Thompson takes pol role

GOOD MORNING: Could it be? An actor is President George W. Bush’s choice to cue his leading candidate in the hearings to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. He is Fred Thompson, former (Republican) Tennessee senator whose credits range from District Attorney Arthur Branch on “Law and Order” to roles in “The Hunt for the Red October,” “Die Hard 2” and “In the Line of Fire,” in which he played the White House chief of staff. (He filmed his early “Law and Order” segs during Senate recess days.) Thompson’s name also was among those mentioned as possible successor to MPAA president Jack Valenti. He got a thumbs-up for the job from “The Sopranos'” Joe Pantoliano (current Creative Coalition co-president) who starred with Thompson in the 1994 “Baby’s Day Out.” Thompson, however, remained mum (even to Daily Variety) on the subject of the MPAA job during that search … Thompson’s allegiance to Bush was evident in a PSA he taped in 2003 supporting the war in Iraq. Citizens United backed the Thompson PSA in which he said, “Thank goodness we have a president with the courage to protect our country.” Daily Variety also quoted him in the PSA saying, “When people ask, ‘What has Saddam done to us?’ I ask, ‘What had the 9/11 hijackers done to us before 9/11?'”

MY OWN POLITICAL relationship was limited to the Bronx, where I was honored with my Walk of Fame street sign (at 161st Street and the Grand Concourse) during a one-week check of goings-on in the rest of New York. Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrion Jr. made a weekend parade of events memorable for me and my family, and I shall never forget everyone’s outpouring of kindnesses to me and the other Bronx-born awardees, including Dominic Chianese, Joseito Mateo, Ed Pinckney, Kurtis Blow, the Chiffons, Eddie Palmieri and Daniel Schorr … Showbiz yesterday, today and tomorrow was very much a part of our stay at the Hotel Carlyle where Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and the “War of the Worlds” preem party stayed — in 20 rooms. Fans and paparazzi were on hand — outside and behaving. And Cruise graciously addressed them and their patience … At night in the SRO Café Carlyle, we caught Eartha Kitt, still purring sexily at (her admitted) 78! She played many of her thigh-high, slit-skirted, single-entendre songs and we reminisced about her stands at the Mocambo in 1956! Al Sharpton was in the next night to catch Kitt. The Café Carlyle closes during the summer, but Bemelmans Bar remains open with Chris Gillespie. Elaine Stritch reopens the Café Sept. 13, Woody Allen plays Mondays and Steve Tyrell bows Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 … At Michael’s, Mel Brooks and co-writer Thomas Meehan said they were pleased after seeing a rough cut of “The Producers.” The film gets a Christmas release. Brooks and Meehan next tackle the musical of “Young Frankenstein” … At Elaine’s, Elaine Kaufman said the musicalized “Elaine’s,” starring Lainie Kazan, with book by A.E. Hotchner and music by Cy Coleman, is shaping up fabulously. Kazan ditto’d her reaction when we met up with her over the Fourth at Daphna and Richard Ziman’s Malibu beach party … At N.Y.’s Le Perigord eatery (41 years young), owner Georges Briguet regaled us with stories of his first customers — Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton … Last week at B’way’s Palace Theater, where we were enjoying “All Shook Up,” I was suddenly shaken up by a blinking red light in a row near us. Sure enough, someone was taping the show, which boasts classic Presley tunes. An usher cautioned the offender without any objection from the would-be pirate.

BEVERLY GARLAND IS recuping at home post-lung cancer surgery (June 27). The cancer was discovered in an X-ray during a routine checkup. “I’m the luckiest person in the world,” she says, and requires no post-operative treatment. Garland (79) with a dossier of more than 40 features and 700 TV films, says she wants to do PSAs to encourage all to have X-ray checkups … Barbra Streisand, Warren Beatty and ASCAP president Marilyn Bergman present Stephen Sondheim on stage at the Hollywood Bowl Friday with an award for ASCAP Foundation’s Children Will Learn program.

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