GOOD MORNING: “The film rights are up for grabs,” Erin Brockovich told me Wednesday as she and Ed Masry ready their litigation “against the City of Beverly Hills, the Beverly Hills School District and three oil companies.” The plaintiffs are students and ex-students of Beverly Hills High who are being treated for various cancers that the court case will claim were caused by the air pollution in/around the school’s playing field and stands and emanating from the operational oil derrick “and 18 well heads” on the campus. “We have confirmed 75 cases and added three more cancers today,” Brockovich said. The case will attempt to prove the city and oil companies’ failures. Masry admitted, “This is the first time we’ve had a toxic case in an affluent area.” Julia Roberts and Albert Finney are you ready for “Erin Brockovich in Beverly Hills”?
“THE PIANIST’S” ( WLADYSLAW SZPILMAN’S) music lives on — with lyrics in English. I spoke with his son Andrzej (46) by phone from Germany where he is readying the publication of his father’s songbook in three weeks. He had written more than 500 songs — some of which Andrzej says he discovered written “on little bits of paper in coffee bars.” Wladyslaw died July 6, 2000, when Roman Polanski was preparing to film “The Pianist.” The songbook, published by Boosey and Hawkes will include English lyrics by Larry John McNally, David Batteau and Arthur Schlosser and Oscar-nominated (theme from “Rocky”) Carol Connors. Her songs are titled, “Handle With Care” and “Lost Inside My Dream.” Connors has something in common with the Szpilman family — her Polish grandmother’s entire family was murdered in Treblinka. Carol met with Andrzej in Hollywood last month and he returns in March to discuss names to record his father’s songs with the English lyrics. I asked Andrzej his opinion of the film. “I am very grateful to Roman Polanski. It (the film) is a monument to all victims of the holocaust.” As for his opinion on Adrien Brody, who portrays his father, “It was a great performance of a character so familiar to me. He was warm, great and I was very moved by him.” Andrzej was present during the filming, his 10-year-old son played a role. He says Polanski avoided any personal publicity — did not even have photographers around during his pre-filming meetings with Wladyslaw … And now for those who want to confuse and confound Polanski’s history with his filmmaking, I would like to recall the April 1997 “Polanski” article by Jill Robinson in Vanity Fair. She wrote “Early in February (1978) Howard W. Koch was in the bathroom at Hillcrest Country Club, when he overheard (Judge Laurence J.) Rittenband ‘grandstand’ about how he was going to put Polanski away ‘for a hundred years … for the rest of his life’.” Koch who was a well-respected member of the community, producer of many films, head of Paramount Studios, president of the Academy and a producer of Oscar shows, “called Polanski and told him to get out of town as fast as possible. Not long after, L.A. police reportedly found Polanski’s Mercedes abandoned at LAX.” I phoned Robinson (daughter of Dore Schary, mother of Jeremy Zimmer and author of eight books including “Star Country”) in London to confirm the above. She did so emphatically, saying “That’s exactly what Koch told me.” Both Jill and I agreed if there was a guilty person in this case, it was the girl’s mother … It is sad that justice was predisposed to be so harsh to someone who had already suffered so much and who continues to have so much to give.
“DINNER OF CHAMPIONS” honorees will be Bob and Harvey Weinstein at this year’s (Sept. 25) gala benefiting the Southern Calif. Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Tom Sherak chairs — for the 11th consecutive year. Joe Roth and Rick Sands co-chair … Pierre Cossette happily reported equipment finally got into Madison Square Garden Wednesday to set up for Sunday’s Grammys. And last night pals were able to make it to Elaine’s for the launch of Pierre’s autobio, “Another Day in Show Biz, One Producer’s Journey.” Another will be held at Sardi’s Wednesday, and in L.A., March 20 at Brioni … Pat Kerr Tigrett parties Memphis Grammy nominees at a China Club brunch Saturday … The “new” Ladies’ Home Journal was partied at Spago with its March issue cover girl Emmy-winner (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) Patricia Heaton. Editor in chief Diane Salvatore proudly told of the mag’s increased sales and circulation and emphasis on “the home” — and retaining one of its favorite features, “Can This Marriage Be Saved.” Mebbe, “Should This Marriage Be Saved”? … The Colleagues raised more than $300,000 for Children’s Institute International at the Saks Fifth Ave.-Mercedes Benz lunch introducing Oscar de la Renta and his spring 2003 collection. Member Nancy Reagan introduced L.A.’s new police chief, William J. Bratton … A service for Jack Brodsky will be held noon today at Eden Memorial Park, 11500 Sepulveda Blvd. in Mission Hills … A memorial service for Vernon Scott will be held Saturday in the Magnin Theater of the Skirball Cultural Center of West L.A. … Suzanne Lloyd will be showing fully restored (with new scores) Harold Lloyd’s “The Freshman,” “Kid Brother” and “Safety Last” at the HBO Comedy Film Fest in Aspen, Tuesday-March 2. Her book’s titled, “Master Comedian” … Tim Robbins, class of ’82, is UCLA’s alumnus of the year. The presentation’s May 17 … A concert version of “City of Angels” plays Palm Desert’s McCallum Theater tonight through Sunday with Larry Gelbart overseeing this version of his play musicked by Cy Coleman and David Zippel. Joe Leonardo directs. Hal Linden stars.