GOOD MORNING: Diana Ross segues from playing a paranoid schizophrenic in “Out of Darkness” to a German concentration camp inmate in “Lighter Snow,” the second of her three ABC TV movies. “Darkness” airs Sunday. It is hard to believe the second TV’er could be more dramatic, nor could it produce more applause for Ross’ acting ability than “Darkness.” It’s also hard to believe she has not acted in front of cameras since “The Wiz” in 1978. In “Lighter Snow” she will have an opportunity to sing as well as act — she plays a jazz singer trapped in Germany during WWII and is sentenced to a concentration camp … To celebrate Ross’ film (TV) return, “Darkness” was given a premiere and party Tuesday night in one of the Hollywood Galaxy’s theaters and a celebration was held afterwards at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel … Ross is totally deglamorized (no easy feat) in all but a few moments of “Darkness” and seeing her as her beautiful self after the screening was further testimony to her courage in playing the dramatic role. Audiences and her fans are in for a big shock. Andrew Adelson, who produced with George W. Perkins, told the audience before the screening, “This is not the normal network fare these days and it could not have been made without the involvement of Diana Ross.” Also taking a bow from seats were director Larry Elikann and several cast members. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill has praised the picture. At the conclusion of the film, Ross follows with (and ABC airs) a PSA … Ross received applause several times during the screening.
IN THE PACKED Roosevelt Hotel lobby — inadequate for the mob seeking to congrat Ross — monitors screened clips from her musicvideos, a far cry from her dramatics that preceded in the evening. She’s off to Midem in Cannes to receive honors as a Commander in the Order of Arts & Letters. She’ll be joined by husband Arne Naiss, absent from the Hollywood screening — she said he was mountain climbing … Michael Jackson, who played the Scarecrow to Ross’ Dorothy in Motown’s “The Wiz,” was expected to attend her screening, but did not. Diana has been in contact with him and is supportive. Berry Gordy was there, as were ICM’s Ed Limato and Ross’ attorney John Frankenheimer (not the director). Also there: Quincy Jones, who joined others in wondering how Richard Pryor is faring — he played the title role in “The Wiz,” you recall. Pryor, who has multiple sclerosis, is doing OK, I learned, and is receiving therapy … In the group congratting Ross was Jay Kanter — he will not be joining longtime pal-partner Alan Ladd Jr. at Paramount. This week, Kanter opens his own offices on Wilshire … William Shatner is donning a moustache and plays the heavy to Roy Scheider in the “Hide and Seek” seg of “seaQuest DSV” filming this week with Lindsley Parsons III directing at U … As the earthquake scene in Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts” was screening at Laemmle’s Santa Monica — you guessed it — the real earthquake struck. The theater audience thought it was part of the movie’s effects … New Line preemed its “Blink” at the DGA, followed by a performance by Chi-based band the Drovers, who play ’emselves in the pic … Jim Nabors was cheered by longtime pals Carol Burnett and Phyllis Diller as he waits here for a liver transplant donor at UCLA. Nabors sounded cheery despite the hepatitis-B that has cost him 30 pounds in one month, but he admitted he was shocked to get the news of his condition … Phyllis Diller and Henny Youngman team Friday at the McCallum in Palm Springs … Electronic harpist Lloyd Lindroth, who underwent a heart transplant last Oct. 10, is back at his nightly concerts at the Galleria of Nashville’s Opryland Hotel and his contract has been extended to 1997.
THE “COMMITMENT TO LIFE” AIDS benefit tribute to Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeff Katzenberg, Jan. 27 at the U-Amphi, adds Bruce Springsteen, Angela Lansbury , Lily Tomlin, Boy George, Jennifer Holliday to the already hefty star turnout arranged by chairs Steve Tisch and Dana Miller … Nancy Reagan will add trailers to the drug prevention education videos from the BEST Foundation as her own Nancy Reagan Foundation funds the program with a million-$ grant …”A Celebration of the Life of Pat Buttram” is the theme of Friday ayem’s reminiscing to be held at the Sportsmen’s Lodge … The Composers & Arrangers Foundation and the American Society of Music Arrangers & Composers’ Feb. 8 Wilshire Theater benefit, to provide college-level music scholarships and to put music programs back in schools, boasts a cast of performers including Henry Mancini, Dudley Moore, guests Peggy Lee, Nancy Wilson, Herbie Hancock, Louis Bellson, Wayne Shorter, Elmer Bernstein, Jerry Goldsmith, Maurice Jarre, Johnny Mandel and dozens more. Whatta night.