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Pierson to focus on Oscars in new Kodak theater

GOOD MORNING: The last time I spoke to Frank Pierson, it was to congratulate him on “Conspiracy.” I devoted an entire column extolling his upcoming WWII HBO drama. It went on to garner 10 Emmy nominations. When I spoke to Pierson again Wednesday morning, it was to congratulate him on being elected president of the Academy. His reaction to taking reins of the office, “Terrified.” He was at work with writers on another TV project, this one for Showtime, “and a complete change for me — transexuality to the nth degree!” Details and title to come. Tuesday night had been a dramatic one personally for Pierson as the 40 Acad board members met at the BevHills hq building and attended to the business while also taking dinner. The nominations were made for the office: Don Rogers was nominated by Richard Edlund, Alan Bergman by Arthur Hamilton, Roger Mayer by Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Pierson by John Frankenheimer. Pierson admitted that Frankenheimer’s nomination was “moving,” also reminding, “We had had battles over the years, he on behalf of the Directors Guild, me for the Writers.” But all for one and one for all on issues of the Acad. As for thoughts on the office, Pierson admitted the major thrust will be on the upcoming Academy Awards in the new Kodak theater at the Hollywood and Highland complex. “Bob Rehme made this a reality,” said Pierson. “It will be tough to fill his shoes.” As for the progress on construction, he said, “there are no alarm bells ringing. It will be great to have the Oscars in Hollywood and not in downtown L.A.” He adds the job will now entail educating both the membership to research and development of the business, which is moving-and changing at a tremendously rapid pace. Yes, even to the future of film! Although Pierson’s “Conspiracy” was made for TV (HBO) he is still hopeful it has a future on the bigscreen.

AN ADDED TREAT: Opening act for Eddy Davis & his New Orleans Jazz Band (with Woody Allen on clarinet) Tuesday and Wednesday nights at the Jazz Bakery was — Mort Sahl. He and Allen go back 40 years — to the Hungry i in San Francisco and the Interlude on the Sunset Strip. Their conversations were about girls and politics. Sahl recalled how newcomer Allen credited Sahl, saying “You changed my life.” When they met 15 years later, Woody asked Sahl, “Can you change it back?” Despite their long friendship, Sahl never worked in any of Woody’s films — he was to start one, “Manhattan,” but believe it or not there was a salary dispute. Salary in a Woody Allen movie? … Sahl was in rare form, telling of his meeting with George W. Bush in Palm Beach where he told him, “Too bad you lost the election.” Sahl praised Miramax, “They have the courage to make foreign pictures in America” Sahl said the crowd would understand when he said, “Film is my mistress, TV is my life.” … Woody and his herd followed, receiving repeated applause for each solo and group finales. Allen was obviously having the time of his life playing in the sextet — which finale’d appropriately with “Good Old New York” — but not so fast. Woody returned to duet with banjo player extraordinarie and group leader, Eddy Davis with a touching “After You’ve Gone.” Woody, a man of few words, intro’d the group and told the packed house, “It’s an honor to play for you.” It was a pleasure to be there. It’s obvious how much he loves playing — and how much he seems like he’s going to the gallows when asked to play the movie star … Among those on hand were the Mark Rydells, he recently co-starred in Woody’s latest pic, “Hollywood Ending,” playing a Hollywood agent. The pic also stars Tea Leoni, Debra Messing and Woody. Rydell recently played Jack L. Warner in “James Dean,” which he also directed. Also on hand, Alan Bergman who rushed to the Bakery from the Academy board election to join wife Marilyn. Alan is new president of the Academy’s Foundation.

HBO HAS CREATED AN ANNUAL Best Student Film Award for the Savannah Film and Video Festival, Oct. 27-Nov. 3. Colin Callender will make the presentation Nov. 3 at the Savannah College of Art & Design Trustees Theater. Already noted here, Jane Fonda will receive the lifetime achievement award … “Young and Restless” star Joshua Morrow married teacher Tobe Keeney Aug. 4 in Santa Barbara. Last month Morrow was named “Best Hero” at the Soap Opera Awards … Paul McCartney and fiancee Heather Mills dined at Ago … “The Andy Dick Show” bash at the Hollywood Canteen brought out Illeana Douglas, Jack Black, Dominique Swain, Christian Slater, Amy Heckerling — and the cast of “Jackass.” Also seen at the young club, these young ‘uns, Kirsten Dunst, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Dillon, Johnny Depp, Melissa Joan Hart, Tobe Maguire, Scott Caan, Rachel Leigh Cook … IMG’s Marc Perman who is Phoenix Suns’ Charles Barkley’s agent, was also his “phone-a-friend” on the Sept. 10 “sports week” of “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.” You can bet Barkley will be calling Perman for other TV assignments. P.S. Barkley will probably join TNT as a fulltime b’caster next season … Sherwood Schwartz’s “Gilligan’s Island” stays afloat — the musicalized version (14 tunes) bows tonight at the Theater Forum in Thousand Oaks … Nancy Sinatra Sr. was on hand for Betsyann Faiella’s tribute to Frank Sinatra at her Cinegrill bow. She repeats her “Can I Be Frank” show Aug. 13 … The Cuba Gooding Jr.-narrated “The Big Leaf Tobacco Company” short by Allan Rich and Peter Antico’s We Care About Kids non-profit org receives an Award of Excellence from the Film Advisory Board’s prexy Elayne Blythe, Aug. 20 at the Paramount Studio Theater.

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