‘Cliffhanger’ sees some (illegal) action

GOOD MORNING: Five masked and armed robbers had just left the “Cliffhanger” office at Cinecitta with $250,000 in cash when director-co-producer Renny Harlin phoned us. “Well, this is an action-adventure movie, what can I say?” said Harlin. Howcum there was so much cash in the safe? “In Italy you have to be prepared,” he reminded. Cash often makes the difference in getting things done in Italy. “And this is a big movie,” he added. (In the $40 million class.) “It’s a scary reminder that these are scary times.” … Harlin had just completed a scene in which Sylvester Stallone had fallen from a wall 20 feet high (into an air bag). “We did it in one take and it was perfect.” Stallone is A-OK after last month’s accident, Renny reported. The pic has 13 days left to shoot and is on sked now, having been stopped by snowstorms in Cortina. They were insured for the delay. “I learned my lesson from ‘Die Hard 2,’ ” he said, recalling they traveled across the U.S. and Canada trying to find snow–to no avail and no insurance. … TriStar releases the Carolco film in the spring. Mario Kassar has been visiting the set and Renny’s also given him the final draft (by David Williamson) for their next, “Warriors of the Rainbow,” the Greenpeace-themed movie that focuses on the early ’70s work of Bob Hunter and Greenpeace. Asked about Carolco financing, Harlin said, “Mario and I don’t talk money–but we’ve had no problems with it and I love working with him. He doesn’t interfere.””Rainbow” will start as soon as Harlin winds “Cliffhanger.””My life’s mission is to make that movie,” he told me. “I hope it will attract a name star. I want to make movies of substance–that will entertain and make people think.” He hopes John Lithgow, currently co-starring in “Cliffhanger,” will be in it, also Laura Dern, who he says has been a longtime supporter of Greenpeace. Harlin then follows with “The Original Gangster” at WB. It deals with black L.A. gangs in the ’60s and with one of the founders of the Crips. Richard Dilello is scripting. I asked Harlin if the movie’s is still a go in view of the May riots. “This story is about making peace instead of violence,” he said.

SHOWBIZ AND POLITIX: Former D.C. Mayor Marion Berry, who enters the Sept. 15 Councilmanic primaries, breakfasted with producer Ron Samuels Friday at the BevWilshire to talk Berry’s biopic. … Edie and Lew Wasserman host a private party at their home for Bill Clinton Aug. 13 at $ 10,000 a couple. … Among performers at the $ 1,000-per-person Hollywood Women’s Political Committee benefit Sept. 16 at Ted Fields’ home to benefit the California Democandidates and Clinton-Gore will be Barbra Streisand, who warbles a couple of tunes. … Charlton Heston, Gerald McRaney, Chuck Norris and A.C. Lyles are among the showbiz group who’ll be on hand at the GOP Convention opening gavel Aug. 17 in Houston. … Connie Chung’s contract with CBS is up and it’s reported ABC is trying to sign her for duties including their proposed news show opposite CBS’ “60 Minutes.” … Johnny Carson visited his new offices but he’s a long way from agreeing to do anything for NBC where they get first look. … ABC and HBO are both readying telepix about the Texas mother who planned a murder on behalf of her would-be cheerleader daughter. HBO’s “Mother’s Day” is to star Holly Hunter. And ABC’s readying “Willing to Kill: The Texas Cheerleader Story.” Farrah Fawcett’s name has been mentioned for the latter.

THE DOUGLAS FAMILY, Anne, Kirk, Michael and Peter D., taped a video for Cedars-Sinai’s $140 million “Campaign for the 21st Century,” of which Anne and Kirk are honorary co-chairs. Joseph Mitchell’s chairman of the board of C-S and Robert Silverstein’s chairman of “Campaign.” … Concern II holds its seventh fundraiser, “The Voyage to Conquer Cancer–A Casino on the High Seas,” Sept. 19 at the Pacific Design Center to fund children’s cancer research. Top prize of the evening, American Airlines (donated) ducats to England and a Dorchester Hotel stay. … The party was for the 10th anniversary — but actually “Wheel of Fortune” has been around for 18 years. Nevertheless, King World and Merv Griffin Enterprises have been partnered for a decade–a good enough excuse for one of the friendliest parties in a decade. Mainly because Merv was in his favorite role, leading and singing with his big band–on the stage of his BevHilton hotel. Next year, “Jeopardy!” celebrates its 10th anni in the same status and Roger and Michael King predict both shows will go on forever. Griffin Enterprises president Bob Murphy says they have taken in over a billion (with a “b”) dollars since syndication–via cassettes, game packages, foreign (27 countries), etc. Sony, which owns MGE, never interferes with this slot machine, noted Merv. But Alan Levine, CEO and chief operating officer of SPE, was on hand to congrat and gift Griffin, as were Mel Harris and Joe Stevens. Also, “Wheel” producer Nancy Jones, “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek and his producer George Vosburgh. Pat Sajak and Vanna White kidded Griffin–and Vanna made her singing debut with the MG band. The tooters and singer Judy Johnson and the Merv Tones had the packed ballroom dancing. Fred Hayman, Griffin’s boss at the Ambassador who wardrobes White and Sajak, was on hand. As was Merv’s sister Barbara, who inspired Merv to TV the game they played as “Hangman” as kids. Also there, Eva Gabor.

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