O.J. craze shows no sign of waning

GOOD MORNING: How do you fill the space with more bizarre “O-biz”? How about a Playboy layout with an O.Juror? Pix are being taken of one of ’em at John Warren’s Lindsey Studios complex in Santa Clarita this week … Several other jurors were being readied by NBC on a familiar simulated courtroom set at that same Lindsey Studios complex Wednesday for hoped-for satellited reactions to the three-hour (no) show with Simpson … Among those happy the Simpson appearance was canceled — Larry King, who still hopes to enlarge (in person) his initial, phoned conversation with Simpson … King was lunching at the BevHills Grill while nearby was Bob Shapiro. And over at the William Morris office Wednesday when news of the O.J. K.O. broke were Marcia Clark and Chris Darden, getting photo’d for their agency presentation packages … The extra, final scene of “Jade” is gone. “Billy (Friedkin) and I won,” said an exuberant Joe Eszterhas. “The studio backed down after audiences gave our ending — exactly when the killer is revealed — 15-20 more points” than the extended version. Eszterhas’ association with Par continues on “Reliable Sources,” after which he’d like to return to the serious subjects for which he was known in “Music Box” and “Betrayed,” treating the subjects of anti-Semitism, racism, civil unrest, etc. A subject who fits in, he says, is Father Coughlin of Michigan’s Church of the Little Flower. Smarting from the brickbats of “Showgirls,” Joe allows, “If you have successes — you can have failures.” He’s now celebrating as he’s awarded the Emanuel Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award for raising public awareness for the Holocaust in Hungary. Eszterhas, a Catholic, came to the U.S. from Hungary (the town of Csakanydoroszlo!) at the age of 6, grew up in an Hungarian emigre community in which “many were former Hungarian Nazis and deeply anti-Semitic.” He studied the Holocaust, distanced himself from his Hungarian background with “Music Box.” “The Hungarian people felt I betrayed my heritage.” But he pulled no punches telling how Hungarians — not Germans — killed 800,000 Jews “when the war was clearly over.” He receives his award Nov. 6 at the Hotel Pierre with Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert chairing and New York Gov. George Pataki, of Hungarian descent, presenting. And fellow Hungarian Andy Vajna will receive the Holocaust Memorial Builder award.

SANDRA BERNHARD “GUEST HOSTS” on “The Larry Sanders Show” taping this week as Larry (Garry Shandling) undergoes plastic surgery — in the script, that is. Or is it? “It’s supposed to be a secret,” says co-star Rip Torn, “but of course everyone knows about it.” Torn, whose tour de force in the “Artie After Hours” seg of “Sanders” was aired again this week, admits, “Many of these show are as strong as anything I’ve done on Broadway. Garry is so meticulous — how he gets any sleep nobody knows.” Torn winged to N.Y. for the wedding of son Anthony to HBO’s Beth Milles at the Pierre. Rip recited a Shakespeare sonnet and a tribute to “a wonderful mother, Geraldine Page. Everybody knows what a wonderful actress she was”… Mike Wallace is profiling Julie Andrews for “60 Minutes” as she readies for her B’way return in “Victor/Victoria”… The House of Seagram is prepping for a higher Hollywood profile with its new relative, Universal Pictures. One of the projects perking is an “Absolut (get it?) Best of L.A.” awards gala on the backlot of Universal. Also, pre-screenings of U pix for bartender groups. Who better to schmooze movies than bartenders? … Bruce Jay Friedman’s signed with Marion Rosenberg’s agency. His “Collected Short Fiction” will be published by Donald Fine. “It’s a gold mine of movie ideas,” Rosenberg reminds … Larry Drake, the developmentally disabled Benny on “L.A. Law,” has made a new career of “heavies.” Following his evil doings in “Darkman,” coming up is “The Journey of August King” in which he plays an American slave owner and “gives the most compelling turn” of the pic, wrote Daily Variety’s Todd McCarthy at its Telluride bow. And now, he’s off to Australia for NBC’s mini, based on Peter Benchley’s “The Beast,” in which he’s the antagonist to William Peterson.

THE SOCIETY OF SINGERS GIFTED gallant Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer LaVern Baker with a ($4,000) motorized wheelchair from which she performed (after losing both legs to diabetes) at the Cinegrill and now she’s booked to play two weeks at San Francisco’s Fairmont, starting Nov. 1 … Neile Adams bows her new cabaret show at the Gardenia this weekend prior to her Oct. 25 return to Danny’s Skylight Room in New York … Peabody Award winner Dr. Billy Taylor starts a sixth National Public radio series of “Jazz From the Kennedy Center,” airing on KPCC here … Robert Altman is considering putting together a docu feature using a great deal of the greats in jazz he had to cut from “Kansas City”… Press agents, start your engines: Johnny Grant’s opened his KTLA offices for his 18th Hollywood Christmas Parade — Dec. 3.

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