O’Connor to keep taking ‘Heat’ despite illness

GOOD MORNING: Carroll O’Connor missed all of NATPE, having been rushed to SanFran’s St. Francis hospital, but when I spoke to him yesterday, he said he’s OK and due to be released today or tomorrow. “I think it was adhesions from the gall bladder surgery I had a few years ago,” O’Connor said. Production on “In the Heat of the Night” will not be affected, as they do not resume shooting until April. I asked O’Connor whether he’d try to take it a little easier next season. “I’ll do the best I can,” he said, but when I suggested he remove one of his hats–producer-writer-actor–he answered, “But then who could I get?” Carroll and wife Nancy will soon become grandparents, as son Hugh and wife Angela are expecting a baby boy … Continuing on the ill-and-injured list, I spoke with Regis Philbin yesterday at his home in N.Y., where he’s resting after undergoing angioplasty. Reege admitted, “I should have gone to the doctor before –I’d been having chest pains for a couple of weeks.” He sounded fine and tomorrow learns the therapy program he must follow–“and the diet. And not get stressed,” he laughed. He hopes to return to the show Monday and re-sked taping sessions in L.A. at the end of February. He and wife Joy also plan to wing here for a “Mad About You” guestint taping Feb. 8. The Smothers Bros. co-host with Kathie Lee Crosby today and tomorrow … Sorry to report that Eleanor Heutschy, wife of publicist Vic H., died of cancer Tuesday night at Cedars-Sinai. They had been married 33 years and she was his constant, cheery companion on the countless locations he covered over the years. Memorial services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.

LEE IACOCCA SIGNED with the William Morris Agency. As anyone who’s spoken with him knows, Iacocca is a great communicator–and that’s the field being plotted for him. A TV commentator? Talkshow host? All of the above–anyplace where he can reach the business, political and personal ear of the world … The Acad’s Board of Governors Ball committee met yesterday under chairman and three-time Oscar winner Alan Bergman to talk this year’s post-Oscar bash. While there are some who argued against the traditional, tented celebration adjoining the Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, that’s where it’s going to be held. Jerry Wunderlich is not returning to supervise the look of the ball. The multi-Oscar-nominated set decorator “desperately wanted them not to do it (the big tent) again.” Wunderlich had been under the weather but is OK to return to “Evening Shade” next week. There are six segs remaining plus a spinoff starring Charles Durning. Karl Malden and Nina Foch were others who sought a different kind of celebration after the 65th Oscars. Foch just completed her “Sliver” role in which she reveals a new and very different Foch at the finale! … The Acad ball committee is planning innovations to encourage members to remain beyond a few minutes … Irving Lazar, in mourning for wife Mary, is being helped by friends who take him to dinner–they have been urging him to continue the traditional Lazar Oscar party that he and Mary hosted so many years, first at the Bistro, then moving to Spago. Yesterday, Lazar told me he will continue the tradition … Abbe Lane heads out on the book tour for her “But Where Is Love?” (Warner Books). You recall her roman a clef was originally an autobiog but she shifted to fiction (some of it!) “because it gave me more freedom.” She says the Howard Hughes episode is all true … Ken Kragen started the new semester teaching his UCLA extension course, “The Stardom Strategy,” by telling the students, “If you want to sell a product, a project or yourself, you’ve got to something unique.” Whereupon the UCLA marching band tooted into the classroom! “Now,” said Kragen, “I’ve got your attention.” After class, Kragen winged East where client Trisha Yearwood is filming Revlon commercials and client Travis Tritt is blurbing for Bud.

ROSEANNE ARNOLD WILL introduce Richard Pryor when Pryor plays the Wilshire Theater Saturday. He follows this stand with eight dates around the country … In Chi, Today’s Chicago Woman chose comedian Tom Dreesen as its poster boy … Mort Sahl’s inviting all of L.A.’s mayoral candidates to his show at the Westwood Playhouse, bowing Feb. 15. That’s one way to get a full house … Although “Scent of a Woman” didn’t bring a nomination from the DGA for Martin Brest, his pic’s three Golden Globes and the subsequent pufflicity boosted the movie’s midweek biz tremendously, bringing its 35-day total to a sweet-smelling $ 23,743,299 … The Super Bowl bonanza not only has every hotel in town SRO, but the restaurants are all cooking with fully booked larders. Tonight, the NFL holds one of its parties for 200 at the Columbia Bar & Grill … Preceding the onslaught of out-of-towners, at L’Orangerie were the Gregory Pecks, Frank Sinatras, Lauren Bacall, Walter Matthaus and Billy Wilders … And barely recognizable at Kate Mantilini’s, Dame Edna (Barry Humphries)–in suit and tie … Among those saluting Karl Malden Feb. 3 at the BevWilshire when Malden receives the Menninger Foundation’s Medal for Achievement in Mental Health: Kirk Douglas, Pierre Cossette, Gil Cates, Jeff Margolis, Saul Bass, Bruce Davis, Robert Wise, Eva Marie Saint, Arthur Hiller, etc.

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