Helmers line up to woo Depp

GOOD MORNING: “The location looked like the Directors Guild of America,” said John Badham of his Bonaventure Hotel site (eight weeks) for Par’s “Nick of Time.” Howcum? “Almost every day another director came on the set trying to woo Johnny Depp for his next picture!” Badham said the list included Tony Scott, Gus Van Sant, etc. And with good reason: Badham said Depp is “the most honest actor I’ve met in a long time. He has a sense of truth, of reality that imbues the moment in which he is appearing.” I told Badham how impressed Marlon Brando was with Depp in the filming of “‘Don Juan de Marco.” Brando invited Depp into his trailer, where he and I were talking. Brando complimented the young thesp and urged him to pursue a serious career, urged him to apply for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and to study Shakespeare to continue his already evident talents. Badham said when he saw “Don Juan,” Depp made you “believe the almost-preposterous character he was playing.” And in “Ed Wood,” Badham says, “I was so touched by his dilemma”… In “Nick of Time,” Badham says, “the movie depends on his (Depp’s) commitment to his daughter, youngster Courtney Chase. She took to him immediately. He is such a nice man — he’s too nice to be a big movie star!” In the pic, the youngster is kidnapped and held as hostage. The assassins demand Depp kill Calif.’s governor, played by Marsha Mason, while she is delivering a speech in the Bonaventure — or the child will be killed. The script by Ebbe Roe Smith and Patrick Duncan “with a Hitchcockian thriller flavor is so strong,” says Badham, it attracted him as well as Depp. Christopher Walken co-stars. Coincidentally, John Travolta was once mentioned for “Nick of Time.” You recall Badham directed Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever,” which cost $3.5 million — less than half of what Travolta’s getting for his upcoming pix! And one of the upcoming movies, “Donnie Brasco,” which Travolta was to do with Al Pacino, is now on Depp’s plate. “Nick of Time” came in “well under $ 30 million” and Par is so hot on it they’ve upped the release date to Columbus Day weekend. Badham receives Cal State L.A.’s “Rosebud” (you know the meaning!) award July 6 with a weeklong retro.

CORINNA FIELDS, SHARE’S NEW PRESIDENT, celebrated her 50th birthday Wednesday with 50 of her lady friends — most of ’em SHARE ladies … The celeb golf tourney Monday at El Caballero C.C. benefiting Vista Del Mar will have more bon mots than birdies — the duffers include Buddy Hackett, Shecky Greene, Dick Martin, Norm Crosby, John Byner, Jack Carter, Harvey Korman, Tom Poston, Bobby Morse and Arte Johnson. Hal Linden hosts and Lyle Waggoner auctioneers … Producer Ron Shedlo, whose “Carrington” won two Cannes awards, has set Paul Theroux to script a biopic on Dr. Tom Dooley, the Navy officer vet of Vietnam (not the character of the song). The movie also will reveal his homosexuality and dishonorable discharge, says Shedlo … Producer Michael Levy, whose “Eye for an Eye” is in principal photography, acquired rights to “The Slightly Older Guy” (Simon & Schuster), Bruce J. Friedman’s comedy about one man’s reflections on his passage into middle age … Diva’s bow at the Hollywood Roosevelt’s Cinegrill brought out Dolores, Bob and Linda Hope, Nancy Malone, “Butch” Stone, Van Alexander, etc. … Pat H. Broeske and Peter Harry Brown’s “Howard Hughes: The Untold Story” will be published in March by Dutton. They say their book, unlike the business books about Hughes in the past, “restores his image as a matinee idol — and one of the most romantic figures of the ’30s and ’40s.” They even got Billie Dove to tell all. And they found 2,000 pages of FBI surveillance reports detailing relationships with Lana, Ava, etc. And, the authors say, “We totally disproved the charges of homosexuality”… Carl Reiner’s “Continue Laughing,” which continues his roman a clef, comes out in August with revelations of his WWII life, funnily fictionalized.

THE GIRLS FROM IPANEMA, that wild and sensual Brazilian revue featuring Christine Callil, will be at the Moonlight Tango Cafe July 5; on Bastille Day (July 14, y’know) Les Chansons Francaises featuring Janine Tavoularis and Edward Diamantte will be on hand … Second generation: SRO at the Lee Strasberg theater, Elizabeth Guber (Lynda and Peter’s daughter) co-stars and Edoardo Ponti (son of Carlo P. and Sophia Loren) directs Eugene Ionesco’s “The Lesson”… Gina Eckstine, daughter of Billy E., bows with Horace Heidt’s big band July 1 at the Sherman Oaks estates … Julian Myers, 77, won the Anchorage Alaska Marathon in his age division: 70 or older! No kidding … While the caricatures of Bette Midler and Whoopi Goldberg were ordered removed from ads and stage props for “Forbidden Hollywood” at the Coronet, they are still very prominent on the programs and in the show’s sketches — which are hilarious, by the way … I will be working out of town, on assignment, returning here July 5 — have a bangup 4th.

CORRECTION: Carl Reiner’s book, “Continue Laughing,” has just been published and is available now in bookstores. Release date was incorrect in an item Friday.

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