Attenborough gets plump role — as Santa

GOOD MORNING: Kris Kringle will be played by Sir Richard Attenborough in John Hughes’ remake of Valentine Davies’ “Miracle on 34th Street.” Edmund Gwenn won the Oscar for his portrayal of Santa Claus in the 1947 race. The versatile Attenborough, co-starring in the most popular film of ’93 (all time?), “Jurassic Park,” is now touring Europe with “Shadowlands”– which he produced and directed … A billboard will soon rise on Sunset Boulevard to toast Robert Evans. His publisher, Hyperion, is that excited about Evans’ autobio, “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” coming out in September. Craig Nelson, who edited Evans’ book, tells me, “It is a masterpiece! Everyone in the business will have to read it. People are going to die when they read it. There’s no middle in it — it’s all up or down.” You recall the book was jettisoned by Paramount-owned Simon & Schuster, reportedly for “political reasons.” Michael Eisner read it in 48 hours and bought it for the Disney-owned Hyperion. Evans, who has been writing the book for three years “for below-minimum wages,” says he now feels “like a hump has been cut off my back.” The book’s 615 manuscript pages have been trimmed to 400 in print plus 60 pix. And although Evans claims the book’s “not mean-spirited,” he adds, “It ain’t no musical!” Hyperion’s Nelson also is editing Peter Manso’s (unauthorized) Marlon Brando bio now at 3,000 manuscript pages, plus David Lynch and Tim Burton bios, and Jane Campion’s novel version of “The Piano”… Jim Nabors’ liver transplant Monday at UCLA Medical Center was successful, with no complications, reports Carol Burnett, who was at the hospital when Jim was summoned Sunday p.m. to prep for hoped-for surgery. Nabors is godfather to Burnett’s daughter Jody “and he’s the brother I never had,” added Carol. The drama, while awaiting the organ and medical checks to see if it and Nabors were compatible, defied any script, said Burnett — but during the dramatic wait, Nabors was in such good spirits he entertained hospital staff and other patients … Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame’r La Verne Baker is at St. Luke’s Hospital recovering from diabetes-related surgery.

IF GOV. PETE WILSON needs to hear about any more crime during his summit in Hollywood, hear this: Three showbiz families were victims of second-floor thefts while they dined downstairs in their own homes. Among those who didn’t realize — until later — that they’d been burglarized: Eydie Gorme and Steve Lawrence … Walter Matthau and wife Carol had to move out of their house, which was severely quake’d. Pal Jack Lemmon cheered Matthau with news that a script’s being readied for a sequel to their “Grumpy Old Men” at WB. (That’s in addition to the upcoming sequel to Walter’s “Dennis the Menace.”) While waiting for the script, Lemmon takes off on a cruise to — the Galapagos Islands … Despite the earthquake damage, Matteo’s on Westwood Boulevard was SRO Sunday night. The facade on the eatery’s front is gone, ditto the inside mirrors — but Matty put up screens along the wall and told everyone to make believe a movie would unspool! Among those cheering him (and one another): a birthday party for Ray Katz; Charlie Bronson, Annabelle and David Begelman, Deborah Raffin and Michael Viner, Abbe Lane and Perry Leff, Estelle and Bob Enders, the Bobby Vintons, Bob Hortons, the Frank Johnsons and, just arrived from N.Y., Alan King … In N.Y. Sunday, Sherry Lansing and William Friedkin cheered “Blue Chips” co-star Shaquille O’Neal as the Orlando Magic played the N.Y. Knicks — but lost. The Friedkins continued on to Boston for Monday’s basketballer screening for Bob Cousey’s favorite charity. Also at the Boston doings — Sumner Redstone … Ginger Lawrence and Denny Sevier departed the Artists Agency to team with Pam Braverman on their own agency — the House of Representatives! Lawrence says, “So many (agencies’ names) sound like law offices or they’re too generic. We wanted something with a touch of whimsy.” They’ve got our vote … Elke Sommer signed with personal manager Leonard Grant and is off to the Berlin film fest. Some of Sommer’s art work joins fellow celebs’ chef d’oeuvres in the Les Celebrities dining room of the Essex House, whose general manager, Wolf Walther, is Elke’s husband.

LIFE IMITATES ART: Lorenzo Lamas, bike-riding star of “Renegade,” opens a motorcycle-and-accessories shop with partner Gary Kinston in Burbank. The place will also boast a coffee bar where riders can rev up … Add life/art: “Frasier’s” Kelsey Grammer, in a recent seg, was auctioned off at a charity bachelor auction. This Thursday, Grammer’s signed on to the Celeb Bachelor Auction, with proceeds going to the Big Brothers of Greater L.A. and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America.

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