Selleck lends support to Lieberman

GOOD MORNING: “I think he’s a good man and I think it’s clearly a good choice. And it’s about time a Jew was nominated.” It was a registered independent voter — Tom Selleck — talking about Sen. Joseph Lieberman, just-announced vice-presidential Demo candidate. Selleck, who plays the Democratic presidential candidate in TNT’s “Running Mates” airing Sunday, knows Lieberman through their involvement with the Character Counts Coalition and Michael Josephson’s Institute of Ethics. “It’s a pleasure to know him — I worked with him a lot. I’d vote for him,” added Selleck who was the former spokesman of the Character Counts Coalition and is now on the board of directors. He is a winner of the Distinguished American award from the Horatio Alger Society. “Running Mates” filmed at the same site as the arriving Demos, Staples Center. But its final day is devoted to their as yet-undecided vice presidential running mate to Selleck’s presidential … “It’s a big thrill to play a presidential candidate,” he admits, “also a little intimidating.” Selleck has been actively pitching the show, which received a terrif review by Daily Variety’s Laura Fries. Following appearances on “Today,” Leno, Letterman and Regis shows, he and exec producer Gerry Rafshoon head to D.C. today to appear on Chris Matthews’ CNBC “Hardball.” Rafshoon was Matthews’ boss back in the Jimmy Carter days when Matthews was a Carter speech writer and Rafshoon the president’s top media man … Rafshoon says the excitement over Gore’s choice of Lieberman is “a pretty good thing for our show — and the campaign. It’s a very bold and good development. And it adds energy to the campaign. Recently, Rafshoon admits he told Lieberman, “You are my choice,” Lieberman smiled and said, “I’ll tell my mother!” … Selleck next heads to B’way for his legit bow in a revival of Herb Gardner’s 1962 “A Thousand Clowns.” “It influenced me more than anything else for my career — its about the little guy inside me,” Selleck said. As for “Running Mates,” he likes doing it because — “It’s Capra-esque” … Now who’ll get the biggest numbers — the GOP, the Demos, or TNT’s “Running Mates?”

HOW DO HOLLYWOOD’S HEFTY GORE supporters feel about the choice of Lieberman as vice presidential candidate? There’s no question about the solid support from the three-man team of Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. “We’re excited about the choice,” said Katzenberg. “I’ve had dealings with Sen. Lieberman over the past dozen years. I’ve always found him to be a man of extreme integrity — and independence. He does not pull punches but is forthright and fair. We don’t always agree on some of the solutions, but I respect his passion for what he believes in. He reaffirms what I have believed about Al Gore for two decades — he (Gore) has surrounded himself with men of the highest integrity.” As for Lieberman’s criticism of Hollywood’s product, Katzenberg says, “He’s sometimes overly critical of Hollywood but in the next breath there is no one giving more support to the First Amendment, the NEA and the arts. I think he brings a great deal to the ticket.” Spielberg arrives home from his vacation on the 15th in time for final days of the convention — and on the 17th starts filming “A-I.” … Monday, outside the Staples Center, the media city and the street closures were being set up while, inside, Gary Smith, the exec producer/director of the convention was setting up next week’s programs. First night, Monday, will star Hillary and Bill Clinton in separate appearances in the 7-8 p.m. airing with the finale of the day’s activities — the “76 Trombones” show stopper from “The Music Man” with Prof. Harold Hill (played by B’way’s Craig Bierko) singing Buz Kohan’s new lyrics. Bierko, with Monday night off B’way, wings out for the appearance and will lead a 300-piece marching band. An intro for “76 Trombones” will toast Demos FDR, Harry Truman, LBJ, Jimmy Carter and William Jefferson Clinton … With all the serious talk about candidate-to-be Lieberman, Larry Gelbart has his inimitable observation: “A Jewish vice president? Joe Lieberman would be just a heartburn away from the presidency.”

FOR THE USUAL SPAGO-ERS, please note the Demo takeovers: closed Sunday for a private party with a street closure on Canon Drive. Monday lunch and dinner is total Democracy. Tuesday night is a private senatorial soiree, but lunchtime is open to the other voters as well. Wednesday is OK for lunch, you peasants, but the evening’s also a Demo sitdown. All the candidates’ hotels will shuttle conventioneers to Spago and the other respective parties to which they’re invited. Thursday: au revoir Demos. Let the games begin … Among those joining the supporters of Joe Lieberman is Marilu Henner (Mrs. Rob Lieberman) mother of 4-year-old Joseph Lieberman. Marilu’s touring in “Annie Get Your Gun” and also p.a’ing her book, “Healthy Life Kitchen” and will also promote for the DNC on the combo tour … Congrats to Deborah Raffin and Michael Viner who welcomed Taylor Rose Viner Friday, also the Viners’ 26th wedding anni … Richard Gully, who recently celebrated his 93rd birthday, is recouping at Cedars-Sinai after successful intestinal surgery … Dick Van Dyke sadly tells us of the death of Phil Erickson with whom Dick started his career 50 years ago in the comic-mime act, the Merry Mutes. They toured six years after which each went his separate way — but remained close friends. Van Dyke, in his eighth season in “Diagnosis Murder,” says an upcoming seg will be a reality takeoff of — “Big Brother.”