O’Connor plays grandpa to ‘Five’

GOOD MORNING: Carroll O’Connor returns to work — in five segs of 20th TV’s “Party of Five,” playing the grandfather of the series’ orphaned kids. “I’m a grandpa,” O’Connor reminds: Sean O’Connor, 2 1/2, is the son of the O’Connors’ late son Hugh and daughter-in-law Angela. The family just returned from Rome, where Hugh’s ashes were deposited in a Catholic Church. Carroll says he’d like to start a new series and will talk to the new CBS team this week … After 15 years at Universal, John Landis and Leslie Belzberg move their St. Clare Entertainment TV production company to Disney “with a basketful of ideas.” They also continue their “Dream On” and upcoming “Campus Cops” starring Monte Markham. On the bigscreen, Landis and Dan Aykroyd hope fans will urge Universal’s Casey Silver to greenlight “Blues Bros. 2000,” whose script is now completed. And Landis-Belzberg are “grateful and thrilled” their feature “The Stupids” is now being released by New Line following Savoy’s el foldo. The cast and crew of Landis’ 1977 “National Lampoon’s Animal House” will reunion at the U.S. Comedy Arts Fest in Aspen, hosted by HBO, Feb. 28-March 3 … Tony Shepherd departs as VP of Talent at Spelling TV, after 14 years and over 1,500 hours of shows, from “Dynasty” to “90210”… Jordan’s Prince Abdullah Bin-Al-Hussein, son of King Hussein, made a walk-on last Friday on Par’s”Star Trek: Voyager” series, playing a (costumed) medical officer. The Prince, 33, en route home from a Far East state visit, told me he was sure his father wouldn’t mind. “He’s relaxed about that sort of thing.” With him was Vincent Anthony, adviser to the Prince. He said a joint venture feature at WB is in the works, to be made in Jordan, which is now opening up to showbiz, he says, pointing out the country’s varied, versatile topography … Chasen’s will be cooking again Thursday night for WB’s “Grumpier Old Men” preem party. However, it’s Along Came Mary’s cooks who are at the stoves … And Chasen’s will again be aglow Feb. 6 for Ronald Reagan’s 85th birthday party. Catering here will be by Chasen’s amiable former banquet manager, Arli, who now has his own catering company. And Ronnie Clint, who was Chasen’s popular longtime general manager, is departing his brief stand at Hillcrest Country Club. No decision on the permanent future of Chasen’s — but you can still buy its chili there daily ($19.50 a quart).

SWEET MUSIC TO THE EARS of singers in need: the Society Of Singers’ Ella Awards night for Steve and Eydie raised $500,000-plus via the Dec. 7 gala at the BevHilton. “There are 400 singers in dire need,” said chairwoman Ginny Mancini. George Schlatter produced the show, and Ray Charles was the genius musical director (fresh from the Kennedy Center honors); Earl Brown handled large choruses throughout the night of great music sung by the Lawrences over the years, and recalled in clips. The evening was sparked by the appearance of past winner Frank Sinatra, who received several birthday congrats (it’s his 80th Tuesday, in case you’re living under a rock). Sinatra stood and waved thanks to the crowd. Peggy Lee excused her absence from taping of his ABC special, noting throat problems — here saved only by an SOS’d Air Express’d package of medicine from her pal Lady Cardour in London. After Lee’s rendition of “Ordinary People,” which brought her a standing ovation, emcee Steve Allen said, “The band would like to have some of that cough medicine!” (Allen reminisced liberally; he gave Steve and Eydie their TV start.) Singers included Jack Jones, Lainie Kazan, Toni Tenille, Abbe Lane, Liz Torres, Joe Williams, the “Men on the Street” gang, and singer/Hilton-owner Merv Griffin. He’s decked the Intl. Ballroom with spectacular rose carpeting, inspired by his memory of decorator Dorothy Draper’s work at SanFran’s Fairmont when Griffin was a youngster. Next step for Merv at the hotel should be to overhaul the valet parking. Its ineptitude destroys a hard-worked event … As usual, the program ended with the entire audience singing “Dream.”

ADD MORE SINATRA BIRTHDAY recognition: the staff in the WB commissary is wearing Frank Sinatra-designed (painted) ties … Gary Owens hosts the PBS Sinatra special airing Tuesday. Owens’ friendly voice will also be the welcoming tones for the WB Studio Tour beginning early next year … Mabel King’s 64th birthday is Christmas Day, but it will be toasted with “A Celebration Of Life” Thursday at the Academy Plaza Theater. The long list of players on Dick Sheehan’s show will final chorus her favorite song, “Amazing Grace”– plus “White Christmas.” King, a double amputee, and now recuping from a wheelchair accident and stroke, resides at the Motion Picture Country House. Friends who cannot attend are asked to make donations, which will buy tickets for patients of the MPTV Hospital … On Wednesday, B’way’s Carol Channing (“Hello, Dolly!”), Valerie Harper (“Death Defying Acts”) and Nathan Lane (“Funny Thing” coming up) throw the switch on the B’way Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Holiday Tree in the middle of Times Square.

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