Griffith again lining up projects

GOOD MORNING: Melanie Griffith is hot — again. She segued from “Nobody’s Fool” to the CBS mini “Buffalo Girls,” just wound New Line’s “Gaslight Addition” with Demi Moore (who also produces), and now Griffith stars in “Too Much” with Antonio Banderas and Daryl Hannah for Occidental Media Inc. Griffith plays an eccentric heiress on the rebound from marriage No. 2 when she meets artist Banderas — who then meets Hannah. It’s director Fernando Trueba’s first American pic (his “Belle Epoque” was a foreign language Oscar winner from Spain) and shoots in Miami and the Bahamas. Andres Vincent Gomez and Christina Huete produce from the Donald Westlake novel … Theatrical producer extraordinaire Cameron Mackintosh is here for the “Miss Saigon” bow in the revamped Ahmanson — where his “Phantom of the Opera” held sway. Mackintosh checked out the theater’s changes and said, “It is a huge improvement — a much better place to play in. The stage properly fits the auditorium.” He found a few places to correct the sound and spent Sunday between the matinee and evening shows helping to balance. He philosophically said of the helicopter’s failure to land Saturday night, “It only seems to happen at galas — once during a Royal Performance!” There are about 30 companies of his productions now playing around the world and he next heads to N.Y. to rehearse a national company to bow in Seattle. Other “Saigon” companies will range from Budapest to Japan to Stuttgart to Amsterdam. And then, there are the companies of “Les Miserables,””Phantom,””Cats,””Five Guys Named Moe” and his latest London hit, “Oliver.” His next musical is “The Return of Martin Guerre,” also written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, who gave us “Les Miz” and “Miss Saigon.” It was already the inspiration for the movie “Sommersby,” he reminds. I asked Mackintosh if he had any movie plans. “When the right director with the right story comes along,” Mackintosh said, adding that it wasn’t just a coincidence that stage musicals like “West Side Story” and “Sound of Music” became hit pix. Mackintosh is a fan of movies and told me he just saw — and liked –“Legends of the Fall.” Could it be a musical?

LIZA MINNELLI LIKES it out here again and is planning to buy a house and move back to L.A. She’s making good progress since her hip surgery and is already planning her first performance, Feb. 8 at the BAFTA/L.A. gala honoring Anthony Hopkins at the BevWilshire. Billy Stritch will accompany Liza … Ben Kingsley, Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Stewart and Miriam Margolyes narrate “Liberation,” a new doc produced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Moriah Films Division that will be a feature of the Berlin Film Fest. Repping the pic in Berlin will be “Liberation” director Arnold Schwartman and exec producer Richard Trank, who did the highly emotional films shown at last week’s dinner honoring Ted Turner. The docu will also be screened here Thursday at the Simon Wiesenthal Center as part of a program commemorating the 50th anni of the liberation of Auschwitz … Allan Rich, who plays Demi Moore’s lawyer in “Disclosure” and former NBC president Robert Kintner in “Quiz Show,” has started a nonprofit company, called If It Ain’t on the Page, producing films that explore human prejudice and distributing them free to schools … The Beverly Hills Hotel officially reopens June 3 with a gala party benefiting the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Guests will pay $ 1,000 apiece to tour and check out the hotel including the new Crystal Room (seating 650) … John Boorman has started the TV special that he revealed to me in London. It’s based on paintings of the Louvre and he’s signed John Hurt to star in the seg based on “Two Nudes and a Bath.” It’s some change from Hurt’s just-wound “Rob Roy,””Wild Bill” and “Dead Man.”

TOP NFL PLAYERS and top recording artists are teaming to cut two albums, “NFL Jams” and “NFL Country.” It’s Gridiron Records and Tommy Boy Music Co.’s collaboration. They’ll announce the players and singers in Miami on Friday, two days before the Super Bowl. The Dolphins’ Tim Irwin is skedded to sing at the conference … Rodney Dangerfield, turned down for Acad membership, will get respect when he receives the creative achievement award from the Comedy Awards, March 6 …”The Jungle Book’s” writers, Ronald Yanover and Mark D. Geldman, next tackle “Tom Thumb.” Raju Patei and Mark Damon produce in the deal by Casey Bierer of Stone Manners Agency … Agent Bobby Littman undergoes kidney cancer surgery today at Cedars-Sinai … Agent Charles Stern invites industryites to turn on computers and participate in his America On-Line motion picture forum at 7 p.m. tonight when he queries Dawn Steel.

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