‘Confidential’ recalls old H’w’d scandals

GOOD MORNING: Bob Mitchum’s marijuana rap (50 days in jail in 1949), the Lana Turner-Johnny Stompanato saga, Mickey Cohen’s mobsters — along with Kim Basinger in a Veronica Lake coiffure, and look-alikes of Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Ginger Rogers and Shirley Temple. They’re all part of the fabric being woven into New Regency-WB’s 1952 “L.A. Confidential” by director Curtis Hanson. The scandal rag of the era was called Confidential, but in the movie it’s titled Hush-Hush, with its editor-manipulator being played by Danny DeVito. He says he’s been the subject of one of today’s scandal rags only once. “They said I quit playing the violin to become an actor! And when my mother saw it, she said ‘I never knew you played the violin!’ ” Danny’s awaiting reaction from today’s mags after they see how sleazy he is in this movie … Further realism in “Confidential” is a “Dragnet”-like series, “Badge of Honor,” which is used as a major story setting. The “Badge” TV stage was duplicated for the scene I watched Thursday on the real Warners Hollywood Stage 6, where the action was led by DeVito and Kevin Spacey (the latter playing a good cop turned bad). The LAPD is giving the movie company cooperation — crowd and traffic control, etc. — but director Hanson admitted the cops haven’t yet read the script, which tells of the corruption, payoffs, etc., in that earlier era … How to shoot L.A. of 1952 in ’96? Cinematographer Dante Spinotti sez today’s computer magic can easily remove buildings, TV antenna and other wires from l996 skylines. The drama will, of course, include torrid, revealing scenes with Kim Basinger and Russell Crowe, as well as with Gary Pearce. But, director Hanson says he believes “showing less (on screen) is more (effective for the viewer).” How refreshing.

DEAN MARTIN IS THE INSPIRATION for the way Spacey is playing his role in “Confidential.” Spacey reminds what a fine actor Martin was in films like “Rio Bravo” and “Some Came Running.” Spacey also admits he used Joel McCrea (a la Preston Sturges’ “Sulllivan’s Travels”) as an earlier role inspiration. This man (Spacey) has taste! He says his Oscar win (supporting, for “The Usual Suspects”) has brought him his biggest salary, plus offers. But he says, “I have to follow my heart” and plans to go back to B’way for “National Anthem” by Dennis McIntyre; he bought the rights after playing it on stage. He then plans to continue his new movie directing career — he’s now in post on “Albino Alligator.” He brought in the pic for $6 million, which was the total budget as well, he says, for “Usual Suspects.” The casts on both pics worked for little more than scale … DeVito is also in final days mixing “Matilda,” which he directed. Both stars work on their post-productions during their “Confidential” lunch hours and at nights. “Matilda” has an Aug. 2 release. Danny expects a PG rating, but would accept a G, he says. The ad line for “Matilda” will be “Kids Rule!” It’s truly a family film, and will be released at a time when a non-violent, non-action movie should be a welcome change … DeVito’s Jersey Films gets its own building at Universal when he starts production there following the two remaining movies on Jersey’s deal at TriStar … He hopes wife Rhea Perlman will also be shooting her CBS series “Pearl” in the Valley: it’ll give both a chance to see each other and alternate carpooling the kids to school. You know they are a close-knit family. Danny doesn’t plan any guestints in her series — yet.

MEDIA SHY MICHAEL STIPE OF R.E.M., agreed to do voiceovers for spots for the “There’s Life After Sex” AIDS Project L.A. campaign, which launches Monday at Luna Park … I asked “Phenomenon” director Jon Turteltaub how things went with him and John Travolta on their Touchstone pic, now also in final post. “He (Travolta) has a good understanding of what people like about him and his persona. He is extremely confident and never doubts himself and is confident about his instincts. Not that we didn’t have conflicts — sure we fought, but we got through it. He was always willing to do things my way as well as his way.” What ended up on screen? “Half of him and half of me,” he laughed. Turteltaub also told me that, during their filming, Travolta talked about how he looked forward to doing “The Double” with Roman Polanski … Barbara Broccoli, who produced HBO’s “The Crime of the Century,” directed by Mark Rydell, is off to London to ready the January start of the next James Bond epic. Cubby Broccoli, sadly still confined to his home in Beverly Hills, was cheered by a visit from longtime friend Frank Sinatra … The National Domestic Violence Hotline has, to date, received 4,079 calls from men seeking help for their abusive problems, in response to the broadcast of an 800 number at the conclusion of Wednesday’s airing of CBS’ “Unforgivable” starring John Ritter and Harley Jane Kozak … The “Billy Barnes Revue” company met at Miceli’s to honor the memory of member Patty Regan, who died June 10 at her home in Eau Claire, Wis., of cancer.

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