Filmmakers exploring Americana pix

GOOD MORNING and congrats Emmy nominees … And now for the really big screen: Yesterday I was on Columbia’s “Geronimo” set at Sony, where the historical epic ($ 35 million) is in its final, interior week, having lost only four days due to weather in Moab exteriors. The western, a second teaming for director Walter Hill and producer Neil Canton (“Trespass” was their first), will be followed by more Americana movies by the duo; “Wild Bill Hickok” and a second is set in Wyoming in the 1880s. A third pic is contemporary, a gangster pic, “Hood”… Hill and Canton thank the successes of “Dances With Wolves” and “The Last of the Mohicans” for the go on “Geronimo,” whose title role is played by Wes Studi, who co-starred in both “Mohicans” and “Wolves.” Native Americans have nothing to worry about over their treatment in “Geronimo,” the filmmakers assured me. “They (Indians) are substantively involved in the production as consultants, technical advisers and players.” And further, Hill told me, “There are no ‘heavies’ in this movie.” Canton added, “The time in American history is the heavy”… I walked by dozens of artisans working on converting Sony’s main street into a Disneyland-like New York Street complete with shiny store signs on the once-paint-peeling studio buildings. One of ’em was painted to look like Cannery Row, complete with hanging prop fish, advertisements for the sea wares. It’s a bright, new look for the lot, inside and out … I arrived at Stage 18 where “Geronimo” was shooting to find the set filled with 100 atmosphere players dressed as 1885 Cavalry officers, their ladies and members of Tucson’s finest in the Governor’s mansion set. As noted, the exteriors, battle scenes between hundreds of Indians and Cavalry had already been filmed by Lloyd Ahern and his crew with many hand-held cameras. Here, in this big interior set, two standard cameras filmed the goings-on as news of Geronimo’s escape was announced. (He and 30 surviving tribe members were captured a year later — by an Army force of — 5,000!) … Hill will have the movie ready for Christmas release, but admits, the more technical advances movies now have, the harder it gets to finish ’em! … Gene Hackman, handsome in his uniform as Brigadier General George Crook, tells me he’s happy to be working in a studio again — it’s been a long time on locations for “The Unforgiven,””The Firm” and now “Geronimo.” But he’s not complaining. And he next plays Wyatt Earp’s (Kevin Costner’s) father, filming in Santa Fe — but that’s Hackman’s new hometown. He only works 10 days in “Earp” and four weeks in “Geronimo.” How will the billing read for him in these? As usual, he’s not worried (his agent, CAA’s Fred Specktor, takes care of it). Hackman will probably have his name “boxed” for “Geronimo.” As for his non-stop sked, Hackman smiled, “I thought I’d come to the time of my life (62) when I’d ease up a bit — but this business is so seductive.”

BOB HOPE AND NBC have agreed to a three-hour pact for 1993-94. One show will be a two-hour Christmas special and the second, a show with young comedians. Bob and Dolores are also recording a Christmas album. She was to sing for him Friday , when TV crix honor Bob with a career achievement award at the Universal Hilton , but she was hurt in a freak home accident … Delta Burke, her Perseverance banner and CBS have signed a pact guaranteeing Burke a series of her choice to develop. And, it’s still possible that a series with Linda Bloodworth-Thomason could be one of the choices … Patricia Barry got word her 100-year-old family home, registered as a National Heritage site, and its 450-acre farm in Davenport , Iowa, are totally under water with a loss of all crops … Michael Gross is in Iowa to assist World Vision in its expanded flood relief … First the bad news: Sheryl Lee Ralph was apartment-shopping in N.Y. with her 18-month-old son, prepping to take over the title role in”The Goodbye Girl,” when she got news the show closes Aug. 1 as Bernadette Peters and Martin Short wind their stands. Now the good news: She returned to L.A. to co-star in ABC’s “George” as George Foreman’s wife.

THE $ 4.5 MILLION ARBITRATION AWARD to Dove to be paid by director Steven Stern was confirmed by Superior Court Judge Ernest Williams Wednesday. The dispute arose between director Stern and Dove during the filming of “Morning Glory.” Last Sept. 15, the arbitrator found in Dove’s favor and now Judge Williams confirmed the arbitration award without waiving the bond on appeal. The movie shows at the Deauville fest … Tricia and Robert Earl welcomed son Robert Jr. in Orlando, Fla. … Stanley Meyer is home recuping from colon surgery at St. John’s … Literary agent/producer Jerry Adler is in City of Hope and could use a cheery card … Elvis is everywhere: Hollywood Park hosts an evening of Elvis lookalikes July 23 — they perform in the Winner’s Circle, natch … After performing as an Elvis impersonator in “None of a Kind” at the Burbage theater, Fred Willard and the troupe segued to the Improv (co-owned by producer Mark Lonow) to find an Elvis lookalike contest playing across the street. And you thought Elvis was dead?

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