GOOD MORNING: With the start of the O.J. Simpson trial fast approaching, another famous L.A. media-monster court’ing is moving rapidly in front of the cameras, being readied for April 15 HBO airing. It’s the famous McMartin Pre-School’er, tentatively titled “The Naked Movie Star Games,” with a cast including James Woods as Ray Buckey’s defense attorney Danny Davis, Henry Thomas as Buckey, Shirley Knight as Peggy Buckey, Sada Thompson as the grandmother, Mercedes Ruehl as prosecutor Lael Rubin and Lolita Davidovich as the child therapist. The Oliver Stone-Janet Yang-Abby Mann-James Woods production is directed by Mick Jackson and line produced by Diana Pokorny. Mann has invited Ray Buckey as well as Glen Stevens, one of the prosecutors, to view dailies, “for even more accuracy,” sez Mann, whose home was recently destroyed by arson (now confirmed). He cannot give any comment now as to the suspect(s). But there is security with him and on the set. Henry Thomas (23), who also stars with Woods in the upcoming Trimark “Curse of the Starving Class,” says no one in the “Games” cast is permitted to change any of the dialogue. “They are real touchy about it.” The realism is uppermost in the minds of the producers. Actual footage of the seven-year media frenzy is an important part of this story, Thomas says. Although Buckey’s been around the set, Thomas says he doesn’t want to meet him. “It’s kind of depressing — standing in other people’s shoes”… Add to the army of O.J. mediaphiles — Jackie Mason, who takes a coupla days off his one-man “Politically Incorrect” show in N.Y. to be here with attorney Raoul Felder to cover proceedings for their BBC radio show. They devoted their first five shows to pre-trial and plan gavel-to-gavel coverage — throughout the world. Stay tuned — somewhere.
NBC’S “ER” got its highest ratings ever Thursday opposite the “‘Real’ ER,” installment of CBS’s “48 Hours,” supervising producer Robert Nathan happily told us. “I was frankly surprised at them (CBS).” Obviously nothing is going to stop “ER”– they will have delivered 26 hours this season, shooting each show in an amazing eight days. Nathan, an alumnus of “Law & Order” from N.Y., says they are proud of the quality of actors on the L.A.-filmed series: “In New York we had a huge pool of stage actors available. The fact we can get that quality of acting even for minor roles is a tribute to actors here — and to the show.” It’s not going to be all blood and gore on “ER.” An upcoming seg will have Bobcat Goldthwait as a patient — but we won’t see him. He’ll be under a sheet. However , his unmistakable voice will be a giveaway to the ID of the wild patient … Dennis Hopper returned from houseguesting in Venice along with Woody Allen, Susan Sontag and Annie Liebovitz at Count Volpe’s palazzo, and plunged back into “Waterworld” in Long Beach with a Feb. 1 finale now planned … Doug Cramer was “sinking” the Titanic, also in Long Beach, with a 100-foot section of the ship constructed for a sequence in “No Greater Love,” Cramer’s 16th Danielle Steel NBC telepic. There are 14 more Steel hours to be filmed this year: “Zoga,””The Ring,””Mixed Blessings,””Full Circle” and “Remembrance”! Cramer’s completed writing his play “Lust for Murder,” and four Broadway producers are talking to him. Next is the rewrite on his semi-fictionalized play about his late, former wife Joyce Haber, “The Last Great Dish”… As feared, Francis Ford Coppola and WB have not come to terms on rights for him to film (write and direct) “Pinocchio” at Columbia. “It’s too difficult (and expensive) for this year,” he said sadly. But he was buoyed and overjoyed at the Santa Monica sneak of “Don Juan De Marco and the Centerfold.” He’s now returned to Napa to complete the Jack Kerouac “On the Road” script — and to his expanded winery.
MAX YOUNGSTEIN’S BACK IN ACTION. The former studio topper sounded as exuberant as ever readying to exec produce “Cock & Bull Story” with Bailey Hayes Prods. in England this year with Billy Hayes directing, R.S. Bailey producing …”Professor” Merv Griffin makes his academic bow Jan. 26 at the UCLA Extension’s “Hotel Industry Investment Conference”– at his BevHilton, natch … When Jay Livingston and Ray Evans receive their star on Hollywood Boulevard Thursday, pal Red Buttons will do his “Never Got a Star” routine for the crowd … The Intl. Angel Awards honor Rhonda Fleming and Ted Mann with the Gold Angel Award, Feb. 9 at the Hollywood Roosevelt, for establishing the Rhonda Fleming Research Center at UCLA for Women With Cancer … CBS children’s programming exec Elizabeth Serhan and husband Michael S. welcomed daughter Molly Elizabeth Dec. 28 — cheering first-time grandparents are TV Acad exec director Jim Loper and the L.A. Times’ Mary Lou Loper.