GOOD MORNING: George Clooney hies to Cleveland to take on another heist pic (“Welcome to Collinwood”) while still winding up the Las Vegas-set grand thievery “Ocean’s Eleven,” also for WB. However, Clooney, who also produces “Collinwood” with his “Ocean’s” director Steven Soderbergh, will only be in Ohio three days to crack their safe. The lower-budgeted “Collinwood” (from Gaylord’s Pandora division) is written-directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (31 and 29 years old), whose “Pieces” at Slamdance attracted Soderbergh. He offered ’em a chance to team with him on their next project. It’s the $10 million “Collinwood” — far less than “Ocean’s” price tag. And it’s the first of more pix planned together … Joining “Collinwood” is Michael Jeter as one of the humorous heisters … On the immediate heist horizon is the release this month of the Martin Lawrence/Danny DeVito MGM’er “What’s the Worst That Could Happen” … Jack Valenti, who takes on the heavily Hollywood-supported Senators Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton on their introduction in the Senate of the Media Marketing Accountability Act of 2001, S.792 (see page 35), is completing a new, revised edition of his (1988) “Speak Up With Confidence,” in which he rates all the presidents from Eisenhower to Dubya — on their ability to speak. The best? Reagan and Clinton. And Valenti notes, if we had had television back then, “FDR could have been king!” Valenti has taken a stand in local L.A. politix: He was one of the hosts, along with Sherry Lansing and Jonathan Dolgen, for an Antonio Villaraigosa toasting at Lansing’s home. Howcum Valenti’s involved with local politics? “I’m practically a citizen of L.A., I’m there so much. And when you’re part of the industry, you’re part of the city.” Further, he noted, “Villaraigosa has proven to be a friend of the industry when he headed the (state) Senate.”
WITH “BABY BOOMERS” on the back burner at CBS as Scott Bakula, who replaced Burt Reynolds, has decided to instead star in the newest “Star Trek” series “Enterprise,” one member of the original cast, Joe Bologna, is happy he was among those let go. Bologna says the Shuberts have given him and wife Renee Taylor an “open-end” deal to bring their legiter “If You Ever Leave Me, I’m Going With You” to the Cort, previews starting July 17, preeming Aug. 6. It’s their 36th wedding anni and they’ll celebrate at the Helen Hayes Theater, which was Merv Griffin’s Little Theater back in 1965 — and Merv gave ’em the theater for their wedding (Renee was a regular on his talk’er) … “A.I.” credits will read: Warner Bros. Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures present an Amblin/Stanley Kubrick production, A Steven Spielberg film,” plus screenplay, producer and director credit to Spielberg. But the film also will screen a “dedication” to Stanley Kubrick. Spielberg talks about the origin of their planned teaming on this pic in the DVD, “Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures” (Warner Home Video), produced-directed by Kubrick’s brother-in-law, Jan Harlan. Tom Cruise narrates. It bows June 12, but preem’s May 30 at the DGA … It’s back to the sea for Jim Cameron, who will crew on one of the six, 30′ Newport race boats, June 2 at the Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club race to support the Planetary Coral Reef Foundation’s “Celebrity Sail” “to save our coral reefs.” Florida’s lost 38% of hers in four years! Marlon Brando first discussed the coral reef crisis with PCRF from Tahiti last year. Also participating in the race will be (“Titanic” co-star) Frances Fisher and Tom Arnold. The Jim Camerons named their new baby girl Claire.
THE MUSIC CENTER’S Dorothy Chandler Pavilion has never been the same. It was the 64th-anniversary Spectacular of California’s Junior Philharmonic Orchestra (135 strong) under the baton of founder-conductor Dr. Ernst Katz. And while the young musicians garnered thunderous and repeated applause for their renditions of Rossini, Tchaikovsky, Leonard Bernstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber, it was Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) who brought down the house. He was one of the celeb conductors participating in the orch’s annual “Battle of the Batons.” He is also an alumnus (trumpeter) of the Junior Philharmonic and gave praise to the organization, which was/is so influential on the community. He conducted a portion of Meredith Willson’s “76 Trombones” in a most unique fashion — walking on his hands! He stole the thunder and won the golden baton from fellow celeb batoneers “Felicity’s” Amanda Foreman and Greg Grunberg, George Chakiris, radio’s Michael Jackson and Mickey Rooney. Yours truly hosted this seg of the concert, produced by Gary Greene, coordinated by Lori Gordon. Gary Owens added his own special tones as the evening’s announcer, with participants also including Connie Stevens, Pat Boone, Barbara Eden, Carol Lawrence, Dr. Irene Kassorla, Alan Young and Danny Woodburn. Salomon Smith Barney underwrote the gala. The 65th is already set for May 15, 2002 … Merv Griffin, who recently donated his $10 million Wickenberg Inn & Dude Ranch to Childhelp USA, will be honored by ’em May 19 at their 37th annual Humanitarian Awards at Merv’s BevHilton. Also honored will be Kathleen Turner, Patty and Mark Victor Hanson. Mary Hart femcees. Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson founded Childhelp in 1959 … James Coburn presents the Music Center’s Distinguished Artist Award to Eva Marie Saint June 4 at the BevHilton. The other recipients: Joel Grey, Dawn Upshaw, Mark Morris and Herbie Hancock … Stan Freberg and keynote speaker Betty Hunter will wed June 16 at the home of the Jon Creans. Frank Sinatra Jr. will serenade the newlyweds.