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Crawford flying high in stunt show

GOOD MORNING: Michael Crawford, who says he has been rehearsing his MGM Grand show “EFX” “since I was a young man,” told me he learned of the start of previews ($ 65.50) tonight when he saw an ad in Wednesday’s Las Vegas papers. He’d been performing “rehearsals” in the 1,400-seat theater for hotel employees. “I don’t have a part of my body that isn’t bruised,” he admitted. He flies 160 feet through the air from the top of the showroom — he gets up there through a series of trapezes unseen by the audience. In the show, Crawford portrays Merlin , Barnum, Houdini, H.G. Wells and the EFX Master. “It’s incredibly technical,” he admitted. “I don’t get a break for more than one minute and 15 seconds to change costumes. And I make one change — as Merlin — on stage because audiences didn’t believe it was me when I came back after making the change backstage!” Crawford says he went on regular salary Jan. 1. “That’s the theater, ” he reminded, “not like a movie, when you get paid the minute you show up. But if you grow up in the theater, like me, you get used to it and — you love it.” He is contracted for two years starring in the $40 million show. Atlantic releases the album of original songs. John Barry, who started Crawford in the theater with “Billy” in ’74, agreed to allow lyrics to be written to his “Somewhere in Time” music. The words are by B.A. Robertson. The rest of the show’s music is by Don Grady (“My Three Sons”), Ted King and Crawford; Phil Ramone produced the album. The show’s by Gary Goddard for Landmark. Crawford’s daughters Emma and Lucy are winging in to see the show — and their dad — next month.

“LEAVING LAS VEGAS,” Lumiere’s feature starring Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue and directed by Mike Figgis, will be distributed by MGM. Lumiere’s “City of Lost Children” will be distributed by Sony Classics, and Jean and Lila Cazes’ Lumiere also is making a deal for at least one film with Paramount (“Crash”). Lila is here in Hollywood prepping pix she’ll produce (like “Leaving Las Vegas”) , while Jean’s in Paris running the many facets of the biz: French movies, animation, sales of their extensive Hollywood and French library of film classix. She told me they’re negotiating for director Alex Proyas (“The Crow”) to do their “Dark City,” a big sci-fi’er ($ 25 million) in Australia, as well as “Freaks Amor” (from Tom De Haven’s book) to shoot in New Jersey. The latter, set in the year 2000, is about an atomic blast and resultant beautiful mutants. Lila Cazes is still searching for somebody suitable to distrib her “Somebody to Love, ” made last year with Rosie Perez, Harvey Keitel and Anthony Quinn for $ 6 million. Also on her planning board is “The Maker,” to be directed by Tim Hunter (“River’s Edge”) with Leonardo DiCaprio as one of the hoped-for stars … Jean Cazes, in Paris, told me they hope to make three big pix in the U.S. and two smaller ones this year for a total cost of $ 100 million, of which they’ll put up 60%, the rest from American partners, plus one small English pic. Their French film productions (largely pre-financed by French TV) should amount to $ 17 million-$ 20 million. They’re starting one this month. He says the French are not perturbed about Lumiere’s large U.S. filmmaking ventures –“as long as we keep making French films as well we’ll have no political problems,” he assured.

READER’S DIGEST AND DOVE AUDIO have signed an enormous deal for the Digest to market all of the label’s library (more than 1,000 titles), also to create an audio club, go interactive, TV, etc. … Sad to learn casting director Marsha Kleinman died of cancer Tuesday, director-producer Glenn Jordan reported to me. She had done all of his films the past 12 years. The last one was “A Streetcar Named Desire,” starring Jessica Lange, Alec Baldwin, John Goodman and Diane Lane , a three-hour CBS version of Tennessee Williams’ classic that Jordan wound — Tuesday night. Jordan directed “Streetcar” 20 years ago on Cincy boards. The telepic’s script is of the play, slightly shortened for (TV) time with the approval of the Williams estate. Jordan calls it “the greatest American play of the century” and notes, “You should reinterpret every great work of art.” He next directs/produces “Tim,” starring Candice Bergen. The original movie (1979, directed by Michael Pate) starred Piper Laurie and a young(er) Mel Gibson … When Paul Sorvino was interviewed by Oliver Stone for a role in “Nixon,” he was thinking of the thesp to play J. Edgar Hoover, but Sorvino’s wife said Stone should hear Sorvino’s Henry Kissinger imitation (which he did for me over the phone — sensaysh!). So Sorvino got the role as Secretary of State. Bob Hoskins is Hoover … I hope the following is funnier than Bill Maher’s appearance at D.C.’s Radio & TV Correspondents’ dinner last week, but next week, Maher hosts Garry Shandling, Ed McMahon and Kato Kaelin on Comedy Central’s “Politically Incorrect” show March 30 — live … Latest rumored site for the DreamWorks studio: a shuttered Air Force Base on Long Island. The trio can commute in their private jets.

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