Osment plays Polish Jew in pic

GOOD MORNING: It’s a long way from my interviewing stand on the red carpet at the Academy Awards to Krynica, a tiny town, 2 hours away, by car, from Krakow, Poland. “And with no freeways,” added Eugene Osment, as his 12 year-old son Haley Joel O. came on the phone to me. It’s so rural on this location of Millennium Films/Braun Entertainment Group’s “Edges of the Lord,” Haley Joel isn’t able to correspond, via e-mail, with his pal Bruce Willis. (They’ve remained close friends since working together in “The Sixth Sense” for which Haley was Oscar-nominated). Haley’s dad, Eugene, there with wife Theresa, said they cannot even get AOL on that site, chosen for its ability to double for a Polish town during the Nazis atrocities of the occupation. In the film, Osment plays a Jewish boy who is hidden (by his parents) with a Catholic farming family. He’s tutored to pass for a Catholic — which is ironic, because Haley Joel who is Catholic, is playing a Jewish lad posing as a Catholic. Haley, though young, told me he is well-aware of what went on during that period. His tutor for over four years in Hollywood is Lois Carl, who is Jewish. And she is with the Osments on this location as well. Gary Grossman who produced the May 20 A&E special “Heroes for the Planet” with Haley and Charlotte Church, told the Osments that a member of his family in Poland experienced the same story as in this pic. … Young Haley told me, “It’s good that everyone learn about it (the Holocaust) because the more we all learn about it, it’s less likely to happen again.” Although Osment’s movie mother and father succeed in giving him an escape, they are not so fortunate. They, like so many Polish Jews, are exterminated. Willem Dafoe plays the local priest who knows of Osment’s religion and who teaches him Catholicism. … When the Nazis searched for male Jews in hiding whether children or adults, their method was simple: they looked to see who was circumcised. And yes, Haley Joel, who is forced to disrobe, is circumcised. … Coincidentally, Haley Joel’s next film, “A.I.,” is being directed by Steven Spielberg (“Schindler’s List,” of course you recall!). Jude Law costars in the Stanley Kubrick-originated futuristic film set in the post polar ice cap meltdown, leaving N.Y. underwater. It is a giant f/x big-budgeter, in contrast to the low-budgeter “Edges of the Lord.” It will be a very physical film for Haley, he admits. Previous to these two pix and post- “Sixth Sense,” Haley costarred in “Pay it Forward,” starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, with Jon Bon Jovi as Haley Joel’s alcoholic father. Mimi Leder directed. In “Edges of the Lord” Haley Joel is directed by Yurek Bogayevicz, who also scripted. He grew up in Warsaw playing in mined fields. It was his writing and the (true) subject which attracted Haley Joel to this pic. The Osments had been in Warsaw last year for the Polish preem of “The Sixth Sense.” It will be interesting to see the Polish reaction when “Edges of the Lord” preems there. No punches are pulled about the Poles who turned away from the realism. And producer Zev Braun adds he has “emotional attachments” to the film as well — his family came from Poland. He takes a different tack next — “Macbeth in Africa” for Franchise Films.

I WAS SORRY TO LEARN OF THE DEATH Wednesday of Craig Stevens, 81, who died of cancer at Cedars-Sinai. The tall, handsome Stevens had been a star of all showbiz media, from B’way to Hollywood, large and small screens (“Peter Gunn”). He was a constant supporter of the biz and was ever-present at all the openings with his wife of 49 years, Alexis Smith, with whom he had costarred on screen as well as on stage. And after she died, Craig and Frances Bergen, longtime family friends (she, the widow of Edgar Bergen) became a regular duo for the past eight years, continuing the tradition of their respective families. He will be missed by all of showbiz. … CalArts Awardees in the Arts will receive $50,000 each, Saturday (13) at the Herb Alpert Foundation. The award is to those “at the brink of broader creative careers.” … Mace Neufeld, Deidra Hall and Eva and Fred Vollmet are honored by P.A.T.H. (People Assisting the Homeless), Tuesday at the Century Plaza. … Martin Scorsese, Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, on behalf of the Film Foundation, join Kate McEnroe and American Movie Classics’ first fundraiser, June 5 at the Casa Del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica, celebrating the works of Alfred Hitchcock, many of which have been restored through funds raised by the Film Foundation.

IT WAS INEVITABLE: the latest item pitched to Regis Philbin is — a Regis Philbin Halloween mask! His new deal with Van Heusen stipulates the items (ties/shirts) be in the stores June 12, in time for Father’s Day, June 18. Every retailer has put in request orders! I’ve gotten my old solid color ties out of the closet! … A Clint Eastwood collection is set to follow Warner Home Video’s classy (classic) “Astaire and Rogers Collection,” featuring 10 of their most famous dance pix. It includes, “Flying Down to Rio, ” ‘Follow the Fleet,” “The Gay Divorcee,” and “Top Hat.” We’ll be on assignment until after Memorial Day.