Who needs Emmys? Not ‘Home’ troupe

GOOD MORNING: The “Home Improvement” troupe, with but four technical Emmy nominations, was buoyed by exec producer Carmen Finestra’s surprise. He assembled everyone Thursday in the audience of their Stage 4 set at Disney before rehearsals for the fifth season’s first show. I was invited to announce the “surprise”–“the Homey Awards” in which “Home Improvement” members will all be winners. The event will be held Sept. 15, with nominations announced Aug. 13 at 3 a.m. in the back seat of Hugh Grant’s convertible on Sunset Boulevard. Admission to the nominations is $60, while admission to the Homeys themselves is free, but there’s a two-drink minimum — you must have a minimum of two drinks before you sit down to watch the awards. That cheered ’em! Last year’s Homeys statuette was a large screw — which may have reflected their feelings. The “Improvement” troupe treks to Traverse City, Mich., to tape the opening show. They’ve already filmed the new seg to launch the syndicated airings — the seg will be seen later on ABC’s regular season … Charlie Robinson, alumnus of “Night Court,” is an addition to the show this year … Tim Allen spent the hiatus on vacation with his family, eschewing all feature and book offers. What’s the followup feature to his smash “Santa Clause”? He says he’s been very careful about choosing a second — he’s found it in French remake “An Indian in the City,” which he’ll film for Disney after completing 25 TV segs. No, Allen is not the Indian — it’s his son … Another series is being readied by the Wind Dancer group of Finestra, Matt Williams and David McFadzean — the sitcom will be set in N.Y., where Finestra and Williams have second (or is it first?) homes.

IT WAS A GLAMOROUS Hollywood premiere reminiscent of the good old days, with long ribbons of red carpets unspooling on either side of the forecourt of Mann’s Chinese Theater and long, deep rows of fans lining Hollywood Boulevard facing the theater. The fans lingered long after the celebs entered both screens, then followed the crowds as they made their way across the boulevard south to the party. And the faithful even waited for their favorites to depart the party. It was definitely an up night for the pic …”I was smart to make that movie,” Ron Meyer, MCA’s new boss, kidded me. Meyer and Barry Diller were chatting enthusiastically after the movie. Sid Sheinberg, no stranger to the pic, was getting glad hands. As were U Pictures prez Casey Silver and Hal Lieberman, prez of production … Kevin Costner arrived with his children, Annie, Lily and Joe, who had a warm reunion with the film’s young star, Tina Majorino. Costner and his children became close friends with Majorino during the long shoot. Majorino charmed everyone in the very adult crowd — as she had on the movie set. Costner, who is now off to p.a. in Japan, Australia and Mexico, was warm greeting the fans at our microphone, reminding it was they who make all this possible. One discordant note to the happy proceedings — as Costner and his children were making their way down the red carpet, lined with fotogs, a shout took Costner aback. He stopped, removed his sunglasses, straightened, walked over to the area where the voice came from and said, “Do you want to repeat that?” He waited a beat, then proceeded on his way up to us … Other cast members getting the full fan treatment were Dennis Hopper with Victoria Duffy, Jeanne Tripplehorn with Ben Stiller, and Michael Jeter. Jacqueline Bisset said she fully understood how difficult it is to make a movie on the water — she starred in “The Deep,” you recall … The lavish post-preem party for the 2,000 guests was planned and executed by Ambrosia, with a replica of the movie’s atoll circled by food stations featuring sea fare. At one table, Maria Shriver and husband Arnold Schwarzenegger were praising this action’er with fellow movie mayhem star Jean-Claude Van Damme, there with Darcy LaPier. It was a helluva night.

A GOODBYE PARTY FOR Clint Eastwood, his nearly 2-year-old daughter Francesca and Frances Fisher as the femmes took off for Vancouver, where Fisher rented a house for the duration of the 12 segs of “Strange Luck” for Fox, co-starring with D.B. Sweeney. “It’s great to be in one place,” said Fisher, who has been location working on “Female Perversions,” “Waiting for Guffman” and “The Whiskey Heir”… Morgan O’Sullivan is in town from his offices at Ardmore Studios. His company arranges for U.S. companies to film in Ireland, taking advantage of Irish government tax incentives. He’s meeting with U.S. companies including Showtime for “Field of Blood,” Gerald Seymour’s book adapted by Nick Meyer for the screen. O’Sullivan’s responsible for the advantage deals on Robert Halmi’s “Kidnapped” now shooting there, previously his “Scarlett,” plus films including “The Old Curiosity Shop,” Peter Yates’ “Run of the Country,” “Braveheart, ” etc. “Rapture” was not one of O’Sullivan’s projects. “I only deal with triple-A companies,” he reminds … A deal’s finalizing for Kato Kaelin to do a talk’er on KLSX-FM, 97.1, which goes from classic rock to classic talk.

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