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Barbra sings White House blues

GOOD MORNING: I am so glad to be feeling great again, because I wouldn’t have missed Sunday night’s concert at the Kodak starring Barbra Streisand for anything. This gig was the National Democratic Gala and Barbra made it a convincing night to benefit all Americans. She even quoted Shakespeare (“Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor — for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword.”) Barbra also borrowed from Alan & Marilyn Bergman to rewrite lyrics to their (and Marvin Hamlisch’s) “The Way We Were.” She chirped, “Scattered pictures of the house we left behind/Lovely Democratic mem’ries of the way we were.” She then segued into “Mis’ries — seems that’s all that fill the news/Blame the fella in the White House for the way we ARE! So, in November, let’s make the congress a Democratic Congress–The way we were, the way we were.” Before starting, she admitted to the packed house, “You know I don’t like to perform anymore, but I’d do anything to help the Democrats win back the House!” She received a standing ovation before walking onstage, plus repeated ovations during and, of course, at the close.

BARBRA SEEMED TOTALLY AT EASE. She glided across the stage in a full, flowing bouffant gown that made her even more imposing when her greater-than-glorious voice rang out in numbers like “My Funny Valentine,” “Little Boy Blue,” “The Shadow of Your Smile.” She said, “Some day I’d like to do an entire bossa nova album” and exchanged light patter with show producer (whatta job!) David Foster on a stage flanked with 10 flowing white curtains lighted with differing colors to meet the mood of the songs. A giant U.S. flag draped the shimmering stage backdrop as Barbra and a choir joined on Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” She introduced Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.), who thanked the performers. He acknowledged that he receives faxes from Streisand, “while the Republicans get faxes from Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson.” He admitted, “I have never felt so strong about an election in my life” and apologized to his wife for coming home at night, screaming. “But if you were locked up in a building all day with those (Republican) nuts, you’d be screaming, too!”

WOLFGANG PUCK’S PLATOONS were busy all night with the pre-party reception plus the after-show supper in the Grand Ballroom. (Wolfie was also busy Friday with his Meals on Wheels charity; whatta guy!) … In the Kodak, we sat alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus (returns midseason for NBC) and her husband, Brad Hall, and in front of environmentalist par excellence Ed Begley Jr. At the dinner we sat alongside AFI’s Jean Picker Firstenberg and Roz Wyman (the first L.A. councilwoman, whose credits include chairing the Demo Convention in S.F.). Also at our table, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the youngest femme member to achieve the highest post in the House. She’s no stranger to Hollywood, with friends including the Kirk Douglases … David Foster introduced his latest talent find, Michael Brube (pronounced Brubay), with whom he completed a WB album. Steve Harvey was the evening’s m.c. who mused about the fact there were 10 donors who contributed $250,000 apiece. “For $250,000 Barbra Streisand would have to sing to me alone — on stage.” The Three Mo’ Tenors brought the house to its feet for their remarkable voices, from opera to hip-hop. Barry Manilow performed generously and volunteered to appear anytime for the Dems … And I’d go anywhere again to hear Barbra perform like she did Sunday. She was courageous, convincing, spellbinding!

“NEWMAN HERE,” was the voice on the phone Saturday night as Newman, as in Paul, called to inquire about my health as he was about to go on stage in “Fandango III” at the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang camp in Connecticut. Newman, Joanne Woodward and friends raised $949,000, bringing to $10 million the amount they’ve raised for the camps for kids with incurable maladies. Paul was in drag for his role, as were Kevin Kline and Ben Vereen. Paul joked to me, “Joanne once said, ‘If you want to keep your husband, put him in a dress!’ ” The show was written by Newman’s Own partner A.E. Hotchner, with an all-star cast … A sad note, Harvey Silbert, one of the town’s leading humanitarians and longtime chairman of the American Friends of the Hebrew U., died Saturday. Services will be held at noon today at Hillside. He personally brought delegations to Israel to encourage awareness and support. He received countless honors from civic groups in both the legal and showbiz fraternities. Over the years he represented studio heads and stars dating back to Howard Hughes with the firm of Wyman, Bautzer, Rothman, Silbert & Kuchel. He built and owned the Riviera in Las Vegas.

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