The grass roots came to the lush and rolling green of Brentwood on Thursday night as People for the American Way--perhaps too long known as "Norman Lear's thing"--kicked off its organizing effort for a Southern California base. First, the crowd at Betty and Stanley Sheinbaum's--folks like Vidal Sassoon, Grace and Harold Willens, Mike Farrell, public relations exec Linda Hunt, and Dick and Judy Rosenzweig--heard writer Jimmy Breslin, concerned as usual about newspapers doing a better and more responsible job, writing more stories about the poor and minorities. Breslin suggested that "People For" sponsor an annual awards ceremony, citing newspapers that did the "worst job for their communities. They couldn't handle that."
The crowd then got to see a 17-minute film on "Televangelism." National director Tony Podesta said that "People For" was the chief lobbying force in two recent battles to turn down judicial appointments by President Reagan. He said the phone calls and letters from "People For" members helped prevent the Senate Judiciary Committee from approving Jefferson B. Sessions III as a federal district court judge--and that a similar effort would be instrumental in getting the Senate to turn down the nomination of Daniel Mannion to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "We need help and we need a lot of help and help is in the form of money--as usual," according to Sheinbaum.
MORE BICOASTAL--First Lady Nancy Reagan took the stage for a quick turn with Paul Anka, but the real star of the evening turned out to be Mary Jane Wick. Along with stars Richard Chamberlain, Jaclyn Smith and Joel Grey, she was lauded at the festival at Ford's on Sunday night in Washington as black-tie guests saluted her efforts in raising about $2.5 million for Ford's Theater endowment. In fact, the fund will now be called the Mary Jane Wick Endowment Fund. The wife of Charles Z. Wick, the head of the U.S. Information Agency, wasn't the only Californian present at the party, which itself netted $527,000. Also on hand, Armand and Frances Hammer, Donald G. Livingston with Susan Eisenhower, real-estate investor Gil Glazer (he owns the Del Amo Center for starters) with wife Diane and son Emerson, sculptor Regan Pascal, Craig and Karen Fuller (he's V.P. George Bush's chief of staff), Republican Sen. Pete Wilson and wife Gayle. Also on hand, Nevada Republican Sen. Paul Laxalt (accompanying him was his wife and the constant rumors that he is running for President).
PARTIES, PLEASE--Everyone adores Don Ameche and certainly his role in "Cocoon" makes him this year's darling of the 60-plus set. He'll be honored next Wednesday at the annual Alternative Living for the Aging Achievement Award dinner. Chairing the dinner--Lili and Richard Zanuck, the co-producers of "Cocoon." It's at the Beverly Hilton . . . Operation California (you remember, those are the people who worried about the overseas hungry before it was fashionable) is having its seventh anniversary bash at Dar Maghreb on July 14. Julie Andrews and Camilla Sparv are among the hosts for the fund-raiser. Kudos to Dar Maghreb's Pierre and Marie Dupart, who are underwriting the whole cost of the evening.
MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT OF THE WEEK--The poor New Yorker, obviously uncomfortable about attending a meeting regarding the Toxic Waste Initiative, who asked a fervent supporter if it mattered if he smoked . . .
BUT WHAT WILL HE SAY--Robin Williams will be doing his shtick at a fund-raiser July 1 for three out-of-state senatorial candidates. All Democrats, they are Rep. Tim Wirth of Colorado, Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Bob Edgar of Pennsylvania. It's at Gail Adelson's Bel-Air home.
ANOTHER HONOR FOR L.A.--Now we're the "Sex Surrogate Capital of the World" with fully 40% of all the sex surrogates residing between the desert and the sea. That's the gospel truth, according to the film "Private Practices," showing at the Nuart this weekend.