GOOD MORNING: “I don’t want you to think about ratings for a month,” Rupert Murdoch told Chevy Chase, who in turn told me, “Fox is delighted.” Chase allows, “It’s hard at this point to find your ‘comfort zone.’ Going on TV has always been a joy for me to act nonchalant, but this is hard. I’m not used to the constraint, restraints — the attention to camera angles. But those technical areas will soak in. I’m learning how to do it. After all, I’m a legend, while they (the others) are talkshow hosts,” he laughed. Chase felt his opening shows were “a little too gushy for me, but these opening weeks are like test shows.” When I told him how many weeks Conan O’Brien’s been testing for his bow tonight, Chase noted, “I hope he does well. I remember when I was young and starting out on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ I hope he likes it.” Does Chase like it? “I love it,” he said. “I’m not sorry. Don’t forget I’ve also had a prosperous film career and people forget how hard it is to succeed in movies. I’ve made a lot of people laugh — and I plan to keep people laughing.” (He has the bigscreen “Cops and Robbersons” due out in February and it’s received good test screenings, he reports.) When I asked what Chevy thought of the high-powered guests his opposition lined up in the early weeks, like Vice President Al Gore on Letterman and the currently controversial Burt Reynolds on Leno tonight, Chase noted, “There’s not much I can do against Al Gore.” As for Reynolds, Chase says, “Burt’s a friend of mine and I think he’ll be on my show, too. The ‘heavyweights’ have their relationships.” He feels his show will not be made by that factor — he admitted he didn’t even know who the guests will be this week. He is more concerned with his ability to find that “comfort zone.” Chase didn’t watch the opposition during his first week. “I was totally focused on mine”– and the long hours … No changes were planned by week’s end.
“LETTERMAN IS MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE,” said 24 years young Ricki Lake, who makes her bow as a daytime talkshow hostess tonight. And Oprah Winfrey is Lake’s “inspiration.” Lake’s syndicated by Col-TV in 140 stations — KCOP here at 5 p.m. She went to Conan O’Brien’s test show last week, having done five weeks of her own tests before putting three weeks of talk’ers in the can. She claims her issues — aimed at 20- to 30-year-olds — can be aired at any time. However, she wanted to do a show themed around the news that a woman cut off her husband’s penis! “But it (the story) was on too many shows before we could have aired,” Lake admitted. The theme of her initial show: “I’m getting married but — I haven’t met my husband yet”… The N.Y.-based Lake may hit the road during sweeps periods and she plans on-the-street segs a la Letterman and Donahue (and Chase). Actress-host Lake will be seen next in “Serial Mom” as the daughter of Kathleen Turner and Sam Waterston. And she’s happy that she can now take “non-fat girl roles.” She’s lost 115 pounds in 2 1/2 years. “It’s my biggest accomplishment. It’ll be interesting looking for a new boyfriend,” she laughs, admitting that with the new career, “I have no personal life.” As Johnny Carson said here, “It’s not easy, it’s a tough thing to do.”… Lake insists her talkshow is different in every respect — but isn’t that every show’s aim?
WHITE HOUSE INVITES: Theo Bikel, president of the Associated Actors & Artists of America, is invited to attend today’s historic signing of the Israel-PLO accord on the White House South Lawn. Bikel, long active in the peace movement, visited the Gaza in January. He met the Clintons at the D.C. dedication of the Holocaust Museum and again at the Labor Day reception at the White House, where the President told the thesp, “You wear so many hats!”… Tuesday night’s White House guests will include newlyweds Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett. She’s still shooting “The Pelican Brief” in Washington … Barbara and Frank Sinatra host a Chasen’s dinner party Sunday for Teddy Kollek, mayor of Jerusalem since 1965. It’s expected that Israel’s foreign minister Shimon Peres will stop by to join the 150 guests … On hand to help Claudette Colbert celebrate her 90th birthday today at her home in Barbados is playwright Pierre Barillet (“Cactus Flower”), who flew in from Paris to join Colbert’s New York friends including Helen O’Hagan … Chanel’s CEO Arie Kopelman hosted Friday’s L’Orangerie salute to Chanel’s four-story building, to bow Nov. 18 in BevHills. The top floor will duplicate Coco Chanel’s apartment on the Rue Cambon. And for the first time since 1920, three Chanel fragrances — Cuir de Russie, Bois des Isles and Gardenia — will be sold outside the Rue Cambon … L’Orangerie has been sold to Japanese owners but Virginie and Gerard Ferry will continue to manage it for two years … The October Life mag layout on Jerry Seinfeld — by Pulitzer Prize-winning photog David Turnley — includes photos by Turnley of Seinfeld during his — October Playboy shoot.