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Cars crash outside Brando’s house

GOOD MORNING: Marlon Brando said, “I was working at my computer when I heard this noise and I knew it could only be a high-impact accident.” He went outside and 15 feet from the entrance to his house was the crashed car, a man walking about in a daze and two other men trapped inside. Brando called 911. Fire crews got the two men out. The firemen “were wonderful guys,” Brando reported. “For 35 years I’ve lived here wondering when one of the planes flying over the ridge in the flight pattern were going to take off the tops of my trees.” And he also feared the day drag racers on Mulholland Drive would crash into his house. He’s been lucky on both counts. But it was a close call Tuesday. On the showbiz side, Brando told me pal/neighbor Jack Nicholson had shown him the Sean Penn-directed “Crossing Guard.” Here’s Brando’s report: “It wiped me out. I was in tears. I told him (Penn) I want him to direct my next movie.” And he will — it’s “Bull Boy,” said Brando, who talked to Harvey Weinstein to do it via Miramax. Further on Brando and “Crossing Guard”: “It’s the first time I ever saw poetry on film. Everyone is great. Jack (Nicholson) reached into himself for anguish and pain and Anjelica Huston is magnificent”… Coincidentally, I had earlier on Tuesday spoken to Nicholson, who had returned to his home in Aspen to ski with his two youngest children. Jack said Penn is now writing something else for him — the story of a burned-out cop. Penn “is excellent, different, original. Maybe he’s not making a mass audience film, but we’ve got to have a breadth of literature in films, otherwise we’re all making the same thing. If you don’t keep educating the audience, you’ll lose it.” Nicholson, last year’s AFI winner, will pay respects to Steven Spielberg at Thursday’s award, and will present Michelangelo Antonioni his Oscar. Nicholson starred for him in “The Passenger” in 1975. Antonioni “is one of my favorite dudes,” says Jack. He has kept his word about taking a year off. And now says, “I’m ready to go.” Mark Canton has OK’d developing some properties for Jack to direct. And should he want to act in ’em — who would say no?

“NIXON” WILL BE MADE under Andy Vajna’s Cinergi banner at Disney with Anthony Hopkins starring in the sure-to-be controversial biopic. Vajna’s back from Budapest where he and director Alan Parker were site-searching for “Evita,” which is still a long way off. Locations also were checked in Spain and Mexico. No star is set … Lyle Lovett broke his collarbone while motorcycling in Texas but still winged here for tonight’s Grammy performance — however, a medical check Tuesday showed the damage more serious and Lovett returned to Texas. Concert dates may also have to be canceled … Barbara Walters dined at Drai’s with Kato Kaelin and his attorney, Michael Plotkin. Barbara said there’s no plan to interview him on her show “at this point. I was just invited to dinner with him by his attorney.” Among items discussed — Kaelin cutting his hair! … Howcum David Hasselhoff jogged with President Clinton on Tuesday ayem? He and wife Pamela Bach were at the Oval Office after the D.C. Red Cross meet where Hasselhoff spoke for water safety programs. Pamela mentioned to Clinton that they, too, are joggers and Clinton invited them. He picked ’em up in his limo and proceeded to his jogging locale. Clinton said daughter Chelsea is a big fan of “Baywatch”… Bette Midler performs at the White House on Friday for the 25th anni of National Public Radio. Midler is accompanied by Marc Shaiman, playing hooky from scoring “Forget Paris”– but he’ll soak up some White House atmosphere for his next movie — Rob Reiner’s “The American President” starring Michael Douglas … Garry Marshall, again hysterically funny Monday on “Murphy Brown” as Stan Lansing, network boss, is back before the cameras on the show this week for the sixth time and with Pee Wee Herman guesting as his nephew. Marshall modestly says, “I always try to do some acting to get the feel of it to be a better director.” (P.S. he contributes his acting fees to the MPTV Fund) He’s now busy writing his next pic, and completing his autobiog, “Wake Me When It’s Funny” with daughter Lori.

MUSICARES TRIBUTE TO TONY BENNETT raised $1 million at the U-Hilton for NARAS’ program to help down-on-their-luck musicians. Bennett brought down the house with Bonnie Raitt on “St. James’ Infirmary” and with trumpeter Arturo Sandoval on “Body and Soul.” Natalie Cole was on hand to tribute Tony though she could not sing as promised — she’s suffering an inner ear problem. And David Crosby, recuped from transplant surgery, also toasted Tony. Jerry F. Sharell and NARAS president Mike Greene coordinated the night … Frances and Hal Linden’s car was totaled when struck by a hit-and-run driver at the corner of Sawtelle and Olympic. The Lindens were taken by ambulance to St. John’s. He tells me they’re shaken but OK enough to leave Thursday for a QE2 and Viking Sun Far East cruise … Deanna Lund joined Larry King in D.C. and rejoins him in Miami. F. Lee Bailey is King’s Friday guest.

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