GOOD MORNING: CBS has given the go-ahead to the long-in-planning “To Sir With Love” telepic to star Sidney Poitier. He also produces Philip Rosenberg’s script with Craig Baumgarten and Cedric Scott. Baumgarten admits he’s been trying to get the project going for four years — since he went to Poitier “with trepidation.” As you recall, the 1967 feature by producer-director James Clavell had Poitier as a young teacher in a tough London school. The “continuation” starts in London, 30 years later, then Poitier heads to Chicago to teach in a mixed-race high school. Baumgarten says it will “say something about the education process and encourage progress.” The Col-TriStar TV’er probably will be bigscreened overseas. Poitier told me he had been long waiting “for a script to be fashioned worthy of extension of a classic film.” Sidney says, “The questions that plague education the world over are very disturbing and dangerous. The answers seem to elude us still. The chasm between the haves and have-nots has widened.” And he warns that “the key to participation in the new technological world is education — and the key has not yet been found.” Poitier is about to sign a two-picture deal with Showtime … Baumgarten also continues on the “Jade” feature with director Bill Friedkin, looking for the most provocative way to end it. But he assures me, “it’s just tinkering”… Jack Klugman sadly tells me he had to turn down a lucrative offer to hit the road (with a major co-star) in “The Sunshine Boys” because, in Klugman’s last (seventh) throat surgery, a prosthetic injured a vocal cord. “I love acting — I can’t do anything else,” he said softly. But I quickly corrected him — he’s directing and producing the L.A. preem of “Asphalt,” a dark comedy written by Adam Somers (Jack’s son), who is also co-directing with his dad. It bows Sept. 29 (previews tonight) at the Hollywood Jewel Box with hopes to move it to bigger boites and N.Y. Co-starring are Charles Cioffi, Salome Jens and Gibson Frazier.
IN ADDITION TO THE TV (ABC) tribute, “80 Years: His Way,” an eight-hour radio tribute will toast Frank Sinatra’s 80th birthday: “Sinatra: Young at Heart — The Birthday Special.” Among those set so far to join the music-and-birthday greetings are: Presidents Bush and Ford, Walter Cronkite, Angela Lansbury, Jack Lemmon, Kirk Douglas, Kelsey Grammer, and Jon Secada. It will air on consecutive Saturdays, Nov. 18-Dec. 10 — Sinatra’s birthday’s Dec. 12. It will air on 400 stations plus Armed Forces Radio. Tony Renaud produces. I learned this pleasant news Wednesday while busy dispelling the (regular) rumors of his (any celebrity’s) death. Who starts this cruel stuff? … Ronald Shedlo, producer of “Carrington,” which won two special awards at Cannes and closes the N.Y. Festival Oct. 15, phoned from London to express his extreme anger at Gramercy. Howcum? “They refused to pay” for Sheldo to wing to the fest, although, he said, they will spring for Christopher Hampton, Jonathan Pryce and Emma Thompson. Shedlo reminds he worked on the pic for eight years and adds he’s arranged, on his own, for a Nov. 2 charity “Carrington” preem at the Directors Guild theater to benefit the UCLA Film & TV Archives — and to publicize the pic … Another actor’s rehearsing for a Palm Springs mayoral role: Richard Harrison’s running for the office vacated by now-Congressman Sonny Bono. Harrison returned to the U.S. and Palm Springs after a long stand in Rome and spaghetti Westerns. He told me he’d turned down friend Sergio Leone’s offer for “A Fistful of Dollars” and recommended — Clint Eastwood.
ABE LASTFOGEL AND SOPHIE TUCKER — it wasn’t. Thirty William Morris agents gathered around the oval conference table meeting their new clients, Virgin recording stars Spice, the five-girl British band here for TV-pic meets. When a boombox played two of their tunes, Spice took to the floor — and table — to start the WMAgents’ day off on a different note … It was busy Tuesday night around town: More than $200,000 was raised for Nancy Davis’ charity, the Race to Erase MS, with a Calvin Klein fashion show-dinner in a tented party behind Saks on Wilshire. Calvin was there giving apologies to the press querying his recent kiddie ads, but no apologies were needed for his classy fashion show, which brought applause from the SRO crowd. Nancy Davis and her mom, Barbara, were of course Calvin’d; also Dana D., Rita Wilson, Kate Capshaw, Janet Jones and Natalie Cole. And on hand for their new Saks store were chairman-CEO Philip B. Miller and president Rose Marie Bravo. Wolfgang Puck presided over the culinary couture … Meanwhile, over at Eclipse, Donald Bellisario’s “JAG” jumped off to a start with past Bellisario series stars well-wishing him and cast. They included Tom Selleck (“Magnum, P.I.”), Scott Bakula (“Quantum Leap”), Jack Scalia (“Tequila & Bonetti”), Stephen Collins (“Tales of the Gold Monkey”) … The Shofar Synagogue’s DGA High Holy Services as well as services to be held at the Laugh Factory are open to everyone regardless of ability to pay — but reservations are recommended.