Jones takes Oscar reins

GOOD MORNING: Quincy Jones will produce the 68th Academy Awards, to air March 25 on ABC from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. … Jones is no stranger to Oscar. This year, he was the recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, given by the Board of Governors of the Academy. He also conducted and arranged the 43rd Oscars (1971). And was nominated for his score of “In Cold Blood” and songs “The Eyes of Love” and “For Love of Ivy.” He produced the multi-Oscar-nominated “The Color Purple” as well as scoring it. His other feature credits include “In the Heat of the Night,” “The Wiz,” “The Pawnbroker,” “Mirage,” in a list of 50 films. He is an Emmy winner for “Roots” and his Grammy awards and nominations fill an entire page of credits. He produced the all-star “We Are theWorld.” And his biggest show, perhaps, “A Call for Reunion,” a concert at the Lincoln Memorial with President Bill Clinton (on the eve of his inauguration) with an impressive list of Hollywood and entertainment celebs, before a crowd of 500,000 — broadcast by HBO. Next year, the Oscars will reach an estimated audience of 1 billion viewers … Switching from L.A. back to Broadway, I talked with Blake Edwards Monday following the release of final reviews on “Victor/Victoria,” which I saw at its opening last Wednesday. Edwards is not defeated by some negative notices — what’s more, he told me he wants to do another B’way show. “I have an idea for one now,” he said. “This was not a one-shot. I’m so happy I may spend the rest of my life doing the stage. However, I wish I had discovered it 20 years ago. Gower Champion told me then, ‘Come back here. It’s so glorious, so different.’ I love it.” As for the brickbats, he said, “I’ve always been controversial. At least I don’t get moderate reviews. It’s all right or not,” he laughed. As for Julie’s reaction to the criticism, “Well, she would have liked to see one 100% rave,” he admitted. But the box office biz continued with a million-$ take last week. “It’s a mega-hit,” he said. ‘I think all of us would have liked good reviews — after all, our lifeblood is in this. It makes you a little insecure to realize the dangers. But it also angers me to wonder how any reviewer can sit in an audience where people are falling down laughing and ignore it. Well, the difference is I’m doing the show and they’re writing about it.” Edwards and producer Tony Adams already are talking about a British company (sans Julie). “I can make the major changes that I had been considering now,” Edwards said. “But I was bound by things not possible to change — and thus, I had to create smoke and mirrors.” Edwards says the show will come to L.A. and then maybe back to Broadway — after its initial yearlong (or longer) run. The Sunday take was the highest to date. That night, fellow B’way/movie stars Carol Channing and Carol Burnett were in the audience and backstage to congrat Andrews … In the “Victor/Victoria” opening-night audience, I was seated near CAA’s Martin Baum, who originally got Blake to make the American movie version of the German pic “Viktor/Viktoria.” And seated nearby, Cy Feuer, who brought Julie to Broadway for her bow in “The Boy Friend.” Robert Goulet, who was Julie’s Lancelot in “Camelot,” told me he’ll be back on B’way in two years in a musicalized “Henry VIII” with book, lyrics and music by Leslie Bricusse.

ADD PAUL NEWMAN’S NAME to N.Y. legit news. Newman was at Elaine’s with a group responsible for putting on a show for his Hole-in-the-Wall Gang: “They raised $836,000 in a 226-seat house,” Newman beamed. It’s his major interest, y’know. He said he’ll be opening more of those children’s facilities “’till I’m opening one up there,” he said, pointing upward. What about showbiz? He said wife Joanne Woodward was the busy family member. She’s readying to direct “Golden Boy” Off Broadway. Paul is not planning to appear in it … Also at Elaine’s, Steve Martin, dining with art dealers, who were among those giving him a rave for his “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” (at the Promenade), a hit here at the Westwood (now Geffen) Playhouse … Anna Strasberg, at Elaine’s with Bobby Zarem, was heading back to L.A. and the Strasberg Marilyn Monroe Theater where Burt Young and daughter Ann Morea are in the last weekend of “A View From the Bridge” … Terry Southern, who died Sunday, was to have hosted a supper at Elaine’s Nov. 13 to launch publication of the book “Virgin,” for which he did the text … Elaine’s continues to be packed with personalities and fourth estaters digging news and the clams … Meanwhile, Le Cirque remains one of the world’s great restaurants and was a favorite with last week’s entourage of international leaders on hand for the U.N.’s 50th … In the Regency lobby I met up with Mark Hamill, who was excited about producing a five-part mini “Black Pearl” series for Dark Horse Comics. Hamill was en route to Philly and QVC sales of outer space stuff.

CAROL BURNETT ADMITTED she’s having such a good time on B’way in “Moon Over Buffalo” she may stay at the Martin Beck beyond January. However, in the same breath she said she’s homesick for her newest home, in Santa Fe — and keeps a picture of it prominent on the wall of her dressing room. Visiting Burnett backstage with us was John Ritter, who co-starred with Carol in “Noises Off,” which many compare in its in-and-outta door doings to “Buffalo”… Back in L.A., wedding bell news from Warren Cowan and Barbara Gilbert, mother of Melissa and Sara G. (and daughter of Harry Crane), who will tie the knot next month … Sorry to hear Nicky Blair is at Cedars-Sinai recuping from kidney stone surgery. He’s A-OK.

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