GOOD MORNING: I spoke to George Burns on Monday — after he put in a morning at his office in Hollywood. It was his first time back there in eight weeks. Burns made a few phone calls, including one to his friend Kathy Carr in Dallas. “I’m feeling pretty good,” he told me. “I’ll try to go in again Wednesday. If I can’t make it — I’ll just stay home,” he laughed. As you can imagine, his staff was delighted to see him back, if only briefly … Joan Collins’ literary agent Ed Victor heads to N.Y. this week to sell her autobiog, “2nd Act.” (Her first “act,” “Past Imperfect,” was published in 1982.) Agent Victor thanks Random House’s Alberto Vitale “for doing a great PR job” for Collins — i.e. the recent court case Collins won. The legalistic literary publicity also encouraged Dutton to move up the publishing date of Collins’ novel “Infamous” to March from the original summer, to take advantage of her recent media space. Joan’s autobiog will of course contain the famous Collins wit — with characters ranging from Chaplin to Khrushchev to Collins, Jackie that is … Annette Bening has never forgotten her theatrical roots — or her support for the theater, and now she’s talking a legit return. As a matter of fact, she’s talking about two shows. One is George Furth’s new play, “Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex — and Sex.” The other is “The Gift of the Gorgon,” by Peter Shaffer, which bowed as part of the Royal Shakespeare troupers in London in 1993, with Judi Dench getting raves … Robert Halmi’s grand plans continue — the latest launching planned is “Moby Dick”… Nicholas Meyer, who wrote Homer’s epic “Odyssey” screenplay for Halmi and Francis Ford Coppola, is now writing “The High Ground,” a contemporary, international thriller to star Tom Cruise under his banner with Paula Wagner.

PAUL NEWMAN HAS BOUNCED off a few walls in his race car career — but never got hurt. He’s now nursing a broken bone in his left hand after the car in which he and wife Joanne Woodward were driving was sideswiped by a car reportedly driven over the center divider, striking the Newmans near their Conn. home. Woodward is OK. Newman, in typical downplaying fashion about himself, noted, “I wept more for my car than my (broken) hand”… Oscar reminder: You’ve got to be there to see ‘em to vote for the live-action short films, all five of which will be shown, starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday, at the Acad. Jeff Goldblum hopes he gets off work on time from “Trigger Happy,” in which he’s a dangerous gangster, to see his (he directed) “Little Surprises,” one of the nominees. It’s one of four Chanticleer nominees, and stars Rod Steiger, Kelly Preston, Julie Harris and Christine Cavanaugh — she’s also the voice of “Babe.” Goldblum’s seen next in 20th’s sci-fier “Independence Day,” helping to save the world … The Deauville Film Fest is pushed up to Aug. 30-Sept. 8. The Labor Day weekend start is not making anyone happy, including the airlines, admits Ruda Dauphin … Lorenzo Lamas, who has been getting $ 500,000 apiece for (three) direct-to-video features he’s been doing, nixed an offer for two more during the “Renegade” hiatus to star in director Sidney Furie’s feature “Word of Honor,” rolling May 1 for Northstar Entertainment. “Renegade” has been picked up for its fifth year — a nice wedding present for Lamas, who weds Shauna Sand in late April, at the home of his mom, Arlene Dahl, in N.Y. Lamas also earns mucho dinero as Bacardi’s man in Mexico and South America — for posters only … Double Eagle Entertainment has an April 22 UPN air date following “Star Trek: Voyager” for Rowland Perkins and Margaret Wendt’s “Psychic Chronicles,” by Lucie Salhany and Michael Sullivan … Tony Gardner, head of Altelan Studios’ special-effects house, who just wound “The Rock” with Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage, is now off to Beijing to supervise filming of eight animatronic lead characters he designed and created for MGM’s big-budget fantasy-adventure “Warriors of Virtue.” Ronny Yu directs.

CHASEN’S IS LOOKING ALIVE again — with the enormous double-tiered tent on the west parking lot. It’s for Wednesday’s Polygram post-Grammy party for 1,200. And the Oscar party at Chasen’s will be Paramount-hosted. Upcoming is a meeting by Chasen’s neighbors to again talk about the planned mall, market, etc., to go in the eatery’s site … Victor Drai and his chef Claude Segal plan a June 1 opening of Drai’s Bistro in the former Carroll O’Connor BevHills location. It’ll be a breakfast, lunch and dinner spot for 110 diners … And talking Bistro, Christopher Niklas tells me when Spago moves into his Bistro Garden spot, he’s thinking of moving the Garden either further west — or perhaps to the Sunset Plaza area, just a stone’s throw from the current Spago! It would be a shame to lose another fine L.A. eatery … Among the Sunday night regulars at Madame Wu’s: William Morris’ Hal Ross and wife Marcia, her daughter Melissa Goddard, VP of Wind Dancer, her brother Ron and her mom Roz … The Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters, currently celebrating their 30th anniversary, salute Marion Ross on March 15 at the Sportsmen’s Lodge.

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