GOOD MORNING: Jon Peters and David Geffen are negotiating to buy the Bel-Air Hotel for a price rumored to be in the neighborhood of $60 million. That’s a nice neighborhood, you must admit. The hotel was last sold to the Japanese hotel company Sazale for a reported $1 million per room–for a total of about $100 million. Geffen, you recall, also bought the Jack Warner Beverly Hills estate for $ 47.5 million and is pouring millions into its new look. … Talking real estate, although ICM is moving out of its Beverly Blvd. HQ early next year, it still has to pay rent to present landlords Pierre Cossette and Stan Herman until July ’94. The latter have been offered big dough by others to sell and/or rent the valuable site, says Stan. But they will give it a facelift instead. … And talking location–the man responsible for finding those picture-perfect stops on the Clinton-Gore bus tours is Hollywood producer Mort Engelberg. He heads out again tomorrow to set more sites from Detroit to Buffalo. Engelberg admits even he was flabbergasted by the turnout at some of his locations. “I couldn’t believe 2,500 people would show up at 2:30 ayem in the parking lot of a small Midwest town where the dinner hour is never later than 6 p.m.” Add a perfect location: Magic Mountain is the spot for Magic Johnson’s birthday party late Thursday night after the park closes. He’ll be 33 on Friday. … “The Fantastic Four” must start production by the end of the year, per his deal with Marvel Comics, says producer Bernd Eichinger (“The Name of the Rose,””Never-Ending Story”). So he’s altered his sights from a $40 million-$45 million production to $5 million. And says he’s talking to Concorde’s Roger Corman and Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman about co-producing “Rubyfruit Jungle,” the controversial breakthrough bestseller by Rita Mae Brown about the coming of age of a young lesbian, has been bought by Anthony Unger and Bruce Campbell to be feature-filmed.
WHAT DID JESUS CHRIST really look like? While Blair Underwood was searching a subject to direct for his first (short) film, the Rodney King and Ice-T subjects were making front pages and Underwood mused, “What would happen if Jesus Christ came back today–as a man of color? How would he be treated?” Well, Underwood has now completed “The Second Coming,” a 30-minute short that he financed as well as directed. He also stars as Christ, in full dreadlocks and beard. The cast also includes Rosalind Cash as Mary, Alisan Porter (“Curly Sue”) as one of the true believers and James Earl Jones as narrator. Underwood made “Second Coming” under his banner, Quiet Fury Prods. The film opens with the Crucifixion, segues to the present in a mental institution where Christ is sent–because he claims to be the Messiah. Underwood told me his interpretation as a filmmaker “is to say that Jesus was a man of color and to firmly establish that Christ was an orthodox Jew. What is most important,” he reminded, “is that we as human beings understand that our spirituality is colorless.” Underwood previously directed four musicvideos with Tony Terry as well as with rap groups Positive Generation and the Awesome Threesome. Asked his opinion of Ice-T’s controversial song, he noted, “You have to have freedom of speech, but you also have to be accountable for what you say.” The multitalented Underwood also wrapped the NBC telepic “Father and Son,” on which he’s associate producer and in which he co-stars with Lou Gossett Jr. Next week, he returns to “L.A. Law” for his sixth season.
AMONG THE 2,500 aboard the QE2 when she went aground off Martha’s Vineyard were George Kennedy, Tom Clancy and personal manager Wilt Melnick. “It felt like an earthquake,” reports Melnick. “But the captain assured all there was no danger.” And while they all waited for tenders to take all passengers ashore, it was party time on board. “I’ll have a QE2 on the rocks,” Melnick told his waiter. “What’s that?””Scotch and salt water.” Most of the passengers were taken to Newport, bused to trains to N.Y. “The Cunard line did a helluva job,” adds Melnick. Their luggage, left onboard, will hopefully be shipped to ’em soon. … John Candy signed with CAA Ben Gazzara and Jerry Orbach inked with Tom Korman of the Artists Group. … George DiCenzo signed with the Gersh Agency. George formed a Center for the Performing Arts at his farm in Bucks County, Penn. First season kicks off in February in conjunction with the first annual James Michener Arts Fest. … Jeffrey Jones signed with Wm. Morris. … James Garner, Joe DiMaggio, Buddy Hackett, Morgan Brittany and Vic Damone were the winners at David Wolper’s celeb golf tourney, which raised $125,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Napa, Wolper’s new home up there–which boasts its own golf course. … Roger E. Mosley hosts the annual Celeb Softball Game to benefit the Sickle Cell Disease Research Foundation, Sept. 20 at Derby Park in Inglewood. … APLA’s backlot bash at Universal raised $250,000. … The N.Y. Friars Club lunch roast of Billy Crystal Sept. 18 at the N.Y. Hilton will boast a record dais of celebs and industry exex with whom Crystal’s worked. … Katherine and Bob Altman celebrated their 33rd wedding anni at Jay Fiondella’s Chez Jay. It was the eatery’s 34th anni and Jay’s birthday (who counts) as well.