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Family Celebration to honor Clinton, Ford

GOOD MORNING: Hollywood still loves Bill Clinton — and vice-versa. Elizabeth Taylor will present Clinton with the Annual Award of Merit at “A Family Celebration 2001,” April 1 at the BevWilshire. The evening’s invite is toplined, however, with a Special Giving Award to President and Mrs. Gerald R. Ford. And Clinton will be making some presentations on his own — f’rinstance, the Heart of Courage Award to Loreen Arbus, with Hillary Clinton, who cannot attend, taping a special greeting to Arbus. David Foster is producing the evening. Whoopi Goldberg will be among those toasting the president, as will Toni (Holt) and Robert Kramer. And honorees also include Sylvester Stallone, “Outstanding Creative Achievement Award”; the cast of “Ally McBeal”; Bob Newhart; Robert Lorsch, “Humanitarian Award”; Jeffrey Bonforte, “Internet Entrepreneur of the Year Award.” Carson Daly m.c’s and entertainment includes ‘N Sync (also honored), Rod Stewart, Marc Anthony and Clint Black. David E. Kelley and Michelle Pfeiffer are dinner chairpersons. And Cynthia Gershman, who was a hefty supporter of the Gore campaign, is underwriting the event … The previous night, March 31, Gerald Ford and wife Betty are hosting a Western-style barbecue at Ken Roberts’ ranch in Mandeville Canyon — site of Clinton-Gore parties of the past. Guests here will be the heavy hitters supporting the next night’s event. Politics aside, this reads like one big happy family celebration. Stay tuned.

TRIBUTES TO HOLLYWOOD’S GIANTS: Lew and Edie Wasserman and family will be honored by the Jules Stein Eye Institute, Sept. 29 with a “Reflexions” gala celebration at the institute’s west terrace. The Institute will construct a third building. Wasserman and Stein of course were partners and founders of MCA. And the Wasserman family has supported the Institute since its inception and expansion … Honorees for the 19th annual Golden Boot awards this year are (alphabetically) Alex Cord, Loren Janes, Chuck Norris, Andrew Prine, Eli Wallach and Raquel Welch. Dale Robertson will m.c. The Golden Boot honors those who have distinguished themselves in the Western movie genre. The evening, to be held at the BevHilton, benefits the MPTF. It will be the first year the three Western superstars, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans have gone to that last roundup in the sky … Dr. Donald A. Reed, founder of the Saturn award and Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror died March 18 of cardiac arrest. He was 65. The 27th awards nominations will be announced April 2, and the awards will be a tribute to Dr. Reed … Mickey Rooney is honored by the Film Advisory Board’s Award of Excellence on Thursday at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel. Mickey and his wife Jan who are on tour, are expected to perform here as well … Jan Murray will receive a fun-filled Friar’s tribute April 9. Among the (guaranteed) laugh makers will be Buddy Hackett, Don Rickles, Phyllis Diller, Sid Caesar, Norm Crosby, Jeff Ross, and master m.c. Carl Reiner. Johnny Francis, as always, produces … Fess Parker has received many an award over the years for his inimitable performance as Davy Crockett, but he was honored as founder and chief exec of his 714-acre Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard — and by the European Wine Council with their Distinguished Achievement Award. A gala dinner and wine tasting was attended by a lucky group of oenophiles at Piero Selvaggio’s award-winning eatery, Valentino’s in Santa Monica. The European Council’s Dr. Lucio Caputo also presented awards to Clyde Beffa Jr., Greg St. Clair and Selvaggio. Parker, exuding the same warmth that won over generations of kids, was on hand with his son Eli and daughter Ashley, who are his wine-making team in his Santa Barbara wine county. They also own the Fess Parker Wine & Country Inn & Spa in Los Olivos — a winner of the 2000 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. Just thought you’d like to know what’s happened to a movie giant.

WHILE GIL CATES IS BUSY backstage producing the Oscar show on Sunday, his son, director Gil Cates Jr., will be in the audience celebrating with interior designer Nathalie Duprat — they engaged to wed. He proposed to her on the site where they met — as children — at L.A’s. Lycee Francais in Beverly Hills. Cates Jr. is in post on his second feature, “The Mesmerist,” starring Neil Patrick Harris and Jessica Capshaw … At the Oscars for the first time this year will be David and Coco (D’Este) Carradine. While the family has a long record of Academy membership, David became a member for the first time this year and happily reports he was able to gain tickets in the Acad’s lottery program. Her cousin, Ray Evans has won (with Jay Livingston) three Oscars (“Que Sera, Sera” “Buttons & Bows” and “Mona Lisa”). Carradine costars with Richard Crenna in Showtime’s “By Dawn’s Early Light” … It’s also shoe biz: Stuart Weitzman, whose shoes walk Oscar’s red carpet on some of the fanciest feet, is keeping his shop on Rodeo Drive open 24 hours a day this week to fit the elite. Ellen Burstyn is one of the nominees’ tootsies in his creations, others include Mary Hart, Angela Bassett, Vivica A. Fox, Julie Moran … Add fashion note: Eddie Murphy in knit cap and sunglasses slipped into the Matrix theater to catch a performance of “Driving While Black in Beverly Hills.” But playwright Frank Jenkins recognized him — they worked together in “Coming to America.” Also there, Whoopi Goldberg, whose daughter Alex Dean is one of the play’s leads.

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