This year’s Emmy may be a somber event

GOOD MORNING: You don’t want the Emmy show to be too depressing, but how’re you gonna avoid recalling this past year? I’m not talking about the passing shows but about the stars who’ve passed on and who will receive note of their big contributions to the small screen. To only mention a few: John Ritter, Johnny Cash, Mr. Rogers, Robert Stack, Buddy Ebsen, and, of course Bob Hope. (Bill Cosby will receive the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award). There will be 29 awards, two more than usual. Johnny Cash will, of course, receive a special tribute on the Country Music Assn. Awards, Nov. 5 … For Saturday’s Creative Arts Primetime Emmy Awards, nominee (supporting actress in a dramatic series, “Law & Order”) Tovah Feldshuh had flown in from Israel. Although she lost, she agreed it was “thrilling to be there. It’s a night when Hollywood shines its brightest.” In Israel she’d spent a week researching for her return role as Golda Meier in “Golda’s Balcony” by William Gibson, directed by Scott Schwartz. This time on B’way’s Helen Hayes theater bowing Oct.15, having been SRO at the Manhattan Ensemble Theater in Soho for 17 weeks earlier this year. She made the trip “to capture the soul of Golda Meier.” In Israel she visited Meier’s house, the Knesset, the Temple Mount, the West Wall, the Jericho Road “where you need eyes in the back of your head,” the kibbutz where Meier lived in 1924, and talked with Shimon Peres. “I relived her life,” said Tovah, who also was witness to two suicide bombings in one day during her visit “to research” history. “This was the most fulfilling time of my life.”

HOW D’YA LIKE THAT! President Bill Clinton makes an appearance Sunday night at the First AME Church decrying the recall and supporting Gov. Gray Davis, and Monday ayem, the federal appeals court postpones the Oct. 7 election! Clinton lingered a day to have a Compton school named for him, and lunch with Ron Burkel and Demos before heading north. Meanwhile, heading west for presidential palaver, John Kerry will be feted on Wednesday, 6.p.m. at Tom Werner’s and at 8 at Jim Gianopulos’. Heavy Hollywood hitters are on the lists … And on Friday, Kerry arrives to be hosted by the Armyan Bernsteins … While Arnold and Maria teamed to guest on Oprah, Sharon (Mrs. Gray) Davis guests on “Totally Pets,” hosted by Cyndy Garvey. Davis is plugging her new children’s book, “Adventures of Capitol Kitty,” a real cat who lives outside the window of her office in Sacramento … There’s a big bash tonight at the Babylon Court in the Hollywood & Highland Complex where the cast of NBC’s “Las Vegas” plays high stakes for charity. The series star, James Caan, and I reminisced his youthful days in the real Las Vegas “Where I helped build the last wing of Caesar’s Palace,” he (now) laughs, recalling the old joke, “I drove up in a $30,000 car, and returned home in a $300,000 bus.” The surveillance room of Vegas’ Mandalay Bay was duplicated at the Culver Studio for the series, sez Caan, who assures us the series is not TV’s “Ocean’s 11” — but filled with “unpredictable stories.” Caan, making his series bow, will also be seen on the bigscreen in New Line’s “Elf” as Will Farrell’s father. Farrell, well as New Line’s “Second Hand Lions” stars Michael Caine and Robert Duvall were on hand at the table of New Line’s Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne at Monday night’s fundraiser for the Central Park Conservancy. The New Line toppers told me they’ve received terrif test screenings of “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.'” “All the store’s pay off,” they promise. The finale of the trio preems Dec. 1 in Wellington, New Zealand, and Dec. 3 in L.A., bowing Dec.17. Their sequel pix next year include “Blade 3,” and “Son of the Mask.” I asked if a third is also planned — “Grandson of the Mask”?

ON THE LONGHORN FROM LONDON, Robert Vaughn sez they were shooting the “Hustler” series for BBC-2 on Tower Bridge while directly below the film troupe was David Blaine hanging in his plastic box … One of my favorite shows, “Scrubs” locationed at Sea World in San Diego with cast members Zach Braff, Sarah Chalke, Judy Reyes and guest star (six segs) Scott Foley … George Stevens Jr. arrived from D.C. to attend Wednesday’s Acad screening of Oscar-winning ” Diary of Anne Frank.” Stevens will be escorting his mom, 98-years-young Yvonne Stevens; she started her career in vodvil. Co-stars Millie Perkins and Diane Baker will also be on hand to see the classic restored by 20th to its complete version … Joni Berry hosted a booksigning for B’way-Hollywood choreographer Bob Sidney and his “With Malice Toward Some” at the Friars Club. Sue Berger Ramin said she’s developing a movie based on Sidney’s chapter of his life during the making of “This is the Army” with Irving Berlin and the first totally integrated service unit. She said Harry Connick Jr. is attached to the project. Among those Sidney wrote about — and who were on hand: Cyd Charisse, Tony Martin, Debbie Reynolds, Mitzi Gaynor, Florence Henderson, Red Buttons, Joey Heatherton, Sid Caesar, Betty Garrett, Jack Carter, Margaret O’Brien, Ann Sterling, Neil Adams, Jeanne Martin … Sally Kellerman performs her “In One Era and Out the Other,” at the Alex in Glendale, Thursday and Friday … Merv Griffin’s Beverly Hills Country Club Celeb Tennis Tourney on Oct. 11 benefits Childhelp USA … Don Rickles joins the celeb list taping segs for the Radio City Music Hall extravaganza “Sinatra, His Voice, His World, His Way” … Jack Valenti delivers the prestigious DuBridge Lecture Oct. 2 at CalTech. Previous designees for the lecture were Warren Buffett, Walter Cronkite and John Hume … The car that drives on water currently making a big splash on TV news — is old news. Producer Stan Rubin reminds me that in 1967, Ted Flicker directed Jim Coburn in “The President’s Analyst” for Paramount. Coburn drove the car/speedboat in an escape from John Wayne’s yacht. “It worked just fine,” Rubin recalls “And we bought it for nothing.”