GOOD MORNING: Disney wanted him, so did Universal, Columbia, TriStar, Fox and — ? But David Geffen and Warner Bros. lassoed the lovable tyrannosaurus Barney for his bigscreen feature debut –“Barney: The Movie.” Dennis DeShaver produces with Sheryl Leach for the Lyons Group. Universal gave Barney his first Holly-wood exposure with two weeks of live appearances at Universal Studios Hollywood and Orlando. At Barney’s U-Valley outing I was nonplused by his fantastic appeal to young kiddies. I was not alone. Hollywood stars’ kids begged their parents to get Barney to attend their birthday parties. Showbiz elite who became Barneyphiles included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eddie Murphy, John Travolta, Rob Reiner, Tom Hanks, Deidre Hall, Mark Canton. But Geffen got him … Barney was the star of a recent NBC one-hour special, he has three seasons of PBS shows , a double-platinum first record, a publishing house with 29 books to date, sold-out appearances everywhere — including Radio City Music Hall. He is truly a phenomenon. And Geffen noted, “Barney is the Elvis Presley for the 1- to 3 -year-olds. There are millions of parents in this country who are searching for something in the movies that appeals to their young children that isn’t confusing or frightening, and that deals with ideas they care about. Barney is a unique character — he’s completely non-threatening and he doesn’t talk down to 3- and 4-year-olds. We think he’s a wonderful character as the center of a motion picture and we’re very pleased to be working with the Lyons Group to bring Barney to the bigscreen. I am flattered they chose us.” Geffen Pictures president Bonni Lee, whose 3 -year-old daughter, Emma, is a Barney fan, brought Barney to Geffen’s attention. Geffen “has a strong social consciousness, a strong belief in the positive effect of entertainment on children. He wants it to be a memorable experience for children who aren’t targeted by movie entertainment,” Lee said. “We hope to create a unique a moviegoing event tailored specifically for very young children , many of whom will be attending their first movie”… WB also will get rights to distrib the homevideo of the feature film. However, licensed Barney items (and there are hundreds!) are retained by the Lyons Group. The story is in development — as is the budget. Will the bigscreen Barney move into the world of special effects? Very probably. Meanwhile, Geffen’s completed “Interview With the Vampire.”
SERIOUSLY, FOLKS. Steven Spielberg took his “Schindler’s List” high school screenings project to Houston Friday where Gov. Ann Richards moderated a discussion post-showing. In addition to Spielberg, the podium included Holocaust survivor Leon Cooper, who was saved by Schindler and is a Houston resident. Texas film commissioner Marlene Saritzky told me Cooper thought the movie enormously moving, but he said Ralph Fiennes was “not as vicious as Amon Goeth was in real life.” Universal provides the “List” prints (free) to high schoolers around the country, and Texas schools have shown it to 12,000 seniors already. U and Amblin also provide a curriculum to be studied pre-viewing so the youngsters are prepared. The Houston kids were “very moved” and many asked, “What can we do so this never happens again?” Gov. Richards told them: “Speak out against racism , prejudice, no matter how innocuous it seems in conversation.” Spielberg told Richards the program will continue when school resumes in the fall. And he’s called all 50 governors to offer to continue this battle against hatred while also showing the Academy Award-winning film, gratis … President Clinton was surprised Friday night here during the $ 1,000-a-ticket fundraiser for Diane Feinstein at Ron Burkles’ home (Greenacres, the former Harold Lloyd estate) when Ray Charles came onstage to play “A Song for You.” Clinton had announced on MTV that Charles’ rendition of Leon Russell’s tune is his favorite.
COMING OR GOING? Tonight’s final seg of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” was given a royal send-off screening at Paramount last week and a party in a moonscaped setting in the parking lot. But it’s only the beginning — as several cast members also star in the feature “Star Trek: Generations,” to bow at Thanksgiving. Among those joining the bigscreener is series recurring co-star Whoopi Goldberg. “Trek” exec producer Rick Berman said the feature has only two more weeks in production and after that — more features, more series, more merchandise, more billion$ … On hand for Buzz mag’s literary salon at the Chateau Marmont toasting Carrie Fisher and her “Delusions of Grandma” (Simon & Schuster) was her dad, Eddie Fisher, in town from SanFran. Eddie’s writing another autobio. Carrie had the literary group in stitches with her readings — and comments with Jay McInerney. Buzz is readying a one-hour special/pilot for KCBS to air Aug. 27 produced by Robb Dalton and Kevin Meagher … Steve Tisch got an award from Santa Barbara’s AIDS Counseling Program on Saturday, and June 14 in D.C., he joins parents Preston Robert and Joan T. to accept the Community Service Award from the AIDS Action Foundation … Phyllis Hyman sings Bruce Springsteen’s Oscar-winning “Streets of Philadelphia” tonight with the Ford Memorial Tabernacle Choir in the “Light Up the Night Against AIDS” concert at Philly’s Acad of Music.