GOOD MORNING: Francis Coppola’s taking a “sabbatical.” How long will it last? “Three-six-nine months,” he said from N.Y. “Enthusiasm is the key word for a project,” he said, claiming he had no particular pressing project … But he had winged to N.Y. to meet with Kenneth Branagh “to introduce him to some actors” for the latter’s “Frankenstein” TriStar project. “It’s just ‘big brother duties, ‘ ” Coppola allowed. But he admitted he’ll have “executive producer” credits …”There’s no distress for me — for the first time in 30 years, no worries. I’ve never had it before. It’s time to rejuvenate myself. I’ve done one movie after another. Now, with the success of ‘Dracula’–even greater in Europe than in the U.S.–it has given me and my wife security. We don’t have to worry about the future and I’m not worried about covering my ass any more. I’m totally clear–debt-free and on the plus side from ‘Dracula.’ I can have a time of repose.” He credits the “young fellas” at Zoetrope who give him “good business consultations” so his past enthusiasms don’t take him into red ink again. Lest we think Coppola’s in any state of repose, he told me of his enthusiasm for the new world of TV. “I’m so excited about TV things in the ’90s–interactive, etc. It’s now global TV. TV is the cinema of the future. I want American Zoetrope to participate totally in the power of electronics in the next 12 years. I’m trying to stress the importance of the new TV. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t call it TV–you should call it ‘cinema’–it’s a new frontier”… ABC will air his “Cul-De-Sac” series by Bruce Wagoner … Meanwhile, he admits he has not given up any of his movie projects, like “Maggie” at MGM or the J. Edgar Hoover “G-Man” with Quincy Jones at WB. Or WB’s “The Secret Garden,” which he said had a wonderful preview … Or his development deal at Columbia–which he says is not affected by his “repose.””I’m feeling very calm,” Coppola claimed. But he sounded very excited about his so-called “sabbatical.”

WITH APOLOGIES TO JACK NICHOLSON–he’s anxious to sink his teeth into “Wolf.””I can’t wait to get into it,” said Nicholson. He tested makeup this week and while he wouldn’t give up the details, he laughingly noted, “There’s plenty of fuzz.” So much fuzz — he couldn’t test the body cast since he hurt his ribs laughing — and sneezing. No, his movie won’t be a la horror flick “Wolfman” but he admits there’ll be some humor in it. Would Nicholson miss an opportunity to delight with a raised eyebrow? But, he reminded, “The movie is mythic, not literal.” The “Wolf” troupe had a reading last week. It includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Mia Farrow (who plays Nicholson’s wife), Richard Jenkins and James Spader. With director Mike Nichols and Elaine May, who is “touching up” the Jim Harrison script with Jim. While delighted at the prospect of “Wolf,” Nicholson admits it will be a tough movie to make. “I’m waiting for the ‘easy’ one. I’ve heard of fun pictures. But easy?” He said “Hoffa” was the toughest of them all. “But I loved it. And ‘A Few Good Men’ was fun. It was a dynamite set with Tom (Cruise) and Demi (Moore) and all those young actors.” He heads to Paris with Danny De Vito and “Hoffa.” But Jack returns immediately afterward for son Raymond’s first birthday. He’s a real doting daddy–ask ditto Warren Beatty … Nastassja Kinski and Quincy Jones brought home new daughter Kenya J. yesterday afternoon. On the business side, the Quincy Jones-David Salzman merger looks closer than ever … After Rod Steiger assisted wife Paula in delivering son Michael Winston S. Monday, he told me, “I’m convinced of two things: Every man should do it so they’d respect and appreciate women a little more. And, two, child care should be taught in high schools to both sexes — instead of all the b.s. about driving cars.”

IT’S ALL STRAIGHTENED OUT. And Burt Reynolds admitted to me he was at fault “for blowing my stack and acting like a 20-year-old contract player. I’m apologizing.” The apology’s to Linda Bloodworth-Thomason following the editing of an “Evening Shade” seg. Harry Thomason confirmed all’s well. “We love Burt–we’re working together now and plan to be working together for a long time. He has no greater admirer than Linda.” Reynolds added, “I love this show — and I hated not speaking to everyone.” The successful CBSeries spins off Charles Durning and Ann Wedgeworth for Reynolds’ Indian River banner–to hopefully follow the “Shade” time slot next season–with Ossie Davis’ diner appearing in both shows. Reynolds’ Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden guests in an upcoming seg following an hourlong Martin Luther King tribute show. Reynolds is also rejoicing these days with the test screenings of his Universal feature “Cop & a Half”–described by him as “Dirty Harry Meets Home Alone”…”Sliver” winds today at Par and Bob Evans says the $ 30 million movie came in within 5% of its budget and sked. Evans also delivered three-quarters of his autobiog, “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” to Simon & Schuster’s Michael Korda–so pleased they sent Evans a check in advance of the finale … Sharon Stone segues from Par’s bigscreen “Sliver” to a Pirrelli tire commercial to be seen only in Europe and for mucho dinero, francs, pesetas, marks, lire, etc. She starts “Intersection” with Richard Gere March l in Vancouver. Sharon shows her gratitude to Mario Kassar (for his “Basic Instinct” support) by promising him one of her two next pictures. It’ll be “Manhattan Ghost Stories” by Ron Bass … Macdonald Carey and Jane Wyatt co-star in A.R. Gurney’s “Love Letters” March 22 and April 19 at the Pasadena Playhouse to benefit mental health programs in L.A. The Macdonald Carey East Valley Mental Health Center will be dedicated March 11 .

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more