Restoration brings new beauty to ‘My Fair Lady’

GOOD MORNING: She’ll be an even fair-er “My Fair Lady” when CBS brings out the restored Oscar-winning (eight) classic on its 30th anni in September. Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz, who restored “Spartacus” and “Lawrence of Arabia,” had a half million-$ budget from CBS to bring this cinematic chef d’oeuvre back to life. Ken Ross, VP and general manager of CBS Entertainment’s video dept. who greenlighted the project, reminds that the rights to “MFL” reverted from WB in 1972 to CBS, which owned them by virtue of its investment in the original Lerner & Loewe stage musical. (WB paid the unheard-of sum of $ 5 million for limited rights to the movie — which was budgeted at $ 15 million) … Ross reminded, “This is a real wakeup call for the industry to take stock of what they have in their vaults, to babysit and preserve these works of art for posterity — also for present audiences who never saw them. ‘My Fair Lady’ for example, appeals to all ages.” The negative of “MFL” was fading, scratched, with multiple breaks and tears. Digital technology had to be used to restore many individual frames. It is also restored in Dolby Stereo for the six tracks of sound. Ross says the renewed version would make CBS’ Bill Paley, Jack Warner (who produced), George Cukor (who directed) and Cecil Beaton (art directed-costumed) proud. Lots of auxiliary attractions are planned for the cassette, plus a making-of docu. Someone suggested using Audrey Hepburn’s original voice tracks on the restored print. They won’t; it will still be Marni Nixon singing — but the cassette and docu will include samples of Hepburn’s singing.

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED on the way to the Forum — when I emceed the preem of that movie at Mann’s Chinese Theater back in 1966. I arrived on Hollywood Boulevard in a chariot in which I was reading Daily Variety — so help me. Well, Sunday night at the Forum in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone arrived in chariots for the opening of Planet Hollywood, while Steven Seagal rode atop an elephant and Whoopi Goldberg was sedan-chair’d up to the Strip, where thousands of fans had braved the 100-degree-plus temperature for this, the biggest of all openings in Las Vegas — and all for the 14th in this series of showbiz-themed eateries. Keith Barish and Robert Earl had double-whammy’d this event in Vegas, where the VSDA is also holding forth, by presenting Willis and his band in Caesars Sports Pavilion for 10,000 more fans … Don Johnson made his first public appearance since his Betty Ford stay, Friday evening for a brief photo-op session at the pre-opening of Las Vegas’ Planet Hollywood, and Don then took off for China for meetings on commercial investments there. He returns at week’s end for the start of “The Marshal,” his company’s midseason series for ABC starring Jeff Fahey. Johnson exec produces … More about this incredible turnout of celebrities tomorrow.

ALTHOUGH GEORGE BURNS was released from Cedars-Sinai Friday morning and he spent the rest of the day playing bridge, smoking cigars and sipping his pre-dinner martini — he will not go back to work until after Labor Day. His Aug. 14-16 date at the Foxwood Casino in Connecticut has been canceled … And can you believe that Michael Eisner, just out of the hospital himself, was at Chasen’s dining with his family Saturday night? … Katharine Hepburn (87) was at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in N.Y. last week — strictly for a physical as she readies for NBC’s “One Christmas,” based on Truman Capote’s 1983 short story. Her role was not in the original Capote yarn. Filming begins Aug. 29 in Wilmington, N.C. Henry Winkler co-stars with Hepburn, playing the father of an 8 -year-old boy (like Capote). Merrill Karpf and John Dayton team for the third time as producers for Hepburn. John Davis exec produces … Julie Andrews, Blake Edwards, Tony Adams, Leslie Bricusse and musical director Ian Fraser are meeting in Gstaad readying “Victor/Victoria” for November rehearsals, February Boston bow, and April’s N.Y. Marquis opening. The show is budgeted at $ 8.5 million with Polygram partnered. There will be a special tribute to Henry Mancini. Ginny Mancini is birthday’d today in L.A. … Some of the key creative forces of “Star Trek” have created a new sci-fi series, “Shatterworld.” The group includes sci-fi writer D.C. Fontana, Rick Sternbach, who gave “Shatterworld” its unique look (and continues to work on “Star Trek”), and writers Sandy Fries and Fred Kron, who co-created the new show, which features a woman as captain of the ship. Innovative Artists Agency’s Frank Wuyliger and Lisa Santos represent the syndie project … Susan and Peter Tortorici welcomed their third child, a boy, at Santa Monica Hospital July 21 … Barry Manilow’s next Arista album is devoted to the big bands: Harry James, Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, Duke Ellington and Les Brown bands.

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