GOOD MORNING: Maria Shriver, in N.Y. this week, is not only subbing for Katie Couric on NBC’s “Today” show but is busy on other nets promoting her latest book, “What’s Wrong With Timmy?” (Warner Books). Arnold is here in L.A. as the opening of his “Collateral Damage” was KO’d (until mebbe Feb.) because of its violent theme: his family is killed in front of him when a downtown skyscraper is hit by a massive bomb blast. He seeks — achieves — revenge. While waiting to decide on his next project — directing a comedy (he did ‘Christmas in Connecticut”) and the start of “Terminator III,” he is devoting his efforts to promoting after-school programs for middle school children. He’s chairman of the After-School Alliance. The Schwarzeneggers have four children, (11, 10, 8 and 4 years old). Maria’s new book is her second. Her first, “What’s Heaven” (St. Martin’s), is having a surge in sales these days as it tries to explain to children what happens to loved ones who die. So many youngsters are faced with trying to cope with the death of loved ones in the Sept. 11 tragedy. In “Timmy,” Maria says she is trying to tell children about all kinds of different children, like those who look different, in this case, someone with a disability. The book, beautifully illustrated by Sandra Speidel, is also designed to teach children not to be afraid of others because they look different, have different religions — and particularly those children with disabilities. “This is the first book geared to talking to children about disabilities — to talk to them at a young age. “My parents told me about disabilities,” she noted. “My aunt was mentally retarded.” Maria’s mother, Eunice Shriver, has long been at the forefront of the Special Olympics and the rest of the family — including Arnold — has been continuing. Proceeds from Maria’s book go to the Special Olympics and Best Buddies funds.
THE SONG IS ENDED but the memories linger on: My good friend Jay Livingston died Wednesday after a valiant battle to remain with us. He received his last standing ovation Aug. 26. Although wheelchaired, he made it to Corky Hale’s SRO Salute to Hollywood Songwriters at the Beverly Hillls Civic Center Plaza and the audience finale’d serenading him with “Que Sera, Sera,” one of his three Oscar-winning tunes with partner Ray Evans (“67 years of friendship and 63 years of writing together”). Livingston’s loving wife Shirley (Mitchell) is planning a memorial for him. Jay’s brother Alan Livingston, former topper of Capitol Records and NBC, is also devastated by his brother’s death. “We both went to Penn where we played together in our own orchestra, played on cruise ships visiting some 36 countries, and went on to L.A. to seek our fortunes, both in music. Jay started at Paramount (with Ray Evans) and me at Capitol Records. Our careers overlapped for the balance of our adult lives. He was more than a brother to me. Jay was my soul mate.” … I had known Jay since 1946 when I was working for the AP’s Hollywood bureau (with Bob Thomas). When I made my rounds at Paramount, I’d invariably stop at the music building to schmooze with Ray and Jay in their tiny office, an upright piano and a desk. In ditto offices in the building were Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen, Frank Loesser, occasionally Johnny Mercer, all plunking out songs for the greats of the studio — of course, Bing and Bob, Betty Hutton — and whoever was starring at the time. Yeah, songs like Evans and Livingston’s’ “To Each His Own,” “Buttons and Bows,” “Silver Bells” — and of course, “Mona Lisa,” which brother Alan and Capitol recorded. And later when at NBC, Alan, producing “Bonanza,” had Ray and Jay write the theme — still heard today around the world … For the past three years, Jay had been working with Michael Feinstein who had always wanted to create a CD dedicated to the duo’s music. He recently completed it — with Jay duetting with Michael on some numbers. Michael just sent me a sample disc — the opening song (as re-lyricked by Ray and Jay) is “You’re So Right For Me” from the B’way musical of Jose Ferrer, “Oh Captain!” My wife Selma and I have duetted it many times with Jay accompanying us on the piano during the many musicales which wife Shirley had created at their warm home. The room was always filed with music, musicians and love. The regulars included Johnny Mandel, Benny Carter, Tony Martin and Cyd Charisse, Corky Hale and Mike Stoller, Ginny Mancini, Jo Stafford, Hal David, Pete Rugulo, of course Nancy and Alan Livingston, neighbors Red Buttons, Bob Stacks and Louis Nyes … Melissa Manchester sings one of the tunes in Michael Feinstein’s “Livingston and Evans Songbook.” It is “Never Let Me Go.” There won’t be a dry eye in the house.
ELTON JOHN IS GETTING TOGETHER a few friends, Dec. 12 at the Universal Amp for “The Concert — 20 Years of AIDS.” So far set to perform are: Bon Jovi, Craig David, Pete Yorn, Sting and, of course Elton. All proceeds to AIDS Project LA and the Elton John AIDS Foundation … The Society of Singers’ east gala Monday at the Pierre honors Bobby Short with its “Louis Armstrong Award” with performers including Barbara Carroll, Joey Bushkin, Lenny Kravitz, Jon Hendricks, Chita Rivera, Donald Sadler, Clark Terry, Billy Stritch, Julie Wilson, Leslie Uggams … Scott Sassa, NBC’s West Coat prexy, receives the American Jewish Committee’s Dorothy and Sherril C. Corwin Human Relations Award Jan. 31 at the BevWilshire.