Big market for Monroe collectibles

GOOD MORNING: Everyone’s trying to get in some licks on a Marilyn Monroe stamp. Our U.S. Postal Service inaugurated the stamp June 1 and yesterday in a quarter-page ad in several newspapers, the Intl. Collectors Society announced a block of nine MM stamps from San Tome and Principe. Other countries like St. Vincent are stamping up their own Monroe commemoratives. And, Tanzania’s minting Monroe coins as legal tender in $5-$10 amounts. Roger Richman, who represents the Monroe estate, says there are 30 new Monroe licensees. They include an Absolut Vodka campaign, American greeting cards, Bankers Trust Private Advisory Services ad campaign, personal checks, fossil watches, Hallmark calendars and a Schweppes European campaign. Richman’s office, which reps the estates of many celebs, also has a full legal department tracking down bootleggers who prey on “names.” One of the most popular is Albert Einstein: A full-time lawyer is assigned to protecting Einstein’s likeness from poachers. Richman started his biz in 1980 with his first client, W.C. Fields; he sez Fields’ likeness is in the new Hanna-Barbera animated feature, “Cats Don’t Dance,” along with Jimmy Cagney’s carbon and is even featured on a Microsoft screensaver … Mae West, another favorite licensee, may be back on B’way: a producer has petitioned Richman for rights to revive West’s “Diamond Lil” and “Sex” there. West wrote ’em both, y’know … Another favorite licensee star is Groucho Marx, and the latest is a Steve McQueen campaign by Levi Strauss. What’s in a name — or a face? Plenty!

MIKE OVITZ WAS GETTING GLAD HANDS as he made his first appearance post you-know-what Tuesday at Paramount Studios’ preem and party for “Congo.” (Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy are clients of CAA.) Marshall was on hand, but Kennedy was in Oklahoma on the location of their next pic, “Twister.” Marshall calls their “Congo””a good, old-fashioned Saturday matinee kind of movie.” The Kennedy/Marshall banner also has Frank Oz’s “The Indian in the Cupboard” readying for release next month, then “Relic” (directed by Peter Hyams) in pre-production at Par. But Marshall tells me he has his sights set on something far different — an Imax pic themed on the classical guitar music of Rodrigo (96), with Christopher Parkening playing his “Concerto for Guitar,” backed by images of Rodrigo’s homeland, Spain! “I really look forward to doing a movie with only one unit!” Marshall said, having had the release of his multi-unit, $56 million “Congo” pushed up three weeks by Par. (They also lost two weeks due to torrential rains in Costa Rica.) Par’s rushing “Congo” into 2,600 theaters this weekend — twice the number of houses for any Marshall/Kennedy pic, he says … The studio was jungle-decked for the preem by Paul Cunliffe with props from the pic plus Along Came Mary’s food fare, as always, fitting the theme. The preem benefited the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and the L.A. Zoo. Dr. Terry Maple spoke on behalf of Fossey’s work with the endangered mountain gorillas; Betty White spoke on behalf of the L.A. Zoo’s needs. Sherry Lansing, there with husband Billy Friedkin, intro’d the pic’s human principals Laura Linney, Dylan Walsh, Ernie Hudson and Bruce Campbell. Among others on hand, Universal’s Tom Pollock. He, Lew Wasserman, and Sid Sheinberg join Edgar Bronfman Jr. and the “Apollo 13” principals at tonight’s White House screening.

MEBBE NOW THAT PETER TORTORICI’S OUT, Angela Lansbury will get back her Sunday night CBSlot for “Murder She Wrote”? … Pat and Martin Lawrence are expecting their first baby this winter … Where there’s smoke: Giorgio Armani and Arnold Schwarzenegger teamed at the latter’s Santa Monica eatery, Schatzi’s on Main, for a “Cigar Night” and fashion show. Even the ladies, including Maria Shriver and Wanda McDaniel Ruddy lit up stogies with the guys, who included Mayor Riordan, Quentin Tarantino, George Clooney, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Harvey Keitel … And, I was assured it was just a social dinner at Drai’s for model-turned actress (“If Lucy Fell”) Elle Macpherson, Richard Gere (with a night off “Primal Fear”), ICM agents Andrea Eastman and Steve Small and press agent Karen Tenzer … Valerie Harper’s readying to take over after Linda Lavin in Off B’way’s “Death Defying Acts” by Elaine May and Woody Allen for director Michael Blakemore and producer Jean Doumanian. First, Harper and husband Tony Cacciotti are producing Carrie Pittu’s Wednesday nights in June in “Short of Breath” at the Zephyr for a future N.Y. bow … Doumanian is working on a third Woody pic; Sean Penn’s been offered a role … The July 16 Concern Block Party on Rodeo Dr., to be renamed Pierre Cossette Dr., includes an honorary committee, many of whom benefited from Cossette-produced benefits: Bob Daly, David Geffen, Lee Iococca, Aaron Spelling, Mike Ovitz, Donald Trump, Roger Penske, Lew Wasserman, Marvin Davis, Sherry Lansing, George Steinbrenner, Terry Semel, Jerry Perenchio, Peter Ueberroth and Robert Preston Tisch.

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