GOOD MORNING:Who will take over for the late Irving and Mary Lazar as hosts for the annual Oscar party at Spago? No one. Further, in memory of the Lazars, Wolfgang Puck and wife Barbara Lazaroff will close the restaurant on Oscar night, March 21. “He (Lazar) was a dear friend and sometimes business comes last,” Puck said. “Besides,” added Barbara, “he was an original.” Wolf admits, “A lot of people, magazines too, wanted to pay for the party. They started asking right after he died. I told them to put it on hold. We felt the tradition should slowly die down — and maybe next year, start a new one (tradition).”
The Pucks were very close to the Lazars and during Swifty’s last, frail weeks , they regularly brought food to his house –“I insisted he eat something,” said Puck. In past years, they had been dinner invitees at the Lazar home when the guest of honor was, for example, Henry Kissinger. And, as a friend, Puck once flew to N.Y. with Lazar when the legendary literary agent came out of a Simon & Schuster meeting and announced to Wolfgang, “I just got you $ 200,000 for a cookbook.” Puck had not asked Irving to make a deal for him — with good reason — he already had one with Random House! And Lazar had to get out of HIS Puck pact! So what will Barbara and Wolfgang do Oscar night? “I’ll probably go skiing with my son Cameron (4),” Puck said. He’ll probably need a rest on Oscar night, as he will have cooked for the 350 guests at the wedding of Marvin and Barbara Davis’ daughter Nancy to Kenneth D. Rickel on the previous Saturday. And Puck’s readying to open yet another eatery in Manhattan Beach. He modestly notes, “The business (restaurant) is coming back.”
THE NEW LOOK FOR THE BIZ is evident in this blockbuster of a deal among ABC, Aaron Spelling and, of course, Blockbuster. They are teaming on the $ 10 million-plus, four-hour mini version of James Michener’s “Texas”– with this twist: Blockbuster will release the video version 60-90 days before it airs on the network. ABC’s Ted Harbert says it will be a huge production and far beyond what the web could OK alone. Blockbuster’s huge outlets and the campaign will make the TV airing even more powerful. And the TV’er will “spur rentals. And maybe encourage cassette sales — at a reduced price. Two companies will be working it hard,” he says. Harbert credits CAA’s Bill Haber for putting together the unique deal and predicts more similar teamings to follow. “And I admire them (Blockbuster) for getting into this side of the business,” added Harbert. Aaron Spelling met with Blockbuster’s Ron Castell to finalize the deal. And Spelling agrees that without this teaming, “No one could afford to do ‘Texas’ “… Richard Lang will direct and he heads to San Antonio to prep. I met up with versatile director Lang Wednesday on a “Burke’s Law” seg, “Who Killed the Soap Star”– it was an awards show arrivals scene hosted by you-know-who. On hand were Gene Barry and his TV “son” Peter Barton, plus Barry’s real son Michael, who is writing a second seg with his dad for the series. Their first, a multi-star show called “Who Killed the Host at the Roast?,” was a big ratings-getter. Guesting in the current chic, tongue-in-cheek show are John Schneider, James Brolin, Bonnie Franklin, David Faustino, Dom DeLuise, plus two gorgeous newcomers, Hunter Tylo and Kimberly Sims. With this new series and the addition of the “Texas” mini, Spelling will have — 137 hours on the air next season!
FOR THE NATALIE WOOD ROLE in his remake of “Miracle on 34th Street,” John Hughes is looking for a boy — or a girl. The only one set so far, as noted here , is Sir Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle … Paramount’s progressing as usual with its future projects, as evidenced by a phone call from Sherry Lansing and John Goldwyn to Mace Neufeld in Mexico on the Neufeld-Bob Rehme “Clear and Present Danger” location giving ’em a go-ahead to set a director on “A Philosophical Investigation.” Philip Kerr’s thriller about a serial killer 20 years hence in England is being scripted by James Dearden. Par’s successful multipic producing duo (Neufeld-Rehme) hasn’t yet heard from Sumner Redstone. But they’d be thrilled to show him their just-completed “Beverly Hills Cop III.” Neufeld says it was “touch and go” to get an OK in Mexico to shoot sequences in the jungle with U.S. Blackhawk ‘copters because of the recent revolt in the south (of Mexico). The U.S. Dept of Defense and our ambassadorial office got clearance for the film troupe one day before they were skedded to shoot explosions, etc. Aside from that, the Mexican government is happy to see the movie company, which is spending mucho dinero down there, including building a $ 400,000 set duplicating Bogota. “It would have cost $ 1.2 million to build here, ” says Mace … Rodney Dangerfield and new wife Joan Child meet her family Feb. 26 in Ogden, Utah. An estimated 125 guests are expected including Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt and Sen. Orrin Hatch. Now, that’s respect … UTAgent Christopher Harbert and non-pro Laurie Bloom will wed Sunday at the Hotel Bel Air … Patricia Lawford Stewart and her husband, BevHills private investigator Daniel K. Stewart, expect their first child Oct. 19 … Betty and Stanley Sheinbaum host the Hollywood Policy Center’s briefing at their home tonight by U.S. Sec’y of Labor Robert Reich on his first trip to L.A. — and his first meeting as Sec’y with the entertainment industry … Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau reprise the classic “Quizzically” sketch by I.A.L. Diamond at the Writers Guild Awards, March 13 at the BevHilton. They originally performed it at the memorial service for Diamond on May 22, 1988. Diamond’s longtime writing partner Billy Wilder will be on hand.