GOOD MORNING: Melanie Griffith joins Jeremy Irons in “Lolita” filming to start next month. Griffith’s in the role played by Shelley Winters in the 1962 version, which also starred James Mason, Peter Sellers and Sue Lyon as Lolita. Griffith has been set-siding in Seattle where Antonio Banderas is co-starring in “Assassins”… Tom Arnold’s carjacking co-star “victim” in “Car Pool” is David Paymer. Arthur Hiller directs the comedy for WB. Paymer’s first feature was “The In-Laws”– also for Hiller. He played a cab driver in that one and drives the car pool in this co-starrer with Arnold. “I guess Arthur Hiller doesn’t care about my acting,” says Paymer, “but he thinks I’m a good driver.” Paymer’s currently playing Ron Ziegler in Oliver Stone’s “Nixon,” fresh from “Unforgettable,” “City Hall” and “The American President” (Michael Douglas, that is) …”The Nutty Professor” has eight weeks left to go and it doesn’t look like Jerry Lewis will be making an appearance. At least that’s what he told me from his “Damn Yankees” Marquis Theater dressing room. He departs Broadway Aug. 6 to prep his Sept. 2-3 Muscular Dystrophy Telethon emanating from CBS’ Television City here and 37 other city cut-ins including Branson, Mo. He does a vid special of “Yankees” and is back on the boards Sept. 25 in Baltimore, continuing on the road until August ’96, then to London and Paris. “Nutty Professor” producer Brian Grazer said, “We always wanted Jerry to be in it and Eddie (Murphy) would love Jerry to be in it.” Murphy’s playing four roles as of now … Anne Rice isn’t bashful about announcing the birth of her latest vampire chronicle, “Memnoch the Devil” (Knopf) — she’ll arrive in a hearse, inside a coffin, dressed as the bride of Lestat. It all takes place July 12 in New Orleans. Everyone will no doubt sing “Fangs for the Memories”… Which reminds me, the Garlic Festival, to be held Saturday-Sunday on the Westwood Federal Building grounds — will boast booths by 30 of the town’s top eateries. Chasen’s chili comes back to life with a stand headed by Maude Chasen’s grandson, Scott McKay, assisted by former Chasen’s captains Raymond and Arli (who now has his own catering biz).

LEST WE FORGET DEPT.: A debate on Hiroshima will be held July 20 at the DGA, hosted by KABC Radio’s Michael Jackson for Showtime in advance of their “Hiroshima” made-for airing Aug. 6, the 50th anni of the dropping of the atomic bomb. The panel includes Col. Lawrence Powell, Dr. James Yamazaki (“Children of the Atomic Bomb”) and the movie’s director, Roger Spottiswoode. A similar debate will be held July 18 at the Edward R. Murrow Room of the National Press Club in D.C. … The 50th anni of the writing of “The Christmas Song” by Bob Wells and Mel Torme will be celebrated Tuesday as Mel sings the song (written in July ’45) at an MTV Beach House taping. The multimillion-platter seller was first recorded by Nat King Cole, then Torme recorded it in ’48, again in ’92 … And Pat Boone’s celebrating the 40th anni of his first million-selling record, “Ain’t That a Shame,” the first of his six No. 1 hits. His “Love Letters in the Sand,” f’rinstance, was on the charts for 34 consecutive weeks … Wednesday night, the first full-scale concert will be held in the new Beverly Hills Hotel’s sparkling Crystal Room with Roger Williams performing for the Children’s Guild of L.A. with Art Linkletter as emcee. Stan Lawrence produces.

IT’S MAGIC TIME: Congrats to Earvin “Magic” Johnson, back from his Maui basketball camp to host tonight’s industry grand opening celebration at his $ 11 million Magic Johnson Theaters in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. (The theaters opened officially June 30.) He is already on screen at the 12-screener telling audiences “This is a community-based theater.” He’s partnered 50-50 with Sony, and next are theaters in Atlanta plus five or six more “major cities,” he told me. Johnson said he has a “say-so on everything,” including the product that plays. “Both sides (he and Sony) will sit down and make decisions — intelligent ones for our customers.” Tonight’s party is a “welcome” to his friends in the industry (and they are legion!) –“a great mix,” he laughed. What about his appearing on screen? “I’ve turned down several roles,” he admitted, “but I’ll wait for something special — a small part. I admire the film industry and I’m a real moviegoer. I’d do something with a group of great actors — where I could learn something. I don’t want to be in a movie just to be in a movie.” What about his basketball career? “They (the Lakers) want me to come back”… Writer-producer Bill Blinn, steering committee prez for the Caucus of Producers, Writers & Directors, spent a few private minutes with President Clinton at the reception following the president’s Georgetown U. speech on responsibility in American society. The Caucus has long taken a strong stand for quality and diversity in TV, and Blinn was the only rep from the national broadcast TV industry invited to attend Georgetown. He reports Clinton showed genuine interest in the Caucus’ agenda.

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