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Warner rolls out red carpet for ‘Oz’

Patrick Swayze remembered

THIS YEAR marks the 70th anniversary of the release of “The Wizard of Oz.” Warner Home Video is debuting a Blu-Ray and DVD “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” of the beloved film. So, you think they are just going to put the thing in stores with no fanfare? Silly.

On September 24th, an anniversary gala happens at NYC’s Tavern-on-the-Green. The singer Ashanti performs. Judy’s daughter Lorna Luft performs. Several of the original Munchkins are scheduled to appear. And there will be an auction of the Ruby Slipper Collection, proceeds going to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

IT’S A big week for producer, writer, actor, director Ricky Gervais (best known as the creator of the TV hit, “The Office.”)

On Wednesday night, in Manhattan’s Tribeca, the Cinema Society and Links of London played host to a screening of his latest directorial effort (with Matthew Robinson) “The Invention of Lying” starring Tina Fey, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Jason Bateman, Jonah Hill, Louis C.K. and Ricky himself.

The following day, Lynda Obst presides over a luncheon for Ricky at the Plaza Hotel’s fabled Oak Room. Ms. Obst is the film’s producer. The luncheon is put together by Peggy Siegal who can always be counted on to place the right people in the right seats to encourage productive chit-chat. Or else! (“Aren’t you two talking yet?” Peggy will admonish.) “The Invention of Lying” opens on the 25th.

MY HEART goes out to the family of Patrick Swayze, who really fought the good fight against pancreatic cancer — 20 months! This terrible disease usually takes its victims in less than half that time.

I met Patrick only once, at a Manhattan screening of the movie “City of Joy.” It was a project he very much believed in, something different from the roles that made him famous; those depended on his charm and sexy good looks as much as his talent. I remember Patrick as quite sensitive, a bit apprehensive perhaps, underneath his talking up the movie. He was very appealing, remembered something I’d written about his performance in “Ghost” and thanked me. He was wonderful-looking, though still suffering a bit from the grueling shoot in India.

Swayze was too young, too vital, too nice to have gone so soon. And despite some fame induced speed-bumps along the way, he and his beautiful wife, dancer Lisa Niemi made a successful go of their marriage for more than thirty years. In Hollywood, that alone is more than a miracle, and speaks volumes about both Patrick and Lisa.

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