Fitness guru sinks teeth into film role

GOOD MORNING: After Santa Claus, who is the kids’ favorite gift giver? Why, the Tooth Fairy, of course. And who better to play the Tooth Fairy than — Jake “Body by Jake” Steinfeld. And his 3-year-old daughter is tickled daddy will play the part — as he has, of course, for her in real life! Steinfeld’s prepping the feature with Caravan’s Roger Birnbaum — who was one of “Body’s” first clients. Steinfeld, becoming an industry with “Fit-TV” in 12 million homes — and going international — also signed with Random House “for seven figures” on a book about motivation and with Hachette-Filipacchi for a monthly magazine, Body by Jake, launching in January … Don Johnson resumes his feature starring roles with “The Good Guys” for Rysher, starting in July in Chicago, following his first year in SanFran with the “Nash Bridges” CBSeries, awaiting Wednesday word on renewal. He’ll again be seen on the bigscreen this summer in WB’s “Tin Cup,” co-starring with Kevin Costner and Rene Russo … Alan King signed for his 14th feature, “Bound,” playing a not-so-retired Mafia family head. In “Casino,” you recall, he was a union boss. King writes about his “Casino” experience in his autobiog, “Name Dropping” (Scribner, with Chris Chase), including how fellow comedian-gone-dramatic Don Rickles “kept everybody laughing” during the long shoot, “which boosted morale.” Rickles, meanwhile, is making a career move: He’ll make his first professional Carnegie Hall appearance June 12. Rickles reminds it’s not quite his first time in the hallowed hall — in 1947, while studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in the same building, he appeared in “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” When did Don decide to shift career gears to become “Mr. Warmth”? “When I couldn’t make a living on Broadway.” He eventually graduated from church and temple parties and bingo parlor stands to the big time — like his Taj Mahal date May 24-26.

HAPPY 88TH BIRTHDAY TO JIMMY STEWART. I spoke with him Friday and he was looking forward to the visit of children Judy, Kelly and Michael today. “I still can’t say that I’m feeling fine,” he said slowly (as usual!), but he says his heart is fine and he spends a couple of hours daily with his secretary, tending to business, signing autographs. And reading this column, I was flattered to hear … Make-a-Wish Foundation board member Doug Elmets is in Hollywood to renew the support showbiz has given the organization in its 16 years, during which it has granted 37,000 wishes from the work of 11,000 volunteers — like Elmets. He is confident the “entertainment community believes that the Make-a-Wish Foundation should not be judged so harshly.” He was, of course, referring to the 17-year-old boy’s request to hunt a bear in Alaska. He believes it’s not right to have the request used “for the agenda of the animal rights groups using it as a political football. When we grant a wish,” he added, “the child doesn’t have to be terminal — but in life-threatening (prognosis) beyond his (her) 18th year. We don’t question doctors’ reports. Many Make-a-Wish children survive their condition,” he happily reminds –“but we offered them a respite from hospitals, pain and suffering”… Jason Robards is starring in the “under $2 million” feature “Heartwood” as –“a labor of love.” The environmentally themed dramatic story is set among the redwoods of Mendocino County and deals with the survival of the trees — and the lumber mills. “These two to three weeks out of my life (working in the film) makes life worthwhile. It makes you feel young again,” said Robards, reminding he also does a lot at the Roundabout Theater — with little pay. “That, too, makes it worthwhile.” Robards receives the Save America’s Forest Award Wednesday — in the forest location. He also recently received the Commonwealth Award for lifetime contribution to the dramatic arts.

DON’T TELL HAL LINDEN TO BREAK A LEG — he already did. Friday, during rehearsals for his Cerritos Performing Arts Center two-nighter in which he was co-billed with Lucie Arnaz, Hal tripped into an electrical pit on the stage and was rushed into surgery just hours before he was to go on. Lucie offered to stretch her portion of the show an hour to no avail — both nights were canceled , and won’t be reskedded. All dressed up and no place to go, Lucie & Co. took over the late slot at the Gardenia in West Hollywood, delighting friends with a rip-roaring, if pared down, version of their show …”Pretty Poison,” producer Larry Turman’s 1968 Fox feature film, which won a New York Film Critics screenplay award for Lorenzo Semple, will be remade for the Fox network. Turman exec produces the TVersion, which will star “Melrose Place’s” Grant Show. Brian Ross is adapting Semple’s script, and David Burton Morriss is directing … Oliver Stone delivers one of the tributes to Arthur Hiller June 2 at the Sheba Awards honoring Hiller. Quincy Jones presents the award, Robert Wise is chair of the dinner at Suzan and Mark Hughes’ Grayhall, raising funds for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Research Institute for Pediatric AIDS at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

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