GOOD MORNING: CBS will return “Murder, She Wrote” to its old Sunday timeslot — so far for one shot only — on Jan. 7. “I’d like to think it’s a little New Year’s gift to our legion of loyal but confused viewers,” said Angela Lansbury. “They (CBS) simply informed me” of the return, Lansbury added, “for reasons known only to themselves. They didn’t discuss it with me.” But I discussed it with CBS Entertainment president Leslie Moonves, who conceded, “It’s obvious our shows haven’t been doing quite as well (on Sunday). So we are showing an original ‘Cybill’ on Monday (the 8th). We expect a very strong week.” Will “Murder” return permanently to its old Sunday slot? “You never know,” Moonves said. “We’re trying things all over the place. Being third allows you the luxury of being adventuresome.” Regardless, Angela tells me this, the 12th year, is definitely “Murder’s” last season –“Absolutely. I’m not going to change my mind.” There are eight more segs to shoot. We are looking for a great new year.” It includes, first, the (CBS) telepic “Mrs. Santa Claus,” which will boast many special effects. Lansbury hopes to film at her Universal Studio base. Then, “Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to N.Y.” also for CBS. Tonight, Lansbury hosts a “New England” holiday party for her “Murder” crew and family — 450 who adore her! …”Nixon” controversy and comments: Paul Sorvino, who plays Henry Kissinger in “Nixon”– the thesp gladly slips into his hysterically accurate imitation of Henry K. at the slightest urging — says Mr. K. told him the pic “is an accurate representation of the tragedy of Richard Nixon. Of course it made me look like a major slimeball.” Kissinger’s appraisal of the pic, Sorvino says, was determined from reading the script. “He told me he knew its content before the movie came out — I’m sure he had it (the script) directly from Oliver Stone’s shredder!” The thesp is now starring in and directing the pilot of a planned syndie anthology series, “Twist of Fate.” His daughter Amanda S. also stars, plus Marla Maples Trump, Larry Linville (“MASH”), Stephen Spinella and Josh Hamilton. Sorvino says he’s directing “the way I worked with the best directors in features.” He returned from Mexico City as Capulet in “Verona Beach,” director Baz Luhrmann’s Miami-set version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” script untouched. Jan. 12-13 Sorvino concerts in Seattle with daughter Mira (“Mighty Aphrodite”) joining. Meanwhile, younger daughter Amanda’s play, “The Trouble With Calli,” will be directed by Sorvino pere, with Amanda starring. “Just call us the Flying Sorvinis,” laughs papa Paul.
“CECIL B. DeMILLE WOULD HAVE loved it,” laughed Charlton Heston when I read him Universal Studios Hollywood’s press alert: “Holy Moses! Universal Studios Hollywood Transforms the Red Sea to Purple Sea.” Heston, a Northwestern U. alum, will welcome the Wildcats to the park Dec. 28 in advance of the Rose Bowl game New Year’s Day, “by miraculously turning the Red Sea (attraction) at the park into purple, then parting the waters in honor of his alma mater’s Bowl appearance. Heston will also be in the press box at the game — with the staff of Moses (given him by DeMille) — just in case the Wildcats need any help against USC. Heston also said DeMille laughed at the fabled and oft-repeated, cameraman-attributed gag line, “Ready when you are, C.B.”…”Chicago Hope” co-star Hector Elizondo will be celeb guest commentator for CBS’ New Year’s Day coverage of the Orange Bowl in Miami … With Chasen’s shuttered, Pierre Cossette hosts his Super Bowl party Jan. 28 again this year at N.Y.’s Sardi’s. Merv Griffin offered his BevHilton but Cossette’s now a B’wayite prepping three legit musicals. But he’s of course gonna be here doing the Grammys Feb. 28. Concern Foundation established the Pierre and Mary Cossette research Fund to Eradicate Cancer in honor of their contributions … In keeping with its tradition, the Improv will be feeding homeless people Christmas Day. The event’s coordinated by the Greater West Hollywood Food Coaliton along with Jay Handal, owner of San Gennaro and Bella Pasta, recruiting food from fine L.A. eateries. And James Stephens III and Charles Fleischer will entertain at noon … Celebs will help serve 4,000 Christmas meals at the L.A. Mission Saturday. Steve Allen and wife Jayne Meadows, who have been dishing out the gab and goodies for 15 years, will head the list including comedians Jack Carter and Buddy Hackett.
A CHEERIER VIEW OF LAS VEGAS for a change — Wayne Rogers and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Frank Gilroy team for a third time on “Money Plays” to be produced by Wayne and wife Amy for their Granger Prods. with Gilroy also directing his script. Roy Scheider and Sonia Braga costar in the gambling-backgrounded romantic comedy-thriller — set in Vegas and Utah locations … Gary Owens, who starts a new national radio show Jan. 1 on the Music of Your Life Satellite Network, is also the welcoming and well-known voice for the WB Studio Tour in Burbank starting early in ’96.