GOOD MORNING: Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental, but — Doug Cramer’s two-act play, “The Last Great Dish,” read to 50 friends at the Tiffany Wednesday night, left no doubt who the principals really are. Cramer was married to L.A. Times columnist Joyce Haber for eight years, divorced over 20 at the time of her death last year. And the lead character in his play, “Mrs. Charlotte Gibson-Stevens,” is described as “Power-driven. For a dozen years at her peak, a respected and feared Hollywood gossip columnist for the biggest paper in town and syndicated throughout the world. She could make careers and films and studios, and also break them — her greatest pleasure in life.” The other characters are an alcoholic son and daughter, nurse, psychiatrist and hairdresser. Cramer says, “It’s a fictionalized treatment — not even the L.A. Times is identified as her newspaper.” The lead was read by Penny Fuller, with Joely Fisher as the daughter , Sasha Jenson the son, John Glover the hairstylist. Randy Bennett directed and Craig Strong also co-produced. Among those on hand for the reading: Fisher’s mom , Connie Stevens (Joely went to school with the Cramers’ daughter), Ann Dozier, a close friend of Haber’s, Ray Stark (Cramer said Stark told him to put the play away for 20 years), Dominick Dunne (who countered with, “Do it, do it,” claimed Cramer. Dunne and Haber battled over literary credits for years), Marty Manulis, Shirlee Fonda, Ames Cushing, Joanne Carson, Allan Carr, Dick Taylor, Rod McKuen, etc. Reaction ranged from “Powerful” to “How could you?”… Cramer may take it Off B’way. He’s already had four plays on those boards. Earlier Wednesday he had a reading, for agents, of Hugh Bush’s feature script, “Earth Angels.” And next week, Cramer starts Danielle Steel’s “Perfect Strangers’ with Robert Urich and Marion Ross.
ROSS HUNTER’S RECUPING after quintuple bypass surgery at Cedars-Sinai … Macdonald Carey (81) could use a cheering note. He’s at home … Steve Allen had to cancel his Cafe Carlyle stand next week, plus this weekend’s Ft. Lauderdale date, as sciatica’s sidelined him. He and “Tonight Show” pals Louis Nye and Bill Dana reteam April 10 at San Gabriel’s auditorium … Lew Wasserman donated the MCA jet to facilitate Angela Lansbury’s appearance in Houston Saturday as hostess for the AmFAR AIDS Research benefit — the generous Lansbury wings out as soon as she winds “Murder, She Wrote” scenes tonight. Liza Minnelli concerts and they expect to raise a million-$ … And David Faustino hosts the Ryan White Youth Service Awards to benefit TeenAIDS in D.C. this weekend … If Hal Kanter’s script at the Oscars is as funny as his lines in “Laughing Matters,” which bowed at the Westwood Playhouse, we’re in for fun Monday night. Kanter was joined by the seasoned comedy cast of Marty Brill, Hank Garrett, Jackie Kahane, and Frankie Pace. Shirley MacLaine (Marty Brill opens for her) said, “You should take it to B’way.” Kanter: “First, let’s get it through Van Nuys.” Hal observed, “Steven Spielberg’s made more money from dinosaurs than all the movies he’s made — from ‘Jaws’ to Jews.” Among those applauding, Jack Klugman, who said he and Tony Randall go out for eight weeks with “The Odd Couple”– strictly to benefit Randall’s National Actors Theatre in N.Y. They’ll also reprise an “Odd Couple” telepic … Mort Sahl, leading the laughs, heads to N.Y.’s Theater 4 April 5 in “Mort Sahl’s America.” And he’ll headline the tribute to Sandy Meisner’s 89th birthday at the Century Plaza April 28. Among those spearheading the night, Sydney Pollack, a Neighborhood Playhouse alumnus … Howard Rapp, who books the Concord and also manages Shecky Greene, happily reports Greene will make his work return (after five years) at the Westbury Music Fair May 12. That’s welcome news.
DEBORAH KERR receives her honorary Oscar Monday night — from presenter Glenn Close … The fans in the stands will again get a chance to shoot pix of the stars — Kodak will distribute 400 cameras to ’em! … President Clinton’s press secretary Dee Dee Myers will be attending the Oscars as guest of “Dave” scripter nominee Gary Ross. Myers will have plenty of opportunity to answer questions from Hollywood Clinton supporters — she will be feted here Sunday afternoon by the Show Coalition at the home of Arnold Steifel and later at a Spago gathering … The Women in Film’s big Oscar bash at the BevWilshire will feature signings on their (future) “Wall of Fame”… Brad Johnson and Jack Elam are inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame, Saturday in Oklahoma City … Norman Lear’s toasted by the Museum of TV & Radio at Saturday’s gala where he’ll be saluted by 50 former co-workers. … The Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center in Memphis and the Good Shepherd Shelter in L.A. benefit from tonight’s Improv show with 12 Elvis impersonators — including Budd Friedman! … And all the hotel and restaurant Oscar parties are contributing their unused food to the Oscar Night Food Rescue Program organized by the End Hunger Network and Extra Helpings … Jon Stewart joins MTV’s Academy Awards Special as “roving reporter” at the parties. He was also cast in “Don’t Drink the Water”… Stuart Whitman replaces Willie Nelson as guestar in a two-hour CBS Chuck Norris “Walker, Texas Ranger” starrer. Willie winged to an Aussie tour — P.S. the script’s rewritten for Whitman — sans song.