Viacom chief Sumner Redstone was 55 when he survived a hotel fire that left him with burns over half his body. He'd already led a fairly distinguished life as a Boston lawyer and businessman who built his father's chain of movie houses into a multimillion-dollar empire. For most people, it would be Game Over. Redstone isn't like most people.
"That was just the beginning of the game," he said as he signed copies of his new book, "A Passion to Win," at a party thrown in his honor at the Beverly Hilton by friends Aaron and Candy Spelling. Now, at 77, Redstone's worth $14 billion, according to Forbes, and he's the most powerful man in Hollywood, according to Premiere.
The fire wasn't a defining moment, insisted Redstone, known in entertainment circles as The General. It didn't transform him. "I've always been the same person. I am a driven person. I do have a passion to win. I have always been obsessed with being No. 1, whether I was a lawyer or running a big company." His big company owns CBS, Paramount, Nickelodeon and Simon & Schuster, which published Redstone's autobiography.
Guests included Shirley MacLaine, who just finished in Toronto the CBS television movie about witches in Salem. "They hung me right before I got on the plane," she said. Besides the lure of the coconut shrimp--"I love these," MacLaine said--she came "to learn how to continue walking upright from Sumner."
Carrie Fisher, hard at work on her next book, was irrepressible in a little black dress. She chatted with MacLaine and then with "7th Heaven" dad Stephen Collins. He reminded her that they'd performed together in a play in New York in 1980 and partied one wild night at Tavern on the Green. "Thanks for giving me that memory," Fisher said. "Did we make out? I once kissed Danny Aykroyd for two days. It was like being under water." Ah, the '80s. "Everyone was mad for her," Collins said.
Robert Evans, Les Moonves, Valerie Perrine and Shawn Southwick King were among the other guests.
Martin Short used to be a talk-show host. Now he plays one on TV. And, he didn't have to pull a Renee Zellweger to transform himself into rotund celebrity interviewer Jiminy Glick for his new series. Instead, he leaves it to the miracle workers in makeup to glob on mounds of prosthetic blubber.
"Everyone is obsessed with celebrity," Short told us at the premiere of his Comedy Central show, which first airs Wednesday. "I made a film with John Gielgud and he asked me, 'What do you hear about Kato Kaelin?"'
In "Primetime Glick," our hero stumbles and bumbles through interviews with Dave Thomas as 98-year-old Bob Hope; Rob Lowe as Robert Wagner; Darrell Hammond as Vice President Dick Cheney; and Chevy Chase, Billy Crystal, Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara, as themselves.
Short described Glick as a compilation of his former next-door neighbor Merv Griffin and scores of media junket reporters. "I had a guy once who came in with a sign he put on his chest that said 'Brad' so that I would keep referring to him as 'Brad,"' Short recalled. Interviews like that, Short said, are "really about their insanity."
The Court of Love
Could it be game, set and love match for a Miami prosecutor who handled a stalking case involving top-ranked tennis ace Martina Hingis? "Martina and I have a personal relationship, but anything beyond that is between her and me," Miami-Dade County Asst. State Atty. Chris Calkin told the Miami Herald over the weekend. He said the relationship blossomed after the trial.
"She's a fabulous lady. I'm happier than I've ever been," cooed the 31-year-old public servant, who makes $40,000 a year, compared to her $11-million paycheck last year.
Calkin plans to scrape together enough money to travel to Zurich later this month to visit Hingis, then on to Wimbleton, where she has invited him to watch her play.
"Dear Jerry, You're Dead. Your friend, Gary Benson."--A letter sent April 11 to Jerry Lewis in Las Vegas allegedly by a Wyoming man, who has served time in prison for stalking the entertainer. The accused stalker goes on trial this week in Las Vegas and could face five additional years in the slammer.
Bill Clinton teeing off with Jack Nicholson at the Riviera Country Club before heading up to Stanford for daughter Chelsea's graduation.... David E. Kelley, browsing at Dutton's Bookstore in Brentwood....John Cusack, dining at Granita in Malibu.... Lisa Marie Presley, traveling incognito in dark glasses and a floppy hat at the Cross Creek Shopping Center in Malibu.
Times staff writers Gina Piccalo and Louise Roug contributed to this column. City of Angles runs Tuesday-Friday. Email: http://firstname.lastname@example.org.