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Reynolds baffled by new o.j. spokesman

GOOD MORNING: Burt Reynolds, squeezed out of his wholesome Florida orange juice commercials when his not-so wholesome personal life adorned breakfast tables, admits he doesn’t understand how the Florida Citrus Commission inked Rush Limbaugh as their new spokesman. “He’s a little to the right of Attila the Hun,” said Reynolds. “It’s a strange organization. I wouldn’t have done it (the commercials) but I love Florida and the growers. But — I wish him (Limbaugh) all the best.” Reynolds said he’s equally concerned about Howard Stern running for governor of N.Y. “Pretty soon we won’t be able to elect anyone except Billy Graham to be president of the U.S. … As for his current personal life, Reynolds says, “I’m now a monk.” His Florida girlfriend, Pam Seals, has returned South –“No big argument,” he says, and will see her again down there … Reynolds just guested Tony Bennett on his “Evening Shade” and Bennett made Reynolds’ day when he told him, “I just made my final alimony payment — after 15 years!”… Burt claims, “I’ve never been happier — with everybody. I’m rich in friends. It was a terrible year. And when Dinah passed away I was torn to pieces.” He credits his cast and crew for keeping him going during all his personal crises. “It was the worst year of my life. I don’t know what I would have done without that (‘Evening Shade’) family.” He wants to continue the series and has already shot promos for next year. During the hiatus, Reynolds and Dodi Fayed will team to produce two cop features. One, co-starring Joe Mantegna, is titled “Good Cop, Bad Cop.” They plan to plug it at Cannes … Talking earlier of Dinah Shore, the LPGA has named her the first honorary member of their Hall of Fame. And a scholarship program’s to be named in Dinah’s honor.

SORRY TO REPORT Lana Turner is back in the hospital. She is being treated for a lung infection and is undergoing tests while taking antibiotics. It is not a recurrence of cancer, I am told. She had a bout with throat cancer two years ago and underwent radiation, you recall … Natalie Cole will star in the 14th annual St. Jude’s gala June 10 at the Century Plaza. The hospital is the largest pediatric cancer research center in America. Thank you, Danny Thomas … At each Barbra Streisand concert, major blocks of seats will be donated to charities selected by her foundation; the initial, May 25 at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim , will benefit the Natural Resources Defense Council and specifically their work on the issue of pesticides. At least 500 top seats will be given the charity — which will also have a post-concert party where Streisand will make an appearance. At the Wembley Stadium concert in London, Prince Charles’ favorite charity will benefit … Lionel Chetwynd is off to Rome today to ready the six-hours-plus Bible miniseries he’s writing. The first will star Matthew Modine as Jacob. Joseph and Moses will follow (Richard Harris starred in the first, “Abraham”). The productions are for TNT with Lux Italia and Beta-Taurus of Germany with Gerald Rafshoon producing. Chetwynd’s hobby is biblical archeology! He segues into the present with a Henry Kissinger TNT’er with Richard Dreyfuss and Judith James’ banner. Ben Kingsley has been paged to star as Kissinger plus Dabney Coleman as Nixon … Chetwynd is also writing “The Andersonville Trial” for Cates/Doty with Gil C. to direct for the Disney Channel … And Lionel and Walter Bernstein completed writing “The Doomsday Gun” about the arming of Iraq.

PAUL NEWMAN CAMPAIGNED during his Oscar week in Southern Calif. — for brother Arthur N., running for councilman in Rancho Mirage. A reception was held at Joseph Wambaugh’s home … Kim Basinger films a Brazilian beer commercial along with Barkley, the Jack Russell terrier. The pooch also has a two-pic pact with MGM –“Clean Slate” with Dana Carvey and ‘It Runs in the Family” with Charles Grodin, Mary Steenburgen and Kieran Culkin … It’s a “cans film fest” at AMC theaters this weekend; patrons bringing in cans of food for the L.A. Foodbank will get free popcorn in exchange … Jimmy Murphy hosted a kickoff for the April 10 Jimmy Stewart Griffith Park Relay Races benefiting St. John’s Child Study Center. It’s dedicated to Gloria Stewart. Jimmy was unable to attend the kickoff. I spoke to him — his grief for his wife is so intense he has not left the house. His three children take turns visiting from their out-of-town homes to try and cheer him. A note from you could also help. Charlton Heston stood in for Stewart and made a presentation to co-chair Bob Wagner for his untiring efforts … The fall/winter evening line from Armani with its unique beadwork was shown at the Rodeo Boutique as a kickoff for the Friends of Robinson Gardens tour to be held May 6 to endow educational programs for grade schoolers and restore the California landmark.

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