Letterman gets Oscar tips from Crystal

GOOD MORNING: “I want the (Oscar) show to be good,” Billy Crystal told me — even though he’ll be watching it from home. He phoned David Letterman “to offer whatever he might want to know.” Billy reminds, “We have a great relationship” from his past guestings with David. Among things Letterman asked: What’s the Oscar audience like? Well, one thing’s certain: Acad members at the Shrine aren’t quite like the “Late Show” bunch at the Ed Sullivan theater! Will Letterman use his routines, like a list of 10 reasons why he’s hosting the Oscars? Crystal’s certain Letterman will use some of his tried-and-true (and funny) regular segs of his latenight show. And will Crystal return as a host next year? “You never know,” he allowed, reminding that his final fine-tuning of “Forget Paris” (which he directed and stars in with Debra Winger) is what prevented him from thinking about taking on the Oscar chore this year. He had a highly successful sneak last week in Pasadena and another’s upcoming next week readying for the May release. Then, he’ll spend the summer with his family. His next movie? Something in which he either acts or directs — not both again. He has written an autobiographical feature, “Consider the Rose,” which he’d like to direct. It’s about a 15-year-old boy and a jazz musician … That was no Kenny Rogers lookalike in Tuesday night’s “Legends” show at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas — it was Rogers. He stepped in for remarkable lookalike Mark Hinds, who usually plays Kenny. The audience was not told in advance. Rogers got the idea when he was at a supermarket in Vegas and someone started talking to him thinking he was — Hinds! Rogers, who has homes in Vegas, Branson and a ranch in Athens, Ga., is moving back to the ranch now that his divorce from Marianne is final. When asked if he was planning another “Gambler” pic, he said, “Only if they kill me!” But it doesn’t mean his acting days are over — he’s serious about emoting sans singing.

TOM CRUISE GOT TO MEET his newly adopted son, Connor Antony Kidman Cruise, born Feb. 6, before Tom took off for London and the start of European locations of “Mission Impossible.” Mama Nicole Kidman will bring the baby over — and their 2-year-old daughter, Isabella — when Nicole winds her role in “Batman Forever”… Larry Thompson and Carla Herd are engaged to wed — Valentine’s Day ’96. He proposed to her — with a diamond ring in her champagne glass — at the Russian Tea Room this past Valentine’s Day … Writer-director Tom Holland follows his four-hour ABC “Langoliers” association with Stephen King with a bigscreen version of King’s “Thinner” at Par. In “Thinner,” a gypsy curse causes a 335-pound lawyer (who killed a gypsy woman in an auto crash) to lose three pounds a day until — stay tuned … Holland previously scared us with “Fright Night” and “Child’s Play” plus two “Tales From the Crypt”… Dining separately at Drai’s: Al “A.C.” Cowlings, Faye Resnick, author of “Nicole Brown Simpson: Private Diary of a Life Interrupted,” and the owner of Mezzaluna … Photographer Annie Leibovitz is lensing participants in the case for the New Yorker. Just shot by Leibovitz — Kato Kaelin … The 60th-anniversary issue of the Screen Actor magazine is a must-read so newcomers to the biz can appreciate what SAG’s founding fathers fought for. Reminiscences of stars include Ginger Rogers, Olivia De Havilland, Gene Autry, etc. Lyle Talbot tells of being blacklisted because he joined the Guild. Robert Young tells of meetings in basements “like a Communist cell.” Claire Trevor tells of drying her tears and doing closeups at 2 ayem. And Milton Berle, who tells of being slapped repeatedly by Charlie Chaplin in “Tillie’s Punctured Romance,” admits, “Actors don’t know it, but SAG protects them from producers and directors — and themselves.” The mag will be distributed at the SAG awards, Saturday.

A NOMINATION FEW IN HOLLYWOOD know about: “Nobody’s Fool” has received a nomination for Britain’s top Indie award, the equivalent of our Emmys. But this “Fool” is a Danny Kaye special by British producer Ken Howard and Hollywood’s Mel Shavelson. Kaye was indeed nobody’s fool. Samuel Goldwyn produced many of Kaye’s pix, which Shavelson co-wrote. Sam Goldwyn Jr. holds U.S. rights to the TV’er … Ed McMahon taped his last “Star Search” for syndication Monday at the House of Blues to air Feb. 24 in 140 markets. Then the Rysher show will hopefully move to a major cabler to get a suitable regular timeslot. Among those on hand for the finale taping: Fred Hayman, Budd Friedman, Mike Fenton, composer David Foster … Jane Alexander, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts , arrives here Thursday and will be toasted at ICM by the Hollywood Women’s Political Caucus. A formidable list has confirmed support for her. Annette Bening makes the intros. Events follow that night at Par — sponsored by Women in Film and Sherry Lansing — and the DGA on Saturday ayem when Angela Lansbury will make the intro remarks.

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