Newman has new helming project in works

GOOD MORNING: “It’s time I thought about other things,” Paul Newman told me as he and Joanne Woodward were driving home to Connecticut from N.Y. Thursday. He is readying to direct again — an untitled, 1867-set, “character-driven road show — in the genre of ‘Five Easy Pieces.’ I have to move around to keep people off-balance,” he laughed. It’s for Universal, said Newman, who doesn’t plan to act in the pic — yet. What are his acting plans? “Beats the hell out of me,” he said. What about future racing plans, having won a place in the Guinness Book of Records for his win at the 24-hour Rolex-Daytona Feb. 4-5? “That may have been my last race,” he said (again). “Always leave the party while it’s still cooking.” Woodward had just completed a run in “Arsenic and Old Lace” at the Long Wharf in New Haven. And Newman said he’s been looking “for 25 years” for something like that to lure him to the stage. He’ll be onstage at the Shrine on March 27, for at least one count — to present the Oscar for cinematography. He planned a visit to the Philly location of “12 Monkeys” to visit his “Nobody’s Fool” co-star Bruce Willis and director Terry Gilliam …”NYPD Blue’s” Dennis Franz was at the Van Nuys police station taping “Don’t Be a Target” for Golden Gaters Prods. to air in syndication (KNBC, March 19). Mitch Robbins, of the LAPD’s domestic violence unit, taped with Franz in the squad room. The real cops said they watch his TV’er, said it helps their PR job. Franz told ’em his TV confreres watch the O.J. trial — it sometimes makes ’em late on the stage. Franz and fiancee Joanie Zeck have set an April 1 wedding date. He winds the TV season May 10 and hosts “Saturday Night Live” May 13 … While the Brentwood Mezzaluna eatery biz has boomed — the BevHills Mezzaluna branch on Brighton Way has closed!

“I THOUGHT WE WERE GOING TO CRASH,” Kate Mulgrew told me from D.C. The landing (in a 747) at Dulles was aborted after several “dives in a pervasive atmosphere of terror,” she said. The landing was shifted to Baltimore. Passengers then drove to D.C. She attended the Women in Science & Technology meet at the Kennedy Center, following the White House meeting with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Gore. It was “a humbling experience,” said Mulgrew of her meeting with the women scientists. “I learned more from these exceptional women about passion, grace and courage.” They in turn, told her how much they love her TV’er (“Star Trek Voyager”). “It was my first awareness of the show’s impact. I’ve been sequestered for seven months! I now feel a greater responsibility when I get home”… Talking about responsibility: Laraine Newman is appearing in the March 16-19 “We Interrupt This Program” at the Tiffany to benefit the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Program at Cedars-Sinai in one of nine new plays , “The Poetry Seminar” by Robin Schiff — despite the fact that Newman is very pregnant. “Hopefully, I’ll be so dazzling,” says Radner’s fellow “SNL” alum, “that no one will notice.” She plays a student in love with her teacher. Newman recalled when Radner was ill, she kept her distance from the friends who loved her. “We had to respect her boundaries.” Newman and Radner departed “SNL” with the original cast in 1980, but she still keeps up friendships with Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin. The Tiffany fundraising performances will bow with a silent auction coordinated by Daily Variety’s own Heidi Holicker, with prizes ranging from a walk-on on “Murphy Brown” to fine dinners at top L.A. eateries. The legit benefit is so important, says Newman, because it points up the need for checkups, diagnostic information and research, as “symptoms appear too late.” Newman’s mother died of undiagnosed breast cancer … A benefit for the education fund for children of late agent Michael Rosen will be held Sunday at the Improv.

A TRIBUTE TO ALAN AND MARILYN BERGMAN will be the focus of the Music Center’s 30th-anni May 22 gala and dinner at the Century Plaza. Guess what the talent lineup could be. Barry Brown produces the show and Anne (Mrs. Frank) Johnson chairs the center’s special events … Anthony Quinn, in Paris for Sunday’s Homage at the Festival for Screen Actors, arrived with Catherine Benzin and their 18-month-old daughter, Antonia. Quinn will be 80, April 21. He heads to Italy to show his art works. (Quinn’s wife, Yolanda, filed for separation in N.Y.) … Jerry Lewis, 69 on March 16, will be partied in N.Y. on March 18 by Yanou Collart, who wings in from Paris where CBS is shooting a docu on him … The Friars raised $ 60,000 for their club fund via Wednesday’s black-tie’d smoker-boxing event. Cigar-puffing Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were on hand, as were Burt Reynolds and Lorenzo Lamas. Among ex-fighters, Art Aragon-Reynolds ringsided with Lorenzo’s dad Fernando Lamas. After the bouts, the ring became a stage for comedians Norm Crosby, Dom Irrera and Paul Rodriguez.

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