GOOD MORNING: “If Al Pacino ran tomorrow for mayor of New York, he’d give them a good run for their money.” That’s Harold Becker talking and, of course, he may be a bit prejudiced since Pacino’s playing a populist mayor for director/producer Becker in Castle Rock’s “City Hall”… Pacino’s put in time trying political poses, having audited press confabs with Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani at City Hall and followed him for days around town. The movie company’s been given access to inner sanctums including the Council Chamber. Further, Pacino kaffee-klatched with Ed Koch … Ken Lipper, who produces along with Becker and Ed Pressman, and who wrote the original screenplay (rewritten by Bo Goldman), once served as Mayor Koch’s deputy mayor … They shoot Wednesdays through Sundays in the city … Becker admits this is a “big”– as in expensive — picture. The cast of Pacino, John Cusack, Bridget Fonda, Danny Aiello, David Paymer and Martin Landau shoots all over town, with scenes including (expensive) parades. “We’re trying to capture a large canvas of New York — the mayor is involved in everything from running to a fire, to a murder scene. It’s also an intimate story about the conflict between two men — Pacino and Cusack.” And of course, it’s also a love story with Fonda and Cusack.
ALSO FROM NEW YORK: Hal Prince, one of the upcoming (Dec. 4) Kennedy Center Honorees, admits to me, ‘I’m particularly proud that there is something (like the Honors) celebrating the arts. I hope there will be more serious thought given (by government) to the role of arts in the future of the lives of our young people.” He is especially concerned with the current political atmosphere facing arts funding … Prince is readying “The Petrified Prince,” a musical version of Ingmar Bergman’s non-produced screenplay for Public Theater (at the Martinson) with young Edward Gallardo on the book and Michael John LaChiusa, the music and lyrics. “We’ll see whether it’s a Broadway show or not. They (the public) will say so.” He recently returned from staging the opera “Madame Butterfly” in Buenos Aires, also casting “The Kiss of the Spider Woman” (in Spanish) down there for an April 15 opening. He was next off to Chicago for the Civic Light Opera run of “Candide.” Meanwhile, he has three companies on Broadway: “The Phantom of the Opera,””Kiss of the Spider Woman” and his latest hit, “Show Boat.” But now, “for the first time in a long time,” Prince says he’s taking “a year off without going into rehearsal on anything” after “Petrified Prince.””I don’t think I’ll have a play onstage for a couple of years.” However, he is thinking about an original musical based on American history. Alfred Uhry (“Driving Miss Daisy”) is writing and young composer Jason Robert Brown will music. “My head is with young composers and librettists,” said Prince, “to get young people in to see (the shows) — to have a genuine taste of the contemporary.” Thus, Prince will be encouraging young talent to tackle Broadway. He says 20 years ago he warned B’way would be in trouble if the economics continued. Prince, enjoying the huge success of “Show Boat,” admits he was touched by the ovation from the showbiz audience at the Actors’ Benefit performance. He’s next off to rest at his home in the French Alps where he’ll learn to ski. I’m beside myself with joy,” Norman Lear told me Thanksgiving morning when he and wife Lyn welcomed twin daughters named Madelaine Rose and Brianna Elizabeth at Cedars-Sinai Hospital with the assistance of a surrogate mother. The Lears, who have a son Benjamin, 6, had tried unsuccessfully through three pregnancies, he said. The had always hoped to have a sibling for their son. The Lears have been married eight years. When I asked the 72-year-old Lear whether this would also be the birth of a new series, the father of “All in the Family”just laughed.
JUDGE LANCE ITO, no longer a stranger to showbiz, following his weeklong TV appearances, has received a letter from pianist Roger Williams, who volunteers to play a special concert for jurors on the O.J. case while they are sequestered. Williams would not play “Jailhouse Rock”… Col. Tom Parker, who has been getting tributes all year on his 85th birthday, will be honored by the Showmen’s League of America Dec. 7 at the Las Vegas Hilton. The Colonel tells me he has been nixing book offers on Elvis. “I’ve turned down quite a bit of money. You know what they want — dirt — I’m not a dirt farmer.” He gave his approval to “Good Rockin’ Tonight, 20 Years on the Road and on the Town with Elvis Presley” (Simon & Schuster) by Joe Esposito, Presley’s longtime road manager. The book’s in its third printing … Dwayne Hickman and his wife, Joan Roberts, stopped by with a copy of their fascinating “Forever Dobie” (Birch Lane), the story of Hickman’s hegira from the backlot at 20th as an actor in ’58 to his effective exec offices at CBS.