GOOD MORNING: JohnTravolta giving acting lessons to Danny DeVito? That was the scene in “Get Shorty” that greeted me in a mansion on Crescent Drive north of Sunset. Also in the scene was the gorgeous Rene Russo, who told me, “I’m the slut of the world!” She’s the girlfriend of loanshark Travolta, movie superstar DeVito and B movie producer Gene Hackman in Jersey Films’ version of Elmore Leonard’s bestseller for MGM. It’s rare to see the tell-tale enormous trucks and trailers of a movie company in this neighborhood of $ 10 million homes — just a couple of minutes away from the DeVitos’ home, by the way. But the City of BevHills is cooperating with the filmmakers, they said. The location house boasts an entry hall and stairways like the setting in “Sunset Boulevard” and the enormous living room fireplace is topped by a painting of (superstar) DeVito in a toga’d role. Alongside the fireplace — his Oscar-like award for “Best Actor.” Very funny stuff. Barry Sonnenfeld was directing a scene running flawlessly over eight pages sans cut. He claimed, “The script is so literate and the acting so good, the editing is all in the camera — it doesn’t have to be done afterward.” He cited Howard Hawks as a prime example of that kind of moviemaker … Author Leonard was on the sidelines watching in a chair emblazoned with his “Dutch” nickname. He said it was the first time a movie company invited him to be on hand to view the filming of one of his (10) novels. “It really moves fast,” he said of screenwriter Scott Frank’s script. “I didn’t have an ending (to the book),” he said. “His (Frank’s) is great.” Leonard’s “Pronto” is being readied for the screen by Dick Berg and his next novel, “Riding the Wrap” (Dell), is a prison pic. He is President Clinton’s favorite crime writer and is invited to the White House next week at a state dinner for King Hassan II of Morocco. He joins other writers in congressional hearings, on behalf of the NEA.
FROM $140,000 FOR “PULP FICTION” at Miramax to $ 5 million for “Get Shorty” at MGM to $ 7 million at 20th for “Broken Arrow” to $ 8 million at Rysher for “Lady Takes an Ace,” to a yet-to-be negotiated figure at TriStar for “Danny Brescow” with Al Pacino, John Travolta happily outlined his next year and a half. “I asked Bruce Willis how to pace myself — doing movies back to back. I don’t want to get sick.” Willis told him to take a nap between takes. But Travolta was generous spending time with us in his trailer between “Shorty” scenes. He laughingly said, “I clean up pretty good.” In this film the always-handsome Travolta is neatly coiffed and clean-shaven. Next, he’s “100% evil” in “Broken Arrow.” Travolta’s also proud that wife Kelly Preston is set in three projects, “Devil Inside Me,””Waiting to Exhale,” and “The Vampire Movie” for Quentin Tarantino … Jersey Films’ “Get Shorty” is in turnaround from Sony for MGM, noted Danny DeVito. And his next directing/co-starring (with Rhea Perlman and Mara Wilson) pic, “Matilda,” goes from U in turnaround to Sony, starting next month. “That’s the way it goes,” said Danny. “You have to keep after things you believe in,” reminding how the Weinsteins’ Miramax “stuck with us through thick and thin” on “Pulp Fiction.” Also set to start for Jersey is “Feeling Minnesota” starring Keanu Reeves on a $ 7.5 million budget, and in development, “Velocity” with Jeanne Tripplehorn, Polly Platt to direct. Plus Ben Stiller directing “Spies and Innkeepers.” DeVito, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ivan Reitman hope to team again (“Twins” and “Junior”) — they worked for zilch against a percentage of the grosses of those two. And Danny admits he’s deferred “a bit” of his acting salary on “Get Shorty” as well. But he is also producer, with Michael Shamberg. Director Sonnenfeld and Stacey Sher, prez of Jersey Films , are exec producers. Jersey’s jumping.
LUNCH FOR 1,000 AT EMI’S PLANT in Jacksonville, Ill., was hosted by Garth Brooks celebrating his record 50 million album sales … John Raitt, in the “Roseanne” audience to see son-in-law Michael O’Keefe — who plays Jackie’s husband — wowed the cast, crew, audience when he sang “Oklahoma” with the warmup band … The crew of “The Net” gave Irwin Winkler and Sandra Bullock $100 to play for ’em at ShoWest. They brought back $ 800 after one play at the roulette wheel … Vanity Fair’s giant billboard goes up this ayem on the Sunset Strip with the 10 actresses on the cover — 14 feet high — plus the shot of Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in drag … Tuesday’s Oscar luncheon now boasts 105 nominees with the addition of Winona Ryder, Gary Sinise and Chazz Palminteri … Tonight’s screening of Showtime’s “Zooman” at the TV Acad theater benefits Lou Gossett’s Challengers Boys & Girls Club. It’s the start of Voices Against Violence Week … Virginia Christine (Mrs. Olson of Folger’s Coffee fame) celebrated her 75th birthday with 100 family members and friends …”Picket Fences”‘ Fyvush Finkel, who invited the world to his 50th wedding anni in his Emmy acceptance speech, celebrates his 48th with wife Trudi on Wednesday.