GOOD MORNING: “Is there a doctor in the house?” A voice on stage at the Carousel of Hope Ball at the BevHilton took the mike from Kelsey Grammer as he started to duet with B.B. King. Well there were plenty of doctors in the house and Barbara (Mrs. Marvin) Davis noted, “My root canal doctor, my skin doctor, my gynecologist — even Dr. Phil.” They all rushed to the table where Jerry Buss had fainted. But it was Dr. Gary Gitnick of UCLA’s Medical Center, and cardiologist Dean Ornish who took charge, and followed Buss and paramedics to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where Buss was treated, later released. The drama of the night reminded me of the drama in that same room Nov. 24, 1958 when the Friars were honoring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. One by one, top performers of the day on the dais gave their all. One was Harry Einstein, known as “Parkyakarkus,” who wound a hilarious stand, sat down next to Milton Berle on the dais — and suddenly lurched forward. He was quickly taken backstage, and as I wrote the next day, “The scene could never be used in a film — no one would believe it! Actor John Bromfield was aided by a coupla newsmen (yours truly included) in assembling an electric line for the medics to use in a last ditch fight, waiters rushing towels from the men’s room, to be used in the gory emergency surgery; the ‘waiting room’ was the stage with the top names in showbiz hoping against hope for a happy ending.” It didn’t come: “Parky” died with the applause from his performance still in the room. Good news about Buss’s recovery Tuesday night was announced by a very generous –and valiant — host, Jay Leno. Doctors Gitnick and Ornish missed the rest of the show as they remained with Buss. They all missed an auction that Leno delayed — it included one-on one basketball games with the Lakers’ Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Rick Fox. Leno not only m.c’d but also brought along Steve Bridges who did a startling George W. Bush imitation “from the White House” as he’s often done on Leno’s “Tonight’ show. The evening also starred generous performances by Elton John and Sting who had members of the audience dancing in the (packed) BevHilton ballroom donated by Merv Griffin. The evening was produced by George Schlattter and created musically by David Foster who also brought along Josh Groban to sing the national anthem. The important thing about the star-studded night was that it raised “over $4.5 million” for the Children’s Diabetes Foundation.
ONE OF THE WARMEST MOMENTS of the night was when Sidney Poitier accepted the Brass Ring award (designed by sculptor Robert Graham) from Halle Berry. While the gracious Poitier was talking to the showbiz crowd, he allowed to me, “I’m not of a mind to do any more acting.” Allowing he has enjoyed a fabulous career, he smiled, “I owe it something — and that is to leave it alone. Writing and reading is what I want to do.” He also admits he is enjoying “a great sense of usefulness” as he takes on a new title as cultural ambassador to UNESCO from the Bahamas where he is already their ambassador to Japan — and where he’ll be heading next month. Poitier will later present his credentials to the Unesco Conference in Paris or in Switzerland . . . Add international info: Billy Friedkin, on hand at the Carousel Ball with wife Sherry Lansing, said he’s in consultations with Wagnerian experts in preparation to direct the 3½-hour opera “Tanheuser” in Berlin in 2004, with performances also in D.C. and for the L.A. Opera company. “I’m steeping myself in Wagner keeping the surgeon’s motto in mind — Do no harm.” His movie “The Hunted,” starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro from Lake Shore/Par, bows Feb. 28 following the delay caused by Del Toro’s accident . . . David Caruso, who starred for Friedkin in “Jade” (1995), was complimented with Friedkin calling him “the best actor on television” . . . Ray Romano, among the top TV stars on hand, allowed to me he’ll probably go just one more season after the next. . . . Best news of the night was from Marvin Davis — who has dropped more than 100 pounds — he is now able to get around with only the help of a cane.
THE FIRST MOTION PICTURE UNIT of the 18th Army Air Forces, created by WB, and activated July 27, 1942, celebrates its 60th anni Oct. 30 with a dinner in WB’s executive dining room and the following day with lunch at the Reagan Library. Ronnie was a member of the unit and I viewed some of the vintage footage including hilarious comments and performance by Ronnie assembled by member Dann Kahn to be shown at the celebration. Part of the original group taking part: Stanley Rubin, Arthur Gardner, Jules Levy and Arnold Laven, with opening remarks by Roger Mayer and closing remarks by Brad Ball with WWII hero Hal Kanter as guest speaker. Ten-shun! . . . Politix and showbiz: Marilyn O’Grady, GOP candidate for N.Y’s 4th Congressional District, in a vidcommercial, targets Barbra Stresisand who is supporting O’Grady’s Demo rival (and front-runner) Carolyn McCarthy. Although acknowledging some of O’Grady’s accusations “could justify legal recourse,” Barbra’s camp doesn’t want to give “this candidate” media attention.