Darden dishes on book, film deals

GOOD MORNING: Lunching at the Grill in BevHills Tuesday, Christopher Darden, his William Morris agents Norman Brokaw and Rob Carlson and — producer Steve Tisch, who allowed, “It’s premature — but I am talking the possibility of getting involved with him (Darden), optioning the film rights to his book deal.” The “book deal” is seven figures with Regan Books an imprint from HarperCollins. Meanwhile, Brokaw’s off to N.Y. today with Marcia Clark to talk her book offers … Asked about the rumors of a sale of the Bistro Garden to a group from CAA, Chris Niklas said, “The neighborhood is a-bustle with offers.” But no deal’s set with anyone — yet. What would CAA’ers do with the eatery? Some say they’d turn it into a private club … Meanwhile, CAA’s departing partner Bill Haber, readying to leave in a week for Westport, Conn., and his new job with Save the Children, has big plans for a January fundraiser by the entertainment community to aid the children of the inner cities. His announcement of the new non-showbiz affiliation already brought in hefty offer$ of support from showbiz friends. Good show, Bill … Disney and Leslie Nielsen are talking the live-action “Mr. Magoo,” which Pat Proft is writing. Pat penned for years with Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker, of whose banner Nielsen is also an alumnus … Charles Bronson, at Corinna and Freddie Fields’ gala Halloween costume party, said he’s calling it quits (to this business of acting) — after one final commitment remaining to be filled. Why agents get gray! But Bronson’s pretty lady friend Kim Weeks is trying to encourage Charlie to do one more Western before hanging up the gloves. Stay tuned. By the way, there were more costumed “Phantoms of the Opera” than Judge Itos at this Halloween bash. What about yours? … Eric Douglas is the national campaign voiceover for the Wausau commercials, which bow this weekend on “60 Minutes.” “How ironic,” says Douglas, “I can’t get insurance — and I’m the voice for a giant insurance company!”

IT’S A DOUBLE CELEBRATION, Quincy Jones told me as he gratefully accepted the offer to produce the Oscar show (revealed here Tuesday). “I am also celebrating 50 years in the business!” He said the agreement to produce and for Whoopi Goldberg to again host “came about real fast.” He says Goldberg “was so gracious about it.” Jones added he’s happy to be working again with director Jeff Margolis and Acad prez Arthur Hiller, for whom he scored “The Out-of-Towners.” But first, Jones is an out-of-towner himself as he heads out on an 11-city tour for his new album, “Jook Joint” (Qwest). He also has four features in development and four shows on TV … Robert Ward’s new, rave-reviewed novel “The Cactus Garden” (Pocket Books, hardcover) was optioned by Par Network TV, which plans to convert the book about a DEA agent and a B-movie queen into a telepic with series potential. Ward will script. He co-exec produced “Miami Vice” and “New York Undercover”… Kelly Goodman, no stranger to showbiz bookworms whom she assists at Brentano’s Century City, can be seen on stage weekends at the Improv in “Broad Comedy”… Roger Moore and Christina Tholstrup segued from N.Y. and the “Victor/Victoria” preem to Florida, where Moore delivers Unicef speeches , then presents pal Michael Caine with a Lifetime Achievement Award Nov. 12 in Fort Lauderdale. Caine opens his seventh eatery, the South Beach Brasserie, in Miami … The state-of-the-art theater in the Museum of TV & Radio will be named in honor of the late, well-loved John H. Mitchell. The museum’s skedded to open (in BevHills) next spring. Construction looks to be going along well on Little Santa Monica … Capital Cities/ABC’s Bob Iger is honored by the National Conference of Christians & Jews with its Humanitarian award Nov. 9 at the BevHilton … Love permeated the Friars as Sherwood Schwartz was honored with the BevHills Theatre Guild’s Spotlight Award, presented by George Schaefer. Hal Kanter intro’d the panel of Schwartz alumni including Larry Gelbart, Mort Lachman, Mel Shavelson, George Wyle, Frank DeVol, Shelley Long, Barry Williams, Russell Johnson, Dawn Wells and Bob Denver, “Gilligan” himself. Charles Champlin m.c.’d. Sherwood’s plate continues to fill with new “Brady Bunch” and “Gilligan” projects.

A TRULY HAPPY “Home for the Holidays.” Thanks to Par, Barry London, Jodie Foster, Cineplex Odeon and the movie’s co-star, Cynthia Stevenson — who narrates — TheatreVision “shows””Home” for the blind and visually impaired this weekend at the Century Plaza. Helen Harris says 100 headsets will be available at afternoon and evening screenings. It’s the first ever in an open (movie) theater. The pic’s N.Y. preem tonight benefits Best Buddies and the L.A. preem helped Big Sisters … Third generation: Mike Frankovich III, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class, received a commendation aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as he d.j.’s the ship’s KRUZ radio station. Grandpa Frankovich was a WWII Army colonel (pilot); his dad, Frankovich Jr., was in the Army in Vietnam.

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