‘Five-O’ gets big-budget bigscreen plans

GOOD MORNING: A big aloha to you fans of “Hawaii Five-O”: The TV’er is catching the big wave and will be a feature. And it will be big, promises George Litto, saying it will be in the $50 million-$70 million dollar range. The script’s by Litto and Avery Duff; Litto says he has visions of the Steve McGarrett role being played by Mel Gibson, Michael Douglas or Harrison Ford. Jack Lord starred as McGarrett and James MacArthur played Danny Williams. (We didn’t discuss casting possibilities for the Williams role.) What about a role for Lord (66)? “He could play the governor or senator from Hawaii,” said Litto. Lord was in the CBS series from ’68-’80; it followed with 14 years in syndication of its 284 hours and will probably next go to cable. The script goes out to major studios today; Litto says, “I like developing my own projects, then going to studios.” As for a director, he thinks Andy Davis, Brian De Palma (with whom Litto’s made three films) or Paul Verhoeven would be great. The story would be international in scope, with Hawaii as the gateway, sez Litto, and characters including the president of the U.S., premier of Japan, leaders of Pacific Rim countries, China, Australia, etc. “It would be filled with intrigue, danger and adventure.” He, of course, hopes the feature will become a franchise, a la James Bond. Litto packaged the series back in 1967 with client and “Five-O” creator Leonard Freeman, with whom Litto also teamed for “Route 66,” “Mr. Novak” and “Hang ’em High.” “We had the golden touch,” Litto reminisces. The “Hawaii” feature is partnered with Litto and the Freeman estate in agreement with Freeman’s widow, Rose. Of course, the “Five-O” theme, by Morton Stevens, would be incorporated in the feature, just as Lalo Schifrin’s “Mission: Impossible” theme was used in that pic. Litto is readying another feature, “Soul of the City.” It was originally written by Robert Peete and set in Detroit; however, in ’76 black-themed pix weren’t marketable, said Litto, so they set it in Texas. Litto financed and produced the result, “Drive-In.” Now, he’s going to remake it and switch the locale to south L.A., with Peete again scripting.

MICKEY ROONEY AND WIFE JAN have filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, via attorney Steven R. Fox. Rooney told me he owes the IRS around $1.75 million, dating back to 1974 with penalties. His attorney adds, “He (Rooney) took questionable advice from former advisers” that resulted in tax and other liabilities “that he cannot possibly meet.” Mickey (75) said, “A man has to do what he has to do. Because the government gave me no way out. There was no way to go but this — to protect my wife and family. The government has to do what it has to do. But,” he promises, “I’ll get off the ground”– and has several deals in the works … Michael Jackson must appear in court July 22, in the case dating back to the Jackson Family Honors of February ’94, when Michael failed to perform in the TV’er and Gary Smith was left holding the bag on pre-production costs in excess of $1.2 million. Smith’s attorneys say they welcome the chance to finally present Smith’s case against Michael on trial … George Burns is the subject of a book written by Melissa Miller, a member of a singing group that opened for Burns at the Riviera. Miller moved into Burns’ house (long after Gracie died) for a lengthy spell while she attended UCLA. Miller later married (not George, natch) and has now written a book, “Close But No Cigar,” which Dove will publish. It’s described by Dove’s Michael Viner as “a sweet story.” Meanwhile, Dove is “close to” making a unique deal with Joe Eszterhas on a long-term relationship to publish the book versions of his screenplays, including the “Alan Smithee” script. Dove anticipates signing other screenwriters to book-version their scripts … James Brady’s “White Flame” (Dove hardcover) was purchased by TriStar as a Danny Glover starrer.

“IF YOU DON’T GAMBLE, you don’t belong in this business,” Fox’s Tom Sherak said following the successful preem of “Courage Under Fire” at the Acad and the desert-themed party (by Along Came Mary) at Chasen’s. Although “Fire” was skedded for an Aug. 2 opening, Fox felt the time was right this week for the “adult” pic to be released — with only “Phenomenon” and the upcoming “A Time to Kill’ in the non-action/effects category. “We think there’s room for both, but it’s chancy,” Sherak noted. Producer John Davis affirmed, “There’s room for an alternative picture at this time.” Lou Diamond Phillips, in a terrific performance in the pic, winged out from B’way on his day off from “The King & I” and red-eyed back after the preem. The legiter continues to be boffo and Phillips remains in it until April, by which time he’ll have many pic offers as a result of his courageous, non-heroic “Courage Under Fire” role … Meg Ryan said she wanted to do a change of pace role — and to learn more about the Desert Storm era in which the pic’s set. She follows with “Addicted to Love.” Sean Astin, who plays Patella in “Fire,” was getting congrats, along with wife Christine — they are expecting the stork in December.

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