Halmi cuts cost, ‘Travels’ to TV land

GOOD MORNING: Robert Halmi Sr., who has a bundle of feature projects going both theatrically and for the networks, is in Denver with his son talking their own cable-plus digital outlets for their library. The energetic Halmi, who celebrates his 72nd birthday Jan. 22, then arrives in L.A. next week for web confabs — and to preem his $30 million “Gulliver’s Travels” which airs Feb. 4-5 on NBC. Howcum it didn’t go bigscreen? “It would have cost $60 million to do on film rather than on tape.” On the bigscreen front, Halmi’s “Robinson Crusoe,” starring Pierce Brosnan, goes back before the cameras in Scotland at midmonth for an opening sequence with Brosnan and Polly Walker. Miramax will release the film, which originally was headed to CBS — before Brosnan made his James Bond deal. Sez Halmi, “It’s like ‘Mr. & Mrs. Bridge’: I wasn’t going to TV with that, either, when I got Paul Newman!” Now, Halmi says he “owes” CBS a vidpic. “We have a good relationship”… Time and Newsweek purchased pictures of O.J. Simpson from Larry Schiller, whose fiancee Kathy Amerman has been lensing this chapter of Simpson’s doings while author Schiller’s continuing to document Simpson for another book. Schiller says he has nothing to do with the infomercial or Simpson tape with Ross Becker. “I made a documentary about the shooting of it (the Becker tape). I’m here to preserve the historical record of EVERYthing that’s going on. I’m preserving it with photos and interviews.” Stay tuned for Chapter 3 … You’d think there was enough snow in N.Y., but Joan Rivers and daughter Melissa winged to the Alps in Lucerne, Switzerland, specifically to launch a tieup and promotional prizes with Swissair on E! Entertainment, where the Riverses do the pre-Emmy, Oscar, etc. shows. After only one (!) day there, Joan, QVC’s top seller, heads to London, where she’s also boffo on Britain’s QVC … QVC has completed a campaign here called Q Check, with celebs urging channel surfers to watch QVC regularly. F’rinstance, Susan Lucci sez, “I Q Check during the Emmys.”

HE HASN’T DONE A SERIES guestint since before “Magnum,” and won’t do another; but when Tom Selleck was invited by “Friends” he couldn’t say no, especially since his first day has him kissing Courteney Cox. And yes, he watches and likes the show. Selleck’s mom, Martha, is installed today as president of the Motion Picture Screen Smart Set, who work so hard for the MPTV Fund. She succeeds Bruce Willis’ mom, Marlene … With the success of the live-action porker pic “Babe,” why not a charming pooch pic? “Happy at the Bel-Air” (Dove), Gwen Davis’ delightful romantic tale of her Yorky’s romantics at the hotel is now being discussed with producer Gerald R. Molen (“Schindler’s List,” “The Lost World”). “Happy” is a Waldenbooks and Brentano’s featured special for Valentine’s Day … Zsa Zsa Gabor’s writing “Dogs in My Life”–“real ones,” zshe zsays. She’s also penning the story of her tumultuous past year(s). Gabor will soon be seen in an extravagant NutraSweet commercial in which she’s mansion-cocktail partying a large group of cops … Congrats to Bill Hertz, who celebrates 50 years as “Mr. Public Relations” with Mann Theaters and previously Fox West Coast. Fortunately for Mann — and for all of us ink-stained wretches — Hertz has no intention of retiring. They don’t make ’em any nicer or more efficient than Hertz … Al Simms celebrates his 85th birthday today. He joined American-Intl. Pictures (AIP) when it was formed in 1954 … It’s a Torn family fest in N.Y., where Rip directs daughter Angelica and son John in “Strangers in the Land of Canaan,” by Paul Alexander, at the Synchronicity Space in SoHo (through Rip’s Sanctuary Theater). And son Tony is in Richard Foreman’s “The Universe” Off B’way while Rip’s significant other, Amy Wright, is a hit with Uta Hagen in the SRO “Mrs. Klein,” also Off B’way.

RED BUTTONS RECEIVES the Gold Angel Award for his many charitable appearances Feb. 8 at the 19th annual Intl. Angel Awards at the Hollywood Roosevelt … Pia Zadora’s caricature was unveiled at Sardi’s Tuesday. Pals who showed, despite the snow, included producer Jean Doumanian, who just returned from Europe filming finales on Woody Allen’s latest … Walter Matthau, making good progress at home post surgery, says he’s cheered by the biz of “Grumpier Old Men II.””It’s not exactly ‘Hamlet’ but people come out of the theater smiling.” He says his days also are brightened by phone calls, including those of Sophia Loren. “To work with her was like a Christmas present. She is so bright, so intelligent. It’s like having lunch with a pal”… The TV Acad’s Primetime Awards administrator, Julie Carroll, was married Monday at the Mulholland Club to Seth Shore, KCAL’s sports unit manager … Veronique and Gregory Peck celebrated their 40th wedding anni in Paris at their Espadon at the Hotel Ritz. Son Anthony and daughter Cecilia winged over to celebrate with them … Gale Storm’s recouping at the Laguna Hills Palm Terrace following hip replacement surgery at Cedars-Sinai.

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