If you liked the television spots, you loved the dinner. Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin and CBS/Broadcast Group President Gene Jankowski last night celebrated the seventh anniversary of the day the book met the tube.
The black-tie seated dinner for 200 honored the participants of the "Read More About It" television spots. A great diversity of people came to praise the word, read and spoken, in the muraled and mosaicked Beaux Arts Library of Congress Great Hall, a setting worthy of "Masterpiece Theatre."
Jankowski announced a new series of one-minute Library of Congress/CBS spots called "It's a Fact in the Library of Congress," to run every weekday at 3:58.
Lights, action, words:
Publisher Michael Bessie, an editor of David Stockman's upcoming book, said several hundred pages had already come in from the former budget chief. "It's what we've been hoping for," he said. He said Stockman had been a campus radical and a Cabinet conservative. "And I suspect his experience has moderated both views."
Miguel de Cervantes in 1605-15 foresaw the need for the CBS/Library of Congress collaboration, Boorstin said in his after-dinner speech, which was carried on TV monitors around the mezzanine of the Great Hall. Cervantes in "Don Quixote" warned "against any single window on the world," Boorstin explained.
"We face new perils: TV myopia, mistaking the image in our living room for the reality out there. TV mystopia, mistaking the horrors on the screen for the horrors out there." Worst of all, he said, is confusion "between what the medium . . . says is real and what is really real." We need both views of the world, he concluded, television and books.
Chief Justice Warren Burger first learned he was to speak when Boorstin asked him just before the first course. It didn't matter, Burger had a story. "When I was in the fourth grade, I had polio. My teacher, knowing I wouldn't read a mathematics book, sent home novels, biographies, geographies. I learned more that year than ever." His own sons, he said, overcame dyslexia to be great readers.
At theater critic Richard Coe's urging, Helen Hayes told friends her opal and diamond necklace was a gift for her 85th birthday from Lillian Gish. "D.W. Griffith gave it to her because she almost froze to death on the ice floe in 'Way Down East.' "
Actors on reading:
Lance Kerwin, star of "James at 15" and the upcoming "Deadline," said he didn't learn to read well until he had to read aloud to learn acting.
Barry Bostwick, who read much about George Washington before playing the first president in a mini-series, confessed: "Now if you said George to me, I'd say, George Who?" Next week he's trying out for a part in Shirley MacLaine's "Out on a Limb." So he's reading up on the occult.
Actors on acting:
Jean Stapleton said she was just back from England, where she filmed an Agatha Christie movie with Peter Ustinov. "I have a Miss Marple wig, will travel, but so far nobody has called me," she said.
Anglophile Douglas Fairbanks Jr., just back from a BBC cameo role, teasing, said he didn't have to go see "Treasure Houses of Britain." "I've seen it all in the houses."
Writers on writing:
Novelist Louis L'Amour admitted his new book, coming out in the spring, still doesn't have a title.
Barry Morrow, who wrote the story of "Bill" for TV, said his next film is about the late singer Karen Carpenter.
At the end of the evening, waiting for his chauffeur, who was snarled in the stars' limousine line, compulsive reader Burger looked over the reading material at the (closed) library sales counter.