GOOD MORNING: What were these people doing, dining together? Yesterday, lunching at the Columbia Bar & Grill, Helen Kushnick and Brandon Tartikoff. It was Tartikoff who, in 1986, set Jay Leno, then managed by Kushnick, as the exclusive guest host for “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” And it was Jay, you recall, who emceed Tartikoff’s spectacular 40th birthday party in Dodger Stadium. Brandon had known Kushnick even before the association with Leno. But he had not seen her since the brouhaha between NBC and Helen. Nor had Tartikoff talked to her during the verbal battles between Arsenio Hall and Leno. Tartikoff admitted to me, “It was awkward for me, here (at Paramount), the home of Arsenio.” He admitted it was not good form and thus invited her to lunch yesterday. “She’s the best discoverer and nurturer of fresh talent,” he reminded. “One table away from us was Will Smith, who is in one of my last shows (“Fresh Prince”) at NBC. ‘Find me someone like him,’ I told Helen.” Kushnick confirmed yesterday’s meeting was strictly social, she wasn’t pitching anything. “We will always be good friends.” (Tartikoff would not have fired her.) “Brandon is the reason Jay went to NBC. I had been trying to get him there for years,” added Helen. She’ll participate in tomorrow’s Women in Film panel discussion at the AFI on how powerful women can be taken seriously and whether a co-ed partnership enhances their credibility in the industry … Monday night at Morton’s, Ed Rollins, who was Ross Perot’s former campaign manager and an ex-White House team member of the Reagan and Bush tenancies, was dining with his new agents, the William Morris’ John Burnham and Morgan Mason, and Mason’s wife, Belinda Carlisle. Rollins will write his book, telling the real story of Perot–plus prose on the two presidents. Mason knew Rollins when he, too, worked for Reagan. P.S.: Rollins told his dinner partners-agents he’s voting for Clinton … Also dining at Morton’s, producer Larry Mark and director Joel Schumacher, the latter having cold-storaged his WB project “Devil’s Advocate,” which was to star Brad Pitt. While Schumacher winds post on “Falling Down” and Mark completes his “Adventures of Huck Finn,” they’ll also search for a project on which to duo.
A”BLATANTLY ANTI-SEMITIC rap skit” that ran on “Uptown Comedy Club’s” Oct. 1 show will be deleted from all future reruns, the Simon Wiesenthal Center was assured, as were we by the series exec producer Bob Banner and Keith Samples, whose Rysher Co. distributes. The Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper called the seg “mean-spirited, a straight piece of hate.” And we concurred. The show was sent to 101 stations, 89% of the country. Coincidentally , five days after the airing, a N.Y. Times story told of the 16th anti-Semitic incident in N.Y. since Sept. 28. In his letter to Banner, Rabbi Cooper noted, “Comedy–yes. Satire– yes. But review the tape of this skit and you will want to review the standards that guide the production of a show which has gone a long way to passing down hateful stereotypes to young Americans under the guise of entertainment.” The well-respected, Emmy-winning producer Banner told me, “I agree with the Simon Wiesenthal Center and I will take it (the seg) out of repeats. It was erroneous judgment. We will make it a point to be more diligent.” But Cooper reminded, “How will people who’ve seen the show know you’ve made a mistake? We are very concerned with racial relationships in the community.” KCAL’s prez and general manager David J.Woodcock concurred with the Wiesenthal report and said, “Our program department will take this issue up with the program distributor (Rysher) to avoid this from happening in the future. And N.Y.’s Fox 5 WNYW VP and general manager Hillary Hendler also “apologized” for the airing. Hendler found the skit “reprehensible,” adding, “We will do everything in our power to prevent offensive material targeted against any segment of our community from airing.”
AFTER 32 YEARS as a prime time TV packaging agent at William Morris, Len Rosenberg has made his first movie deal–and whatta deal. Fox bought the movie (and TV and merchandising, etc.) rights to “The Frogs,” by Bobby Herbeck, who wrote “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie.””It will be a cottage industry,” Rosenberg promises. Herbeck spotted the “Frogs” characters on a T-shirt for sale in Disney World, but not patent-owned by Disney … Sandra Bernhard signed with Irv Arthur and Michael Green … Thesp Janet Julian and Michael Lansbury, MCA TVeep for series programs, welcomed daughter Charlotte Rose, Sunday … Agent Kay Liberman and actor-husband Aaron Lustig are expecting their second baby in May … KROQ-FM “Morning Show” producer Maria D’Arcangelo and personal manager Howard Lapides will wed next June … On the New Zealand location of “Black Stallion,” Mickey Rooney rigged “polling booths” for the U.S. crew members who filed absentee ballots … David Birney plays a G-man on the “Mob Girl” seg of “FBI: The Untold Stories.” Birney should know how to play the role–his dad Edward was a career FBI man.