Remembering Kennedy’s win in 1960

GOOD MORNING: As the curtain falls tonight on the Democonvention and its Hollywood cast in Boston, I recall another Hollywood-hoopla’d politico party. The date was July 13, 1960 and the convention was at L.A.’s Sports Arena. On that last night, John F. Kennedy beat out Adlai Stevenson. In my column of July 15, 1960, “I was on the platform many of the nominating hours — also on this platform, behind the speakers were Peter Lawford, Tony Curtis and Frank Sinatra who had been on their feet quietly watching the proceedings from this excellent vantage point since 3 p.m. The Hollywood group was in such force at this political decision, a Democratic victory should make for an administration more sympathetic to the problems of showbiz — domestic and foreign.” The party Friday night in the L.A. Memorial Coliseum at which Kennedy and veepee nominee Lyndon Johnson made their acceptance speeches, included Steve Allen as m.c., Frank Sinatra, Mort Sahl, Edward G. Robinson, Phyllis Kirk, Vincent Price, Mercedes McCambridge, Jan Sterling, Barry Sullivan, Shirley MacLaine, Ralph Bellamy and Lee Marvin. … At Monday night’s toast to Sen. Edward Kennedy at Boston’s Symphony Hall, John Williams conducted the Boston Symphony and performers included Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Yo-Yo Ma, Bono, Glenn Close and Ben Affleck, who presented Kennedy with a white jacket — in which to conduct the orch in “Stars And Stripes Forever.” Kennedy zoomed over to the hall from the Convention where his speech was bigscreen’d to guests in the Symph Hall. The showbiz group applausing him there included Mark Canton, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, George Stevens Jr. (wife Liz is on the convention platform organizing committee). Stevens met in Boston with “An American Requiem, God, My Father, and the War That Came Between Us” author James Carroll, who is scripting his book with Tim Willocks as a Stevens feature. Also at the Kennedy salute in Boston was Vernon Jordan — John Kerry has asked him to negotiate with the Republicans on the upcoming presidential debates. He’s agreed … Bill Clinton, who has book signing dates in Ireland and China, will be back in time for hefty campaigning for Kerry.

KENNETH FELD HAS concluded a TV production deal with Vin DiBona to partner in producing Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey reality TV shows — specials and series. The development deal is a whole new business for the Feld organization. ABC may ultimately be involved as well. Meanwhile, Feld is rehearsing the “Finding Nemo on Ice” to bow in the N.Y. area Nov. 16. It’s the 25th Disney on Ice show — six companies are now touring the world. He also has the first “Winnie the Pooh and the Perfect Day” company on tour in New Zealand and Australia and headed to the U.S. in the Fall of ’05. His current 134th edition of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, boasts his daughter Nicole as producer with him. Also the clown prince of the show, David Larible, is being groomed for a one-man show on B’way.

DID HE KILL a G.I. member of his company? No, I’m not talking about a subplot of “The Manchurian Candidate”? It’s the theme of a seg of the upcoming season of Don Bellisario’s series, “NCIS.” This one’s set in WWII at Iwo Jima with Charles Durning as the vet who, 60 years later, turns himself in, believing he murdered his buddy — and has kept it a secret all these years. Durning, who won the Silver Star and three Purple Heart medals as a member of the Rangers in both the landing at Omaha beach and the Battle of the Bulge, has a new look in this show — he has lost 87 pounds. Over the coming weekend, he also jets to N.Y for a reading of a new, hoped-for B’way-bound play, “Golf With Alan Shepard.” Remember, astronaut Shepard hit a golf ball while on the moon. The play’s a comedy about its recovery, sez Durning … Dick Wolf has often admitted he gets his ideas for his (many ) series from today’s headlines and the seg in which Dennis Farina starts his regular role maintains Wolf’s credo. Farina plays an NYPD police detective (replacing Jerry Orbach’s cop) and his first case involves the murder of a soldier, back in N.Y. from the Iraq war. The question: Was he murdered for what may have been his involvement with Iraqui prisoners? Farina will also be seen as an L.A. cop in “Paparazzi” and as a womanizer in HBO’s “Empire Falls” with Paul Newman, Helen Hunt, Ed Harris and company. And is talking playing a killer in the indie feature “The Merry Gentleman” for South Water Pictures to film in his hometown, Chicago.

‘WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION’ gets closer to the starting gate now that director Milos Forman’s back in the U.S. and in talks with Dan Melnick, who exec produces, Dan Rissnere and Marion Rosenberg producing the MGM’er. Mathew Prichard, Agatha Christie’s grandson who runs the Christie estate, told Rosenberg the script by David E. Kelley “is the best adaptation of any of his grandmother’s works.” Agatha Christie is the most read author in the English language — outside of Shakespeare — and the Bible. As for the casting — those who’ve read Kelley’s script say Michelle Pfeiffer would be perfect in the role played by Marlene Dietrich. And who to fill Charles Laghton’s shoes? … Alex Gorton, portrayed by Jeff Goldblum in Showtime’s “Spinning Boris” as the American politico strategist who showed Yeltsin how to win an (1996) election, is again a major character in A&E’s “See Arnold Run” as Schwarzenegger’s spin doctor in Schwarzenegger’s 2003 campaign. This time he’s portrayed by Alex Hyde-White in the movie — a “fly on the wall” report on Arnold’s campaign. Hyde-White says he hopes Maria Shriver “won’t be angry with me” — they both have children in the same school. Don’t worry, Maria, Alex sez he also voted for your husband. “It was such a part of American pop-culture,” Hyde White tells me, “How could you not vote for him?” And yes, he’s met Arnold — at a party at Warren Beatty’s house. Jurgen Prochnow plays Arnold as governor … Actress Kathleen Hughes and director Stanley Rubin celebrated their 50th wedding anni Tuesday at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas — gifted by their four children who also showed up (from L.A., Boston, Toronto and Rio) to surprise ’em at a Spago (Vegas) anni dinner … Mickey and Jan Rooney celebrated their 26th wedding anni July 26 and bow at the Irish Repertory Theater in Chelsea (N.Y.) Aug. 10-Sept. 12 … Darrah Meeley bows her docu “Edgar Cayce, The Beautiful Dreamer” at BevHills Music Hall tonight. … Richard Dreyfuss returned to “Sly Fox” on B’way after giving a dozen interviews at the Convention to TV and radio — including Al-Jazeera.

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