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Spielberg, Lego to build young filmmakers

GOOD MORNING: If Steven Spielberg could start his career at the age of 8 — that’s when his father gave him his first camera — why not a new generation starting their filmmaking careers at that age? Obviously, Steven agrees. He’s joined with the internationally famous Lego company to form “Lego Studios.” The first “Steven Spielberg MovieMaker Set” (for children 8-16) will be on sale in November — and all of Steven’s proceeds from these sales go to the nonprofit Starbright and Shoah Foundations, which he heads. As you might imagine, Spielberg would not lend his name to any product without thoroughly checking it out. So, he and Brad Globe, who heads Spielberg’s consumer products division, met with Lego’s Lars Nyengaard, who winged in from Denmark h.q. to demonstrate and work with Spielberg, testing and approving the MovieMaker set. It includes a PC movie camera, editing software, Lego props and software including an editing suite. Also a CD-ROM to plug the PC camera into a USB port. The props and “cast,” of course, include dinosaurs. It also has sound, titles and other professional features. The entire “studio” will sell for about $180. There’ll be a ceremony at the Children’s Film Festival at the Skirball Center and a workshop Nov. 4, with Hollywood celebs giving kids tips on moviemaking … Coincidentally, Steven had an idea for a kids’ moviemaking toy four years ago but was unable to tie up with anyone until Lego came along with theirs. Globe said Steven “fell in love” with their idea and spent an entire afternoon working the “toy” himself, making suggestions, enhancements, etc. “He really had fun — he hooked up the camera and computer himself, spending several hours working on it. Lego has such a great reputation, he felt comfortable with them — and, of course, the charitable contributions.” Don’t forget, Steven loves toys — and loves to play with ’em with his own children. Now, they too can become filmmakers. UCLA and USC, watch out!

SHOWBIZ AND POLITIX: A shuttle will take ducat holders from the Aug. 17 Demo Convention closing (following the acceptance speech by Al Gore) at the Staples Center to the gala Gore fund-raiser at the Shrine, where (as noted here) Barbra Streisand will sing (three tunes) … Another giant Gore fund-raiser is planned for Radio City Music Hall, Sept. 14. Harvey Weinstein is active on both the Shrine and RCMH events. Over 175 celebs are so far set for the “Hollywood Gala Farewell Tribute to President Clinton,” to be held at the Robert Taylor Ranch (owned by Kenny Roberts), Aug. 12 … Tonight, Cynthia Gershman and the Board of Directors to End Homelessness toast Tipper Gore at Gershman’s home for a dinner benefiting the L.A. Homeless Charities. Chaka Khan entertains; will Tipper sit in on drums? … N.Y. Governor George E. Pataki addresses Hollywood’s Wednesday Morning Club, Thursday, July 20 at the BevHills Hotel … Wolfgang Puck tells me the Demos have bought out his BevHills restaurant for five nights during their stay in L.A. Puck signed a 26-show deal with the Food Network for a half-hour, once-a-week “Cooking With Wolfgang” show. It will be taped with a studio audience “and we’ll have a little fun in the kitchen,” he promises. No, it will not be your showbiz celeb-type show. After all, Wolfie is a celeb himself. Once again, Puck and Paramount’s Sherry Lansing host the California Spirit XVI gourmet gala, benefiting the American Cancer Society’s programs. The garden party will be held July 16 at Kenny Roberts’ (Robert Taylor) ranch. The town’s top eateries and the country’s top wineries contribute, with flower pieces by Wayne Woods of the Woods. For tix: 310-670-2650, Ext. 227.

JOE ESZTERHAS TO TALK MAG editor Tina Brown: “When I married Naomi, I toasted her and said that I felt like I’d been a loner all of my life but I didn’t feel that way anymore. You all read the reviews of ‘Showgirls,’ ‘Jade’ and ‘Sliver,’ so let me repeat that toast on a creative level: ‘Tina, I don’t feel like a loner anymore.’ ” It was at the lavish party Tina and Talk tossed him Wednesday p.m. at the Mondrian celebrating publication of his “America Rhapsody” (Knopf) and generous excerpts in the mag’s hefty-selling Aug. issue. As for all the talk about Talk, publisher Lee Rosenbaum told me there’ll be a more colorful look in September. Both he and Tina remain confident … Add literary news: Warner Books bought rights to the autobio of GE’s Jack Welch for a reported $7 million-plus … Milton Berle celebrated his 92nd birthday at L’Orangerie with wife Lorna and Tony Martin and Cyd Charisse on Tuesday and again on Wednesday at the Belvedere restaurant in the Peninsula hotel. Miltie is feeling — and sounding — much stronger these days … Joe Wizan’s “The A List” show on KRLA launches today 5-7 p.m., with Tom Hanks on the full two hours … Rosemarie Thomas died peacefully Wednesday at home, surrounded by children Tony, Marlo and Terre, and five grandchildren. The eight family members, only last month, had happily reunioned for the 43rd annual ALSAC/St. Jude Convention in Memphis. They sang a surprise tribute to the founding members of St. Jude’s Hospital with a tune written by Terre. Danny Thomas founded the cancer center, which has treated more than 17,000 children around the world. Rosemarie had been a stalwart in that fund-raising and at the gala held annually here in L.A.