The presidential campaign of Sen. Gary Hart of Colorado waits in the wings while the senator builds up future chits by campaigning for Democratic candidates. But look who insiders say will sign on as national chairman of Hart for President--Charles Manatt, the popular and well-known former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Manatt, after what insiders said was months of negotiations, is now apparently ready to agree to head the effort.
"Da . . . vid Wolper. Da . . . vid Wolper," sang the chorus, to the tune of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, as the black-tie crowd for the People for the American Way screamed and shouted. " . . . And he'll produce for ever and ever . . . King of TV, and Lord of the Tube."
The crowd had brought together "conservative and liberal, Democrat and Republican," according to People founder Norman Lear, to honor the executive producer of Liberty Weekend.
Raising $100,000 for the 250,000-member organization that "promotes constitutional liberties," the good-time party Sunday night at the Music Center finally broke Lear's group out of the Malibu Mafia and made it a centerpiece in the city's fund-raising and political life.
Lear had whipped up a little extravaganza of his own, writing the kidding dialogue for Peter Falk, who said that when he was selected to present Wolper with the Spirit of Liberty Award, Wolper's office sent him a "bonanza of bio material . . . 16 pounds of magazine articles about Mr. Wolper."
Interspersed with the kidding and the Linda Ronstadt performance were sincere toasts from former President Gerald Ford and Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Congratulations "to People and the goals and objectives for which it stands," said Ford, who then cited Wolper's "superb capabilities." He and his wife, Betty, were "deeply grateful for the understanding and sensibility that you are exhibiting," in the production of the miniseries that Wolper is doing about the former First Lady's life.
Kennedy said many had come far to honor Wolper, but that he'd left the Boston Red Sox in Shea Stadium and "that is a real act of love." Elevating Wolper to the ranks of potential presidential candidates, Kennedy joked that everyone was waiting to see what the producer would do in 1988, "or at least George Bush and Gary Hart are." He praised Wolper as a "Renaissance man . . . whose greatest days are yet to come."
Earlier, Kennedy and a handful of the top honchos, including Lear's good friend Olive Behrendt, had gathered in the Founders Circle at the Music Center to chat--and to catch a few minutes of the game.
Crowding the dance floor to Les Brown and the tables in the Grand Hall were Lear's close friend Lynn Davis, Lisa Specht and Ron Rogers, Peg Yorkin hosting a table including Roz Wyman, Henry and Ginny Mancini and Jean Firstenberg, Ted and Barbara Field hosting a table that included People for the American Way's West Coast director Ramona Ripston and her husband Judge Stanley Malone, Dick Rosenzweig and Judy Henning, Grant Tinker, Rick and Loree Allen, Geoff Cowan and Aileen Adams, Bruce Corwin, Tyne Daly and Georg Stanford Brown, Sean Daniel, and new-lights on the Westside political scene, Al and Kathy Cheecki.
In presenting the award to Wolper, Ripston thanked him for "advancing the spirit of liberty . . . he has used one of the most powerful, versatile, artistic mediums of our time--television--to explore the meaning of freedom in American life."