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Hanks launches ‘The Pacific’

Tom Hanks with Iwo Jima veteran Bob Johnston of Woburn at a screening of HBO’s “The Pacific’’ at the JFK Library last night. Tom Hanks with Iwo Jima veteran Bob Johnston of Woburn at a screening of HBO’s “The Pacific’’ at the JFK Library last night. (Bill Brett for The Boston Globe)
By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / March 4, 2010

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Tom Hanks’s promotional trek for the HBO miniseries “The Pacific’’ brought him to the Hub last night for a special screening at the JFK Library and Museum. Among the invited guests was a group of veterans with whom the Oscar-winning actor bantered and posed for pictures on the red carpet. The 10-part series, premiering on March 14 and chronicling battles at Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima among others, is Hanks and co-producer Steven Spielberg’s second World War II-themed effort for HBO, following 2001’s “Band of Brothers.’’ Hanks said the pair may not be done yet, based on the volume of mail they get from veterans interested in seeing their tales told. He had to skedaddle before the screening to catch a flight to New York for more interviews, but Hanks was excited for the Oscars on Sunday night. “I don’t know what I’m presenting, but I’m presenting something,’’ he said. His only advice to cohosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin? “Don’t say [expletive].’’

Taking sides on Mass. film tax credit
The lines are drawn on the debate over the state’s film tax credit program, which Governor Deval Patrick is proposing to cap in an effort to reduce the Bay State’s burgeoning budget gap. At a crowded State House hearing yesterday, opponents of Patrick’s plan said the flood of film and TV projects has been beneficial, and not because we get to gawk at Anne Hathaway, Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, and Christopher Walken while they’re filming around town. “No one’s starstruck here. I have no interest in being in a movie,’’ Tim Kirwan, GM of the InterContinental Boston, told us afterward. “This is about business.’’ Is it ever. The InterContinental and other local hotels have hosted those Hollywood casts and crews. Patrick is proposing to cap the tax credit at $50 million a year, down from about $125 million, and the governor’s got a supporter in Michael Widmer, president of the Mass. Taxpayers Foundation. “In my 20 years at the foundation . . . I would say this is probably the most costly tax credit with the least economic benefit in my experience,’’ said Widmer. TV producer Michael Maschio, who worked “Spenser: For Hire’’ back in the day, said he’s in town shooting a pilot for ABC pilot, which could generate as much as $2 million per episode for the state. “We wouldn’t be here with this show if it were not for the tax incentives,’’ he told lawmakers. “It will leave in a heartbeat if we don’t get this tax credit.’’

Guru’s dad speaks out
Despite what friends and supporters are tweeting, Gang Starr’s Guru - a.k.a. Keith Elam - is still in a coma and his condition is “touch and go.’’ So says Harry Elam, the 88-year-old father of the hip-hop pioneer who grew up in Dorchester. We reached the elder Elam in Buzzards Bay, where the retired Massachusetts judge lives alone. (His wife, Barbara, is in a nursing home.) Elam told us he’s upset about the “misinformation’’ tweeted by Guru’s former musical partner, DJ Premier. “Why is someone who has not spoken to my son in 10 years talking about his medical condition?’’ said Guru’s dad. Harry Elam said his son was originally hospitalized for complications from back surgery and, as far as he knows, his son has not had heart surgery. (DJ Premier tweeted that Guru had successful surgery.) “Keith is seriously ill,’’ said his father, who is relying on reports from his other children. “You never think this is going to happen to you.’’

Walkers team up in play
Veteran TV journalist Liz Walker continues to reinvent herself, this time teaming with her talented son, Nick, on a new theater production company. Called the People’s Theatre Lab, the new company kicks off March 20 with a reading of Nick’s play, “The Devil and Thomas Briggs,’’ which is described as a blues fable about a man who’s willing to give up everything to save his brother’s soul. (Proceeds from the reading at Brookline High’s Robert/Dubbs Auditorium benefit Haiti.) The play has its New York premiere in April at the Theaters at 45 Bleecker St. A Brookline High alum, Nick Walker will graduate this spring from the Tisch School of Arts at NYU.

Lumet breaks the silence about Demme
After more than a day of celebrations in Brookline, director Jonathan Demme accepted the Coolidge Award at the Coolidge Corner Theatre on Tuesday. Serving as emcee for the festivities was screenwriter Jenny Lumet, whose first feature, “Rachel Getting Married,’’ was directed by Demme in 2008. Lumet, who’s Sidney Lumet’s daughter and Lena Horne’s granddaughter, told us that working with Demme on “Rachel’’ was a dream - except for the constant nausea. “I was pregnant for the entire shooting of ‘Rachel Getting Married,’ ’’ Lumet said, laughing at the memory of running to the bathroom during table reads. Asked what most people don’t know about the “Silence of the Lambs’’ director, Lumet grinned and said, “He has an addiction to White Castle hamburgers.’’ Lumet’s latest project is the Robert Pattinson movie “Remember Me,’’ although you won’t see Lumet’s name in the writing credits. The coming-of-age drama was penned by Will Fetters. Lumet was asked to do rewrites on the script for director Allen Coulter. Lumet told us that her work on “Remember Me’’ involved spending quality time with Pattinson, whom she lovingly calls a “muffin.’’ “He is an enormous presence and he is not like other people,’’ she said, of the “Twilight’’ star. “There’s a reason why there’s all of this stuff around him. I generally believe that even if you have one antenna, you’d pick him up.’’ The list of entertainers who joined Lumet to honor Demme included author Walter Mosley, producer Roger Corman, playwright and actress Beth Henley, cinematographer Tak Fujimoto, and actor Bill Irwin, who costarred in “Rachel Getting Married.’’

JT and Diaz to costar
Real-life exes Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz have signed on to costar in a movie written by a Needham-bred funny guy. “Bad Teacher,’’ a dark comedy about a competitive middle school teacher (Diaz), was penned by Needham’s own Lee Eisenberg, who also writes and produces “The Office’’ and is working on a script for the next installment of “Ghostbusters.’’ Eisenberg wrote “Teacher’’ with his “Office’’ writing partner Gene Stupnitsky. Signing on to play the gym teacher in “Bad’’ is Jason Segel, who’s a local by association; his grandpa founded Mr. Sid’s in Newton Centre.

Mustaches that serve a purpose
Kudos to Community Servings for coming up with oddball ways to raise money. Last night, the organization, which delivers healthy meals to the critically ill, hosted a “Mustachio Bashio,’’ a party that had men showing off their mustaches for the cause. The 43 Sponsor My ’Stache participants, who have been growing soup strainers throughout February, gathered at Barbershop Deluxe on Columbus Avenue for a group trim, and then partied at City Table in the Back Bay where “TV Diner’’ host Jenny Johnson judged their facial hair.

Jwoww in the house
The nightclub scene hasn’t grown tired of MTV’s hit reality show “Jersey Shore.’’ Estate, whose owners recently brought “Jersey’’ personality Snooki (Nicole Polizzi) down to the MGM Grand at Foxwoods, has booked Snooki’s friend Jenni “Jwoww’’ Farley for an appearance at the Boston club on Saturday. Jwoww will arrive sometime after 10 p.m. Most likely, she’ll do some mingling with fans. For those who don’t know, Jwoww made news earlier this week by filing paperwork to trademark her nickname.

Women for Haiti
The Celtics Women's Group will be at Saks Fifth Avenue this weekend to benefit Haiti. The gals - Corinne Grousbeck, Shannon Allen, Brandi Garnett, and Rajon Rondo's girlfriend Ashley Bachelor, among others - are handing out 15% off shopping passes, which will in turn kick back 5% of sales to UNICEF for Haiti. Here's the catch: It's an RSVP event, so, if you're interested, call (617) 266-7534 ext. 105. Be advised, space is limited...Meanwhile, word is the C's women are also putting together a concert benefiting UNICEF March 25 at the House of Blues. Allen, a fine singer in her own right, has enlisted Boyz II Men to performing - for free. As an organization, the Celts raised $100,000 immediately after the earthquake.. . . . Sudbury snowboarder Tyler Jewell returned from the Olympics empty-handed, but he was honored at last night’s Celtics game.

Rumpus room
How do you bless a room at Berklee? With music, of course. New Orleans jazz sax player and Berklee College of Music alum Donald Harrison, who has played with talents from Lena Horne to the Notorious B.I.G., stopped by the school this week to bless Berklee’s new Africana Studies center. Joining Harrison for the blessing were percussion players Themba Mkhatshwa and Joseph C. Dyson Jr.

Read the Names blog at www.boston.com/namesblog. Names can be reached at names@globe.com or at 617-929-8253.