Mancuso, Nicholson renew ties

GOOD MORNING: Frank Mancuso started calling prospective MGM/UA talent over the weekend — one of the first he phoned was Jack Nicholson, with whom he had terrif rapport at Par. As a matter of fact, Nicholson said Mancuso had told him of the impending news months ago. I was asking Nicholson — and everyone else — opinions of the Mancuso appointment yesterday ayem when I was visiting former MGM turf — now the Sony Studios. I was on Columbia’s “Wolf” sets shooting on MGM’s — excuse it, Sony’s — largest stages 15 (Central Park set), 26 (Vermont snow-covered forest), 27 (Westbury, L.I. mansion). Nicholson thinks Mancuso will be good for MGM/UA and that it will mean more European production opportunities, which Nicholson welcomes. He winds the Mike Nichols-directed “Wolf” today and producer Doug Wick would only admit the movie budget’s about $ 40 million below the line and that Nicholson has a unique deal (above the line). It has to be unique since Nicholson once told me he’s made more money than he could ever want or spend. He wanted to play “Wolf.” And Nichols agreed Nicholson was the only one for the role from the start … But Jack is happy the movie is winding — the weeks of five hours in makeup and 17-hour days are tough. I talked with him first in the makeup trailer — he had not yet donned any of Rick Baker’s wolfish appliances — but the makeup drawings leave no doubt that it is Nicholson under it all. And when Nicholson arched his eyebrows and growled a few words, it was obvious he IS the one for the part …”It’s a Jack triumph,” said director Nichols … When Nicholson’s two young children visited him on the set and also viewed a tape of him in full makeup they said they wanted him back as their “daddy!”… Michelle Pfeiffer also brought her 6-month-old daughter on the set. It’s one big happy family … And it could continue — both Nichols and Wick agree there’s a good possibility for a sequel. And when you see the movie, you’ll understand why the story lends itself perfectly to a followup (assuming it’s a success) … Nicholson arrived at his trailer to find the crew had decked the entrance like a wolf’s lair with an arch of stone- and forest-green-colored balloons plus a sign reading, “The Wolf Is Free!”

BE FOREWARNED, “It won’t be short — over two hours,” promises Mike Nichols. He sez “Wolf” is one of the two hardest movies he’s made — the other, “Catch-22 .” But he adds, ‘I’ve always dreamed of making a movie with long periods without dialogue” and Nicholson carries it off with his actions. This is the fourth teaming of Nicholson-Nichols … The director carries on communication via computer to Elaine May in N.Y. She’s adding dialogue down to the last day, today. But, she will probably not ask for any screenplay credit, Nichols adds. (It will be up to the WGA, of course, how to credit Jim Harrison, Wesley Strick and/or May) … Producer Wick says the movie’s look is a cross between “The Shining” and “Terms of Endearment”! … And it will have at least an R rating because of the language, “gore,” and explicit love scene between Pfeiffer and Jack … Nichols’ future pix include Col’s “All the Pretty Horses,” which he’ll direct featuring several young players in the ’40s-set story. Also at Columbia is “The Impersonators.” And at Savoy, “A Simple Plan.” But first he edits “Wolf” with Sam O’Steen for Spring release. They’ll cut with the new technology (film-to-tape-to-disc) in N.Y. And there are no “Jurassic Park” computerized tricks from the ILM master technicians, they assure. But of course there’s lots of movie magic, what with wolves and their scenes with Nicholson … Doug Wick is readying a romantic movie “Good Behavior” for Harrison Ford at Fox and “Girl Interrupted” by Susanna Kaysin and “The Craft” by Peter Filardi at Col. Plus a Jim Harrison period pic at TriStar … And there’s still talk of Nicholson as Napoleon.

MEANWHILE, OVER AT UNIVERSAL, Lew Wasserman on Monday greeted visiting N.Y. Mayor David Dinkins with the first “N.Y., It Ain’t Over” T-shirt and cap — which are manufactured by Wasserman’s grandson Casey and his partner James Perse. Proceeds go to the “N.Y. It Ain’t Over” Foundation charities … Over at WB, Sylvester Stallone, winding “Demolition Man,” is enraged over the theft of production pix of him in the nude (“frozen” in ice) that made their way to the London Sunday Mirror. He’s talking to his lawyer … Jodie Foster taped a Honda commercial (her second) for Japan only … Nikki Finke joins Entertainment Weekly as senior editor. She’ll be able to write pieces for Vanity Fair. And her book, “Pay or Play” (Crown) is upcoming … Meanwhile, Anne Hurley departs Entertainment Weekly, returns to L.A. (she’s an alumna of the Her-Ex) to be deputy Calendar editor for movie reviews and features, starts Sept.7 … George Stevens Jr. golf’d with President Clinton, Vernon Jordan and Aston Johnston. Who won? “The President ALWAYS wins,” smiled Stevens … Milton Berle gave away the bride as his wife Lorna’s daughter Susan Brown married Richard Moll, July 24 at the Peninsula … Robin Leach found it’s not that easy — as he tried to cook a pizza at Spago for his homevideo series. It burned.

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