Top politicos tapped for ‘Tanner’

GOOD MORNING: When the Democonvention blasts off in Boston July 26-29, Robert Altman and his “Tanner on Tanner” troupe will be there. He and scripter Garry Trudeau will be lensing an impressive list of the top politicos as part of three new segs of the series which first aired on HBO in 1988 “Tanner’88.” It has returned on the Sundance Channel with up-to-date wraparounds by the three principals — Michael Murphy, Pamela Reed and Cynthia Nixon — explaining the current re-entry into the political fray. Filming of the new segs starts July 12 in N.Y. with locations including Elaine’s, one of Altman’s favorite hangouts. Among those already committed to appear are Robert Redford (who will next star in “The Candidate” for WB), Mario Cuomo, Madeleine Albright, Martin Scorsese, Harry Belafonte, Rev. Al Sharpton, Carl Bernstein, Al Franken, Ron Reagan. At the convention, Altman also hopes to tape Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry (whom Altman knows “quite well”) giving political advisories. In the first series, among those on camera were Pat Robertson, Bob Dole, and Gary Hart. About the new, renewed project, Altman tells me, “Everyone is even more supportive that in ’88. I couldn’t be more thrilled.” He laughingly admitted of the celebs’ participation, “We don’t tell them what to say. We give them freedom in our fiction so we never know how it’ll turn out.” The new segs will be delivered in October for airing pre-election, natch. Wren Arthur and Matthew Seig produce for Altman’s banner … Michael Murphy (“Tanner”) also stars in John Sayles’ upcoming feature “Silver City,” this time playing a right wing senator from Colorado who is positioning his son (Chris Cooper) to run for governor. “Does that ring a bell?” Murphy asked me. The “Silver City” trailer is skedded to run on “Fahrenheit 9/11” screens. Murphy also stars in the Canadian series “H20” — about a U.S. takeover of Canada — well as the CBC series, “The Wonderland.”

ALEXANDRA KERRY, award-winning grad of AFI, is in London talking to prospective backers for two new dramatic scripts. She tells me she has also been shooting a documentary during the campaign and yes, she does know Altman. “He is my idol.” She wings in from England Friday as she and sister Vanessa join up with their father on the campaign trail in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa for the Fourth of July weekend. Vanessa, who wound classes Tuesday at Harvard Medical School, tells me she’s taking three months off to campaign after which she moves to London to get a degree in global health. The Kerry sisters then wing to L.A. to head the Tuesday’s John Kerry fundraiser at the Henry Fonda Theater. The site’s appropriate as Fonda was a staunch Demo-supportive thesp and I once traveled with him on a campaign trail for Harry Truman. The program at the Fonda to get out the young vote will boast appearances by Leonardo DiCaprio, Christina Applegate, Colin Hanks, Jon Lovitz, Scarlett Johansson, Jason Biggs, Lucas Haas and William C. Macy and performances including Tenacious D, Liz Phair and Dave Grohl. The show’s music is produced by Mitchell Frank of the Silver Lake nitery Spaceland and Ben Cooley; overall producer is Kristina Schake. The Kerry sisters tell me their lifelong friend Nancy Baker Cahill of Boston was instrumental in launching this show. Ducats at $150 can be obtained on www.johnkerryjuly6.com.

THE 31ST ANNUAL VISION Awards, held Sunday at the BevHilton, raised $400,000 to help find a cure for Retinitis Pigmentosa. KTLA’s Mindy Barbano graciously agreed to cohost with me when another had to bow out at the last moment. Among the many awardees, Laurence Fishburne reminded all, “We’re so fortunate as visual artists to have the opportunity to dream, not only to have vision, but to actually see these things come to life.” SAG president and honoree Melissa Gilbert was introduced by her sister, Sara Gilbert. Other presenters included Bob Saget, Paul Michael Glaser, Hank Azaria, Kasi Lemmons, Alan Thicke, Anthony Anderson, Jeffrey Kwatinetz, Debra Wilson and Diane Ladd. … George Putnam celebrates his 90th birthday — and 70 years in broadcasting — July 14 with friends attending his party including Herb Jeffries and Rod McKuen … Photog Gene Trindl, whose s star portraits graced more TV Guide covers than anyone, passed away Tuesday at Tarzana Medical Center of respiratory failure … Katie Wagner , a regular on the TV Guide Channel for 4½ years, departs for 20th Century Fox TV with a development deal for her own show … Dan Tana, who played on the Yugoslavia soccer team in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, is now president of the International Committee of the Soccer Federation of Serbia and Montenegro, whose team is heading to play in the Olympics, Aug. 11-28. Tana’s landmark eatery on Santa Monica celebrates its 40th anni Oct. 1. Over the years, celeb regulars have included, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and the back room has hosted members of the music world including Mariah Carey, Bruce Springsteen, the Eagles, Neil Diamond, Three Dog Night, Neil Sedaka, etc … The “Capitol 4th” program July 4 (8 p.m. PBS) on the lawn of the Capitol features a tribute to Ray Charles by Cicely Tyson. Barry Bostwick hosts and the National Symphony backs the many performers. Walter C. Miller produces, his daughter Deborah directs.

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