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Kudos to Opening Ceremonies

GOOD MORNING and congrats Oscar nominees: We’re predicting another nominee, this time for an Emmy. It’s the 2002 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies as produced by Don Mischer and company. Monday night Mischer was rehearsing the closing show for Feb. 25. This one will include ‘N Sync, Bon Jovi, Christina Aguilera, Harry Connick Jr. and Gloria Estefan. Mischer appreciated the bouquets for the opening show but reminds, “It was a team effort.” He also reveals that they had some very close moments because the wind had destroyed several important props. But you’d never know it from the show we all saw … And if you ever need someone in showbiz to keep a secret, call Steven Spielberg. Back on Aug. 8, 2001, Mitt Romney, president-CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic Winter Games, wrote Spielberg: “On 8 Feb., 2002, the world will come together in peace, friendship and fair play as nearly 3.5 billion people around the world watch the opening ceremony of the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Our Olympic Winter Games celebrate people who have inspired others. In a surprise never before achieved by any Olympic Games, eight highly esteemed individuals who personify inspiration will carry the Olympic Flag into the stadium. These are men and women who have changed the world. We are honored to ask you to take part in this ceremony as one of eight highly respected leaders worldwide. Outside of lighting the Olympic Cauldron, which is traditionally done by an Olympian, these are the most honored roles in our opening ceremony. The eight honored guests will reflect the five continents in the Olympic Rings (Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas and Oceania) as well as the three tenants of the Olympic movement (sport, culture and environment). It is with great pleasure that I ask you to consider participating as our flag bearer representing the cultural tenant of the Olympic movement.” He added, “I hope you understand the highly confidential nature of this request.” Spielberg did. In case you didn’t catch it, the seven other Olympic flag bearers at the ceremonies were Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Kazuyoshi Funaki, Sen. John Glenn Jr., Cathy Freeman, Jean-Claude Killy, Jean-Michel Cousteau and President Lech Walesa. During his career, Spielberg has participated in many highly emotional moments associated with “Saving Private Ryan” and “Schindler’s List,” but the emotions on his face as he marched with the flag seemed to equal any past experience. Sharing the experience with him in Salt Lake were his wife, Kate, Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg and Andy Spahn … And Monday, Spielberg was directing the start of “Catch Me If You Can” on the streets of Los Angeles. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks … Also from showbiz at Salt Lake City: director Jon Turteltaub, who directed the 1993 “Cool Runnings” true story about the brave 1988 Winter Olympics bobsled team from Jamaica(!), was asked to host and m.c. the opening session of the IOC. He told the assembly from 80 countries that he understood the murmur in the hall when he was introduced. “It was 200 of them in 22 different languages asking the person next to ’em ‘Who’s he?’ ” He smiled, “I’m Robert Redford.” Then he smiled and explained who he really was. They applauded, having all seen and appreciated the film tribute to the remarkable Jamaican Olympians. Turteltaub is again at Disney, prepping “A National Treasure,” about a treasure map found on the back of the Declaration of Independence. At the exhibition of the (Norman Lear-owned) Declaration of Independence now in the Utah capitol rotunda in Salt Lake City, Secretary of State Colin Powell was swearing in John Price as our ambassador to Mauritius; Price wanted to be sworn in with his hand on the Declaration of Independence — instead of a Bible. He was.

BRUCE MCNALL IS BACK and back in showbiz. The onetime partner of David Begelman in Gladden Entertainment — merging Hollywood with sports as owner of the L.A. Kings hockey team, having brought Wayne Gretzky to the Kings from the Edmonton Oilers — has completed his 70-month term for fraud. He also was ordered to pay $5 million in restitution. A slim, smiling McNall tells me, “I still have restitution to pay down the road. It’s a long haul, but hopefully I’ll be able to do it. I pay a certain amount a month.” He is head of creative affairs for Fine Arts Entertainment, headed by Robert Geringer (the attorney who had befriended him when he was sent him to prison) and Alan Salke (with whom McNall made several movies pre-Begelman). McNall emphasizes he is not an owner in Fine Arts Entertainment, “And it’s strange for me.” The company will do “funding, film production from A-Z.” He said Tom Sizemore wants to form a company with ’em. Hollywood friends have been “so supportive to me” (during this 70-month sentence), the ever-personable McNall said. He enumerated names like Michael Eisner, Peter Guber and Richard Zanuck.

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