Prepare for ‘Fire’ to shock, Petersen sez

GOOD MORNING: “People will be totally shocked,” says Wolfgang Petersen, director of “In the Line of Fire.” President John F. Kennedy will be seen in the movie in sequences with Clint Eastwood–with Clint looking the way he looked 30 years ago. Digital computer magic, says Petersen, makes it possible. We’ve seen samples of celebs of the past on current TV commercials but this is the first time computer magic’s been used similarly in a major movie, Petersen claims. Eastwood is “photographed” with JFK as the president arrives at the Dallas airport on the fateful morning preceding the assassination –and there’s more. Petersen says Columbia moved up the Castle Rock movie’s release date to July 23 –everyone’s so high on it. “It’s my greatest experience after ‘Das Boot,’ ” he admitted. “Working with Clint was a great experience.” Ennio Morricone is musicking. Petersen’s talking more projects with Columbia via his banner, Radiant Films, which is also developing “Surprise Party” for TriStar … This Sunday at the White House, President Clinton has invited Carol Channing, Barbara Cook, Lauren Bacall, Rita Moreno and James Naughton to entertain at a dinner for the 50 governors and the cabinet members with a revue called “Make Way for Tomorrow–America Speaks Through Its B’way Musicals.” Producers Beverly Camhe and Martin Bell, along with writers Barbara Handman and Phyllis Newman, who did the inaugural version of the show on the Mall, produce Sunday’s White House version. Hillary Clinton again asked Channing to sing “I’m Just a Little Girl From Little Rock” (from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”). And Bacall will sing “I Believe in You”(from “How to Succeed …”) to the president.

THERE’S NO BIZ like–no snow biz. Can you believe WB’s “Grumpy Old Men” company went to Minnesota in January– specifically to get snow–and now has to order snow machines! The movie stars Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau and Ann-Margret , whose husband, Roger Smith, reports, “Believe it or not, we’re sitting here waiting for it to snow so we can start shooting. Donald Petrie, our director, has asked for snow machines to be brought in.” Ann-Margret, who is 51, is today testing aging makeup to look like an appropriate love interest for Jack Lemmon and/or Walter Matthau. “Can you believe she almost didn’t get the role because they thought she’s too young for them?” said Smith. In “Queen” (airing Feb. 14, CBS), A-M ages from 40 to 80 as Alex Haley’s great-grandmother. In addition to the aging makeup in “Queen,” Ann also changed her voice. A change of title may be upcoming for “Grumpy Old Men.” A-M also starred in “Middle Age Crazy”–and no one went to see it … Jack Lemmon says working with Matthau is like “The Odd Couple” revisited. “We’re even sharing a suite in the hotel. We fight all the time (in the movie)–like we did when we dated Ann-Margret when we were kids.” Who wins her in the movie? “I get her, naturally,” Lemmon laughed. Soon as Lemmon winds “Men,” he’ll start “A Life in the Theater” for TNT.

“MY ONLY REGRET is that I didn’t meet her five years ago,” said Emilio Estevez of his bride, Paula Abdul. “Being married to her is wonderful.” They’re now plotting to work together in a feature being readied along with J.F. Lawton. Emilio believes the family that plays together stays together and he told me he’s also developing a father-son story, “Hopeful” by James Duffy, with his father, Martin Sheen. Emilio would like to direct. “It’ll be interesting,” he laughed. “Everyone knows I taught him everything.” (That’s a joke, folks). Emilio’s brother Charlie Sheen cameos in the Estevez-starring “National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon I.” Emilio next starts “Stakeout 2” and follows with “Mighty Ducks 2” as well. “I guess I’m the sequel king,” he said. Estevez also wound the dramatic “Judgment Night”… Anthony Hopkins echoes those sentiments following his non-stop work year. He departs tomorrow for London to start “Shadowlands” for director Richard Attenborough (their fourth film together). Then, Hopkins returns to the stage–to direct “Macbeth” with Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson.

IT’S TIME TO harvest “Random Harvest” again–writer-director David Swift has brought it up to date for Turner Entertainment (theatrical). It’s about an American Marine–in Beirut. Smith says, “It’s perfect for Kevin Costner.” (But what isn’t?) … Jimmy Woods heads to Vancouver for Michael Phillips’ Spelling/CBS’ “Jane’s House.” Anne Archer co-stars. And baseball star Barry Bonds cameos … Robert Foxworth and Mary Steenburgen head to B’way for GBS’ “Candida” at the Roundabout, March 25 in a four-week run, which allows Foxworth to resume the “CBS Shenandoah” series awaiting a spring sked date … And the versatile Christine Lahti (“Leaving Normal”) makes a rare and limited B’way return in “Three Hotels” by Jon Robin Baitz. Ron Rifkin (now starring in Baitz’s “The Substance of Fire” at the Taper) co-stars, March 19 at Circle Rep.

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