GOOD MORNING: All in the family: Revolution Studios (Tom Sherak) plus Blue Star Pictures (William Sherak and Jason Shuman) and My Bench Prods. (Madeleine Sherak) will produce ABC’s “The Dawn Anna Story,” the inspirational true tale of teacher-coach Dawn Anna, who survived a brain tumor and was nursed back to health by the strength of her children. Robert Munic (“They Call Me Sirr,” “In a Class of His Own”) is the writer-director. Execs for the network: Susan Lyne and Nancy Bennett. All of producer Gary Smith’s projects are now under the banner of the Gary Smith Co. They include Sunday’s Tonys, the upcoming Emmys (Gary’s fifth), the AFI Life Achievement Award, the AFI’s “100 Years, 100 Passions, Greatest Love Stories” hosted by Candice Bergen, and the already aired “Mary Tyler Moore Reunion.” He was formerly teamed with Dwight Hemion.
“ROMAN POLANSKI IS A VERY HAPPY MAN”– I wrote in my column of June 1, 2000, “after we spent a enjoyable evening in Paris with him, his beautiful wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, and their two adorable children.” And I can repeat today that Roman Polanski is an even happier man. I spoke to him on his return to Paris after winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes for his film “The Pianist.” On that night two years ago, he told me he was readying a film based on “The Pianist” by Wladyslaw Szpilman, the true story set in Krakow when it was destroyed by the Nazis. Two years ago, Polanski also was happily working on the DVD versions of his Paramount classics “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown.” And coincidentally, two of Polanski’s friends and collaborators also were in Cannes this year — Robert Evans and Jack Nicholson — but never did the three catch up with one another! But they have via phone since Polanski’s win. And he expressed (happy) amazement at the cheering reaction he’s receiving “from all over the world” on his Cannes coup. “I had no idea!” He exclaimed joy at receiving the votes “from my peers.” He reminded, “”It took me three years to do it — and just finished a month ago.” (U Focus will distrib in the fall.) … What’s next for Polanski? “It’s such an effort to find material — financing is easy, finding material that gives you satisfaction — that’s hard…” I asked Polanski about whether he expected any reaction to his film by French anti-Semites? He was vehement in stating that there is “no virulent anti-Semitism” in France. And reminded, there are 5 million Arabs in France — and 600,000 Jews. He also echoed Woody Allen in saying, “It was ridiculous to ask people to have boycotted Cannes. The festival is international — films from Israel, Palestine as well” … While Nicholson didn’t catch up with Polanski in Cannes, he did view his current co-star Adam Sandler’s pic, “Punch-Drunk Love,” with Emily Watson. Nicholson loved it and says he’s thoroughly enjoying working with Sandler in their current pic, “Anger Management” in which he’s Sandler’s shrink. It’s a far cry from Nicholson’s character in New Line’s “About Schmidt,” which received rave reviews from Cannes, and after seeing it here, I can add many more cheers. It’s Nicholson like never before — and more. And screams for a sequel!
PICTURE THIS SCENE IN THE LOBBY of the Four Seasons Georges V hotel in Paris: Saudi Arabia’s Prince Ahmet bin Salman asking Michael Keaton for an autographed picture from the prince’s “favorite movie,” “Multiplicity,” in which Keaton clones himself — over and over. “I wish I could clone my horse,” laughed the prince. He’s the owner of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem! Keaton was in Paris meeting with CNN’s Robert Wiener, whom he portrays in HBO’s “Live From Baghdad,” the story of his reportage “live” behind enemy lines during the Gulf War — yes, with Saddam Hussein also portrayed. Keaton says this is the only story to lure him back to a leading role in two years — during which he devoted time to family life. Baghdad was reproduced in Morocco, where he reports everyone was movie-cooperative — even though the pic had banners proclaiming Saddam Hussein hanging about the city doubling for Baghdad … And talking about clones: MSNBC preems the National Geographic Explorer’s “Clone!” Sunday. It’s timely — not only because of George Lucas, thank you, but because Emmy-winning producer John Rubin reminds me, next month the Senate votes on the bill to ban cloning. The House already voted to make cloning a crime. In this docu feature, Rubin tells me Christopher Reeve makes a strong plea for therapeutic cloning. Also shown, a Sacramento woman, having failed all attempts at fertility, explains her determination to clone a child.
HONORARY ALUMS: Multi-industry award-winning producer-writer Alan Armer (“The Fugitive,” “The Untouchables”) who segued to academics and taught as a full professor at California State U., Northridge, until his retirement, receives an honorary doctorate of humane letters at commencement Friday … Writer-producer Stanley Rubin, who was editor of the UCLA Daily Bruin from 1936-1937, will be inducted into the Daily Bruin hall of fame June 6 at the Olympic Collection… Tonight’s bow of “Company” at UCLA’s Little Theater, directed by alum John Rubinstein, also will toast Ray Bolger and wife Gwen, who established the Ray Bolger Musical Theater Program with a $2.5 million trust.