Bixby ‘Blossom’-ing again post-cancer

GOOD MORNING: “I thought I was going to die — I was in so much pain,” Bill Bixby recalls of his nine-day hospital stay in April for treatment of prostate cancer. “Then they gave me a (new) hormone and in 24 hours I was tap-dancing.” Now, he’s readying a return to work, directing segs of his choice in the fall season of “Blossom.” However, Bixby did not want to take a chance directing the two-hour season opener, currently filming in Paris, and John Whitesell is at the helm for producer Don Reo. Bixby says Reo, Paul Witt and Tony Thomas are “the most standup people I know — so supportive.” (It was Tony’s cancer-conscious, charitable father, Danny Thomas, who started Bixby on his career, Bill reminds.) Yesterday, NBC’s two-hour, $ 2.75 million “Blossom” season opener was filming atop the Eiffel Tower, having also shot around town at the Opera, Gare de Lyon, Sacre Coeur, etc. Paris is the city where Melissa Manchester, “mother” to the series’ Mayim Bialik, Joey Lawrence and Michael Stovanov, chirps in a club. Manchester’s written/ sings “To Be in Love With Me” and “I’m Not Just One of the Boys” for the TV’er … From his suite at Paris’ Hotel Ritz, Reo told me, “When I created the series, I had the chance to put their mother (Manchester) in Chicago or Paris — I’ve been to Chicago,” he laughed. Besides, “Blossom” is big in France, airing on TF-1 Saturday ayems, where it’s dubbed and called “Le Petit Fleur.” And while in Paree, Blossom (Bialik) has a little amour with a French waiter. Nothing to worry about, folks. But Reo promises the show will tackle serious subjects — sex, drugs, violence in school, etc., in the coming season. “We have to do shows that don’t bore the kids but also don’t hit them over the head. I don’t talk down to them. Besides, this is a family show — a show that parents watch with their children.” But there’s no worry of “Blossom” becoming pregnant in the series, he assures … What’s TVeteran Reo’s opinion of the plans to put parental advisories on web shows? “As long as they don’t put any on comedies,” answered Reo, whose record includes “Laugh-In,””MASH,””Rhoda, “”Private Benjamin,” etc. And he’s now readying another comedy, “The John Larroquette Show,””a character piece” for NBC — opposite “Roseanne.” Reo, who’s a great fan of “Roseanne,” admits, “I wish they’d put us someplace else. I hope it can survive.”

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE the power of you know what. I’m not saying it, but Jay Weston is happy to confirm: The morning our story appeared revealing Weston had acquired movie remake rights to the ’58 Jimmy Stewart-Kim Novak co-starrer “Bell , Book and Candle,” Miramax quick-looked at the classic movie. At 4 p.m., Tony Safford, Miramax VP of acquisitions, and Jeff Kurz, director of development, met with Weston. At 6 p.m. it was a deal. “In my 35 years in the bizness, I never had a deal close that quickly,” said Weston, who is now negotiating for a major writer to script … On a sad note, Miramax reports that Jasper, 10-day-old son of Jane Campion and Colin Englert, “died in their arms.” A private service will be held in Sydney. Campion is the director-writer of Miramax’s Cannes Palme d’Or-winning “Piano” and Colin served as second-unit director … Greta Scacchi, who took two years off to have dotter Leilah, is returning to work in Par’s “The Browning Version” with Albert Finney, in a deal set by Susan Smith. Mike Figgis directs Ronald Harwood’s script … Mr. Blackwell is home from treatment at Cedars-Sinai following an auto accident in which his car was broadsided, then struck by oncoming traffic. “The airbag saved my life,” he was barely able to tell me — glass was shattered all over him, with one piece lodging near his vocal chords. “Can you imagine me not being able to talk?” Blackwell tried to joke … Chazz Palminteri, who wrote/stars in “A Bronx Tale,” joins the cast of Woody Allen’s current, untitled movie … And Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pal, 6’8″ Ralph Moeller, has signed a three-picture deal with Capella Films starting with “Ice Cream Man,” and a two-pic pact with Mark DiSalle to launch with “The Tower.” DiSalle directs and co-produces with wife Peggy.

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY celebrants at George Lucas’ 16th annual LucasFilm Picnic at the Skywalker Ranch include Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Spielberg. Also heading there, Polish-born actress Beata Pozniak, spending her first July 4th holiday as a U.S. citizen, enjoying typically American activities such as a three-legged race, tug-of-war, etc. Beata appeared in Lucas’ “Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” seg “Petrograd 1917,” which filmed three months in Prague … Richard Riordan got his mayoral wardrobe at Rick Pallack’s. Riordan, a longtime Pallack customer, also leased a campaign HQ next door to Rick’s Sherman Oaks store … George Englund hopes to have Manuel Noriega’s bio (Random House) completed in a year in order to have an effect on the election in Panama. Peter Eisner, Latin American bureau chief of Newsday, is writing it with Noriega. A screenplay follows for theatrical or — ?… EdwardR. Pressman is honored at the Jerusalem Film Fest July 7 when “Bad Lieutenant” preems there. The pic’s star, Harvey Keitel, joins Pressman at the start of the 12-film retro.

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