Composer tunes Lansbury, Barney

GOOD MORNING: What do Angela Lansbury and Barney have in common? Jerry Herman. The Tony-winning composer-lyricist is writing the score for Lansbury’s two-hour CBSpecial “Mrs. Santa Claus”; he’s also making his kidpic bow, composing the theme for Barney’s theatrical feature debut for David Geffen’s movie banner, not (yet) part of the DreamWorks sked. Herman is enthralled with both assignments. Of Angela — for whom he did “Mame” and “Dear World”– he says , “She’s the best; the idea of working with her again is thrilling. And remember , most of her ‘Murder She Wrote’ fans don’t even know about her singing talents. It’s again a real treat for me.” He’s written a full score for “Mrs. Claus”: seven songs. He says one of them, “Almost Young,” is a show-stopper. And the title tune, “Mrs. Santa Claus,” is also a beauty. “It’s a real score for her to sing. She’s a phenomenon.” He got the call for the Barney tune from Sheryl Leach , creator of “Barney.” Herman, although 69, is no stranger to the purple dino –“I have a goddaughter, 5 years old,” he tells me. “It’s time I got a new audience. The song is a symbol of kids using their imagination,” he says, “and I guarantee people coming out of that movie will be humming it!”… Carol Channing, who just wound (another) B’way stand in Herman’s “Hello, Dolly!” gets a lifetime achievement award from the L.A. Drama Critics Circle March 18 at the Sportsmen’s Lodge … The Geffen Playhouse stand for Nicol Williamson in “Jack: A Night on the Town With John Barrymore” has a terrif $150,000 advance, reports Gil Cates, producer-manager of the theater (among his many titles at UCLA). Cates received a personal invite from Quincy Jones to attend this year’s Oscars, but Gil says he’ll watch it at home with wife Judy and partner Dennis Doty, eating pizzas.

“IT’S KIND OF BIZARRE,” Kim Novak tells me, “coming back to Columbia — at MGM. No, it’s not MGM, it’s Sony,” she corrects herself. She’ll be at Sony’s Studio Monday for the screening of the newly restored 1955 “Picnic” (co-starred with Bill Holden) and dedication of the Novak and Holden theatres on the lot. She had dusted off Hollywood’s stardust, living happily with Dr. Bob Malloy (20th wedding anni, Tuesday) in Crater Lake, Ore., and Carmel. “Once in a while, I’ve missed Hollywood,” she admits. And recently, while on the film jury in Yubari, Japan, she got the urge to come back after seeing a Czech pic, “Accumulator One,” which she loves and wants to see distributed in the U.S. Her last pic was “Liebestraum,” directed by Mike Figgis. Novak admits, “We (she and Figgis) had a difference of opinion on the role and I didn’t want to be part of Hollywood anymore. But I guess I’m getting restless again.” P.S.: She’s retained her agent at William Morris, Gayle Nachlis … Scott Glenn, back in town from the Nicaraguan location of Ken Loach’s “Carla’s Song,” says they traveled at night with armed guards and were always told to stay in the rear of their vehicles. “They even gave me an AK47 and told me, ‘Use it if trouble starts.’ ” Outside of that — the experience working with Loach was “the best movie acting experience I ever had. Ken shoots completely in sequence — even when they had to go back and forth from Scotland!” Glenn also does two scenes completely in Spanish. “They’ll use subtitles for ’em.” He next hies to Baja to cameo in daughters Dakota and Rio’s film “Long Distance” with Greg Smith (Dakota’s fiance) directing, Joachim Hanwright as d.p. It’s the story of Glenn’s hegira from the U.S. to Baja, driving an ambulance. From there, Glenn returns to B’way (last there in “Burn This”) in Eric Overmeyer’s “Dark Rapture” at the Second Stage.

A SCHOLARSHIP FUND IN THE NAME of the late “Postman” star Massimo Troisi has been set up by Landmark Films at the UCLA Dept. of Italian, with proceeds from a four-pic retro of the actor’s films to tour the country. It was set with UCLA’s Marjorie Kim, director of development, humanities. And it’s expected as much as $50,000 will benefit a student … Meanwhile, over in London, Harvey Weinstein reports while at the royal “Restoration” preem with Prince Charles, the two of ’em teamed on a wager “across the board” (it’s kosher to bet on Oscars in London) that “The Postman” would win … My report here was confirmed in Milan that Martin Scorsese and Giorgio Armani will team on a pic: It’s a feature docu on the history of Italian films. Armani’s exec producer and will fund. Guests at tonight’s showing of Armani’s women’s fall-winter fashions include Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, Mira Sorvino …”Last Seduction” producer Jonathan Shestack and wife-screenwriter Portia Iversen guesteam on”Cure Autism Now” on Sunday’s “Marketa’s People & Places Now” cabler. They have a 3-year-old autistic son … Now it’s Architectural Digest with a special Hollywood (April) issue — not only features today’s stars but homes of stars in Hollywood’s halycon days are recalled, including those of Bing Crosby, Orson Welles, Jayne Mansfield and the Santa Monica home of Cary Grant and Randolph Scott, between their respective marriages.

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