Cosby laughs last

GOOD MORNING: Bill Cosby was en route from NBC-Rockefeller Plaza to the Astoria Studios late yesterday to tape a presentation of the Malcolm-Jamal Warner show, “Be Me,” when he got his No. 1 ratings (28/45!) for the final “Cosby” hour. “At least we didn’t come in last,” he laughed. Norman Brokaw added , “He came in No. 1 and went off No. 1.” And went off with the classy pitch for peace and harmony in L.A. “It was from the heart,” Cos told us Today, he starts the “You Bet Your Life” show in Philly at WHYY, taping three shows Thursday and Friday for the Sept. 29 bow in (at least) 120 markets. We asked if he’d be involved in any of the planned L.A. catastrophe fund-raising shows, and he noted , “I’ll probably wind up doing something–but I’ll pick my own shot”–as Cosby has been doing, quietly, for years throughout the country. F’rinstance, June 5-6 , he’ll be performing at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe to benefit Glide for the SanFran needy, St. Hope of Sacramento for disadvantaged youth and the Tahoe Youth and Family Services Michael Jackson has been approached to do a giant fund-raiser for L.A.’s destroyed areas–and citizens As always, the talent of showbiz is called upon–and volunteers to help the unfortunate, but now’s the time for showbiznesses to help plan a healthier, happier future community. How about H.O.P.E. (Hollywood’s Opportunities for Productivity through Education)? It’s our idea whereby studios, guilds, unions, music companies, theaters can combine efforts to use little-used facilities and useful talent to teach youngsters the joy (and rewards) of showbiz “Comic Relief V”–May 16 at the Universal Amphitheatre airing “live” on HBO 6-10 p.m.–is adding talent daily.

Latest addition to the show headed by Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams are Don Rickles, Joe Pesci and Rosie Perez, plus stars like Sharon Stone selling T-shirts. She may even wear one. There’ll also be mucho music on this “Comic” show. Added fund-raiser item is a Comic Relief poster by artist Jim Evans distributed by Mirage Editions The residual loss to L.A. from TV and film companies who’ll go elsewhere is “much more substantial” than anyone anticipated, Lew Chesler predicts. He’s producing, along with Richard Rothstein, “Kane,” a two-hour telepic/pilot for NBC. Several locations they’d used were destroyed. He noted James Russo and Jack Carter had completed a “classic” sequence on Wilcox and Hollywood Blvd. just before it was torched. And to add to the “Kane” company’s problems, yesterday, they moved to Valencia–and the rains came!

KATHARINE HEPBURN’S OK and planning to go to work July 6 in James Prideaux’s new CBS telepic “The Man Upstairs.” Prideaux, George Schaefer (also directs), Burt Reynolds, Lamar Jackson, John Dayton and Renee Valente produce. Reynolds was to have co-starred, but segues from “Cop and a Half” back to “Evening Shade.” Ryan O’Neal will now co-star as the escaped convict who lives in the attic of the northern California, upper-class Hepburn. “It’ll be fun,” Hepburn told Prideaux yesterday A malignant tumor was removed from George Peppard’s right lung Monday and we’re told it’s completely cleared and he should be able to be at work in three to four weeks. The tumor was discovered in February when Peppard was hospitalized in Philly for gastritis Gregory Peck and his family are back from SanFran where Greg delivered the eulogy at the Cypress Lawn Chapel for his mother, Bernice (Maysuch), 97, who died April 29. Peck had returned the previous weekend from Raleigh, N.C., and “Painting Churches” for TNT with Lauren Bacall and Cecilia Peck co-starring with Greg, Arthur Penn directing. Peck is also exec producer, Robert Greenwald, producer. They completed it in 21 days. “It can be done without losing quality,” Peck assured us. He organized a week’s rehearsals at his house in L.A. before they headed south to the Duke U. locations.

THE TRIBUTES TO Johnny Carson continue with Steve Martin’s appearance tonight–when Steve again plays the hysterical “Great Flydini” And English medium Vincent Munden attempts to contact Harry Houdini at the home of agent Richard de Grandcourt May 31. Hollywood Magic Shop’s Ronald Joseph Berg is technical advisor Worth mag’s CEO Randy Jones, at the Reagan-Gorbachev medal ceremony at R.R.’s library, suggested that Gorbachev take a position on Worth’s board. “That might be a good idea,” said Gorby, “I don’t have a job right now, and my people really need this kind of information (from the personal finance magazine) right now” Elaine Joyce and producer John Levoff are divorcing. She won her sex discrimination suit vs. Chuck Barris Industries–having been replaced by a male as host of “Dating Game.” Joyce resumes her acting career, “breaking the mom barrier” in the bigscreen “Letter to My Dad” One of the streets of L.A. will look its best–at least in BevHills–on May 17 when the Concern Foundation for Cancer Research holds its 18th annual Rodeo Drive Block Party with celebs acting as bartenders and the city’s top eateries contributing fancy food. American Airlines co-sponsors Vikki Carr’s urging those who attend her May 9 Greek Theater concert to bring items to be distributed to riot victims.

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