts with 36 scenes, the ambitious show’s characters include: Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Hyde, Walter Winchell, Arthur Miller, Paula Strasberg, Louella Parsons, Hedda Hopper, Pat Newcomb, voices of JFK, RFK and Peter Lawford. Cameron Michael Parkes composed and lyricked … It’s a busy session for Trudie Styler and husband Sting. While he segues from Wednesday in Nashville to concerts leading up to Central Park on Sept. 12, Trudie heads to the Toronto Fest with “Greenfingers,” the feature she exec produced with writer-director Joel Hershman. She is also readying a three-pic pact for Disney with Hershman, the first, “The Locksmith,” a romantic comedy. She is also winding production on the feature docu, “The Sweat Box,” which tells of the trials and tribulations in making the Disney animated “The Emperor’s New Groove,” for which she says Sting had written six tunes — and after the pic’s many changes wrote two new ones! Styler and Sting get together for a week in their home in England — after she receives Amnesty International’s A.I. award, Sept. 25.

RENEE TAYLOR, WHO JUST PLAYED Babe Ruth’s wife in Billy Crystal’s “61*” for HBO, will play Golda Meir. The latter one-woman show bows Jan. 15 at the Huntington in Long Island for two weeks. The play, written by Bill Gibson, will be directed by Joe Bologna, Renee’s husband “and boyfriend” of 35 years. And oh yes, Renee will also have a small role in “Returning Mickey Stern,” which Bologna will film … Three generations of talent: Rita Moreno wings out from N.Y. to join Maria Conchita Alonso and Elizabeth Pena in Showtime and Viacom’s “Resurrection Blvd.” series. Moreno plays Pena’s mother … Angie Dickinson, who has “Duets'” opening Sept. 15 and “Pay It Forward” bowing Oct. 20, is now set to star with Debra Winger, Rosanna Arquette and Arliss Howard in “Big Bad Love.” Merritt Blake reps Angie … P.R. exec Judi Schwam marries business exec Cy Yedor on Fri. at the Four Seasons … Emmy show producer Don Mischer wings out post-Emmys for Sydney to ogle the Olympics — he produces opening and closing ceremonies of the Salt Lake City Winter O’s in February 2002 … And Emmy director Louis J. Horvitz, also Emmy-nominated for the 72nd Oscars, is taping Aretha Franklin in Atlantic City for a seg of the “Evening of Stars” benefiting the United Negro College Fund to air, syndie’d in Jan. He’ll also direct the VH1 Fashion Awards for Vogue, Oct. 20 in Madison Square Garden.

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