Kirk Douglas was honored as “An Ambassador For Humanity” by the Shoah Foundation Institute Wednesday evening at USC. The Foundation’s record of reminding the world of the horrors of the Holocaust and the Rwandan Tutsi Genocide were emotionally chronicled during the evening by films of survivors of both. These honors further encouraged honoree Douglas to note, “Right now I am concerned about my campaign to institute a formal apology for slavery. The egregious treatment of another human being before and after the Civil War should not be forgotten. The United States should issue a formal apology.”
Film clip tributes of Douglas’ courageous career were screened during the evening and further closeups closed the program with Steven Spielberg’s sensaysh intertwining of the titles of Douglas films. Spielberg produced the evening. Host Billy Crystal displayed his terrific talents as host. It reminded us how much he’s been missed as the Oscars’ host. Is a return possible?
The audience was also treated to a Bette Midler and the Harlettes mini-show. Midler said “Sarah Palin wishes she could see Israel from her house.” She was occasionally perhaps too spicy for some of this audience not familiar with her repartee. But all applauded her finale theme, “You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings.”
Douglas, Spielberg and Crystal interwove their lives and careers — and close relationships — over the years. Sharing the evening with Kirk was wife Anne and sons Joel And Peter (Michael was in N.Y. filming “Solitary Man”). Wallis Annenberg, last year’s Ambassador for Humanity, delivered a powerful welcoming speech. And USC’s Howard Gillman and the Shoah Foundation’s Kim Simon reminded all there are 52,000 Holocaust testimonials in the Shoah archives at USC where it will become “the world’s premier authority on the documentation of man’s inhumanity to man.”
TNT was the “presenting sponsor” of the evening and execs on hand included Steve Koonin, President of Turner Entertainment Networks, Sr. V.P. Michael Wright, and V.P. Sam Linsky. Spielberg is planning two more dramatic series with ’em. And has already met on story development — one futuristically different for tv. Spielberg had been (anonymously) involved in a Barack Obama campaign film — and told me he was impressed by the work on it by Leonardo DiCaprio… Bulgari was again an annual partner of the evening and creator of the unique award. All agreed Kirk Douglas is, indeed, Spartacus.