GOOD MORNING: A very sad Craig Stevens called me yesterday to say his wife, Alexis Smith, died of cancer at Cedars-Sinai at 11:30 ayem. She had celebrated her 72nd birthday Tuesday, “and looked 52,” Craig added. They would have toasted their 49th wedding anni June 18. Stevens reminded they met at WB, “where we grew up,” did countless movies, 14 plays and innumerable TV shows. The last play was, appropriately, “Love Letters” last year, as a benefit. “We loved working together — and supporting each other. There never was any jealousy,” Stevens told me. Smith had been very brave following her stay at the hospital for treatment of a brain tumor, and when we spoke to her last month when she went home to rest before further radiation treatments, she was cheery and very positive. But a week ago the “aggressive” cancer took over. Both Alexis and Craig were only children — and had no children — but she will be missed by the entire showbiz family. No services had yet been set … Patty Fuller, ex-wife of thesp Robert Fuller, also died of cancer. Bob flew to her bedside in Jupiter, Fla., to be with her and their three children. The funeral will be held today in Jupiter … Pierre Cossette tells me Tommy Tune’s July 9 opening at the Pantages is canceled. Ditto two weeks in Chi, six weeks at the Curran in SanFran. He’ll re-sked when Tune’s ankle is healed. If the Pantages is not available, they’ll shift to the Wilshire or — ?… Brandon Tartikoff’s in L.A. following stops in Nashville and SanFran. He attended the Nashville “Fan Fare” with top country-western stars — he’s readying a two-hour CBS pilot, “The Xs and Os,” about ex-wives of country-western stars. At S.F.’s National Cable TV Assn. meet, he “observed the future — interactivity,” etc. He’s readying the Tom Clancy “Op-Center” NBC series to film in Huntington, Md. And he’ll talk “significant” pix properties here … George Englund closed a deal with Random House for Manuel Noriega’s autobiography, which Englund will produce-direct for HBO. Englund, you recall, also made Marlon Brando’s deal at Random House — and we’re happy to report Marlon’s making good progress on the book.
ATTENTION ALL CELEBS — and press agents. I was talking with Jim Murray at Jim-and-Vin night at the BevHilton, where the Richstone Family Center honored Vin Scully as previous winner. Murray made introductory remarks. I asked Murray’s permission to quote his Tuesday L.A. Times column, in which he called to task Michael Jordan — not for jaunts on the greens of San Diego or green felts of Atlantic City, but for instituting “a reign of silence toward the press.” Murray’s column, excerpted here, could be a primer for personalities (in any/all fields) whose own didos destroy their perspective of allegiance to the media. Murray wrote (to Jordan): “With money comes fame. With fame, out goes privacy.” He even quoted Spinoza: “Fame has this great drawback, that if we pursue it we must direct our lives in such a way as to please the fancy of men, avoiding what they dislike and seeking what is pleasing to them.” Murray reminded: “Anyone who is famous aches to be anonymous. Anyone anonymous aches to be famous. You can’t just take the money and run. You belong to the ages — and the masses — now. There was room for only one Garbo. There’s no going back. You bought into the system. You owe it to the game to participate in the hype. Because you’re the beneficiary of generations of that hype. If you didn’t want it you should have become an insurance salesman. You can’t give the money back. So give something else back. … The media’s not your enemy. The media’s your ally. … That’s how you sell tickets, shoes, cola, dinners at your restaurant. … Just remember, even the Lord wanted the Bible.” Thanks Jim. Murray called Scully the man with “the golden larynx, the MVP of every year and the greatest left-hander of them all.” Scully, a raconteur par excellence, shared the medal he received with wife Sandi. Daughter Catherine warbled “Unforgettable” to her dad, Bob Newhart did his hysterical Abner Doubleday routine and Mac Davis was Will Rogers. Bob Courtney emceed. Peter O’Malley was dinner chair and Linda McCoy chaired the exec committee. More than $ 70,000 was raised for the Richstone Center to support victims of child abuse.
ADD ANOTHER MAJOR association for CAA — MTV will now be represented by the agency for its movie and TV projects … Wallis Nicita and partner Lauren Lloyd return to WB for a two-year, first-look production agreement. It’s sort of a homecoming as both worked with senior VP of talent Marion Dougherty in the mid ‘ 80s … Screenwriter-producer Charlie Hauck, who helped write for the Clinton campaign, will dine at the White House Wednesday. He’ll be accompanied by daughter Flannery, who is head of Clinton’s L.A. Youth Development Jobs Program. On the 14th, Morrow publishes Hauck’s first novel, “Artistic Differences.” And Frank Price’s banner films his script, “Engaged,” while CBS has a midseason slot for his WB pilot, “Now Everybody Really Hates Me” by Patty Marx and Jane Read-Martin … Screenwriters Carolyn Shelby and Christopher Ames celebrate their 20th wedding anni Sunday by renewing their vows in Maui at the Kapalua Bay Hotel.