Murphy in Grazer’s ‘Life’

GOOD MORNING: After their teaming on the successful “The Nutty Professor,” Eddie Murphy and producer Brian Grazer are nutty about each other and will team again on “Life.” Grazer describes it as a “buddy picture set in prison.” It’s not clear yet howmany prisoners, wardens, etc. Eddie will play in this one. Has Jerry Lewis seen Eddie Murphy’s “Professor?” “I don’t know,” said Grazer. But Jerry sent Murphy a good luck fax for last week’s bow; and Joe Stabile, Jerry’s longtime (over 30 years!) manager was present at the preem at U’s Amphi last Thursday night. He told me, “Eddie did a great job” and reported that to Lewis on tour (forever?) in “Damn Yankees”; the show is in Dallas, moves on to Chi and Portland before a one-week break in Hawaii. Then Jerry does a week on his boat and the Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day weekend, and then on to SanFran, L.A. and London. Lewis celebrated his 70th birthday March 16; Stabile, his 80th last week … Grazer is now producing “Liar Liar” starring Jim Carrey, with “Nutty Professor’s” Tom Shadyac directing. Jon Lovitz joins the cast, as an accountant to Carrey’s divorce lawyer. Grazer promises, “There’ll be no sharp left turns” from Carrey’s well-known prowess: “We’re not trying to reinvent him.” Grazer took “Ransom” out for its first sneak, and they loved it in La Canada. Mel Gibson sneaked in to see it … Rick Baker, who did the magnificent makeup transformations for Murphy in “The Nutty Professor,” next tackles the “Mighty Joe Young” remake … Among directors studying the new computer world at Digital Domain and ILM is Billy Friedkin, who is readying “Jack the Ripper.” He explains he’s not there because he wants to make it a special f/x pic, but to utilize the new science to create 1888 London’s East End for the movie, which will be filmed on stages in England. Friedkin’s back from a trip to St. Petersburg, with another visitor’s report on that downtrodden people, kids staggering (from drugs) on the streets and only the Mafia affluent. Back here, Sherry Lansing and ICM’s Martha Luttrell hosted a fundraiser at Lansing’s home for Max Baucus (D.-Mont.) in his re-election campaign. Among the over 100 on hand, Felicia and Jack Lemmon and Tova Borgnine.

THE DEATH OF WRITER STEVE TESICH saddened all of us — most of all Peter Yates and wife Vi, who had known him since 1971, when they first started to work on “Breaking Away” (which took ’em eightyears to get filmed). The final script was a combination of Steve’s “The Eagle of Naptown” and “The Cutters.” Yates and Tesich also teamed on “Eyewitness,” “Eleni” and the legit “Passing Game,” which they were talking about doing as a movie. Yates said Tesich had always seemed in perfect health, always rode a bicycle. Yates said a sample of how Tesich could take an ordinary scene and make it great was the passport sequence in “Breaking Away.” Yates had just returned from a location trip in Malaysia, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong for “Cage,” scripted by Gene Quintano for New Regency … Irene and Mike Medavoy are in St. Tropez celebrating their first wedding anni. His Phoenix Pictures, with Arnie Messer is going into production on the company’s first film, “Amy Foster” to be directed by Beeban Kidron (‘To Wong Foo,” etc.). A September start in London is planned; Tim Willocks scripted the Joseph Conrad short story. Polly Tapson and Charles Steel produce … Marvin Worth and Lila Cazes are producing Lumiere Films’ “Slow Motion Riot” and Harold Becker directs. Paul Hapenny (“Christmas Story” and “Double Bend”), who scripts, is also writing Oliver Stone’s “The Cuban Missile Crisis”… The euphoria at 20 th over early returns on “Independence Day” is best described by Tom Sherak: “It’s like being in a candy store. I’ve never witnessed anything like it”… The Bubble Factory’s Sid Sheinberg is bubbling over with enthusiasm over rushes from “That Old Feeling,” starring Bette Midler and Dennis Farina and directed by Carl Reiner. Sheinberg’s Factory is also enthused about “Stinkers” and “McHale’s Navy.” “Nothing we do is the same,” Sid smiled … Robert Enders is readying for London, where he’ll set plans for a 1997 start on a remake of Orson Welles’ 1942 masterpiece, “The Magnificent Ambersons.” Enders has long plotted the pic — even when Welles was alive and Enders had hoped to have Orson do an intro or — ?

DON JOHNSON PARTIES 300 friends for a July 4th fest including fireworks at his Aspen ranch. Among guests: the Aspen School for the Deaf. Johnson next p.a.’s “Tin Cup” and has a mid-August start on the second season of CBS’ “Nash Bridges”… Adelaide’s planning a July 4 picnic for Linda Gray, there to launch Foxtel cable net in Australia, where she’ll also promote a relaunch of “Dallas” and “Models Inc.” and hype the upcoming “Dallas Reunion” special … A record must have been set Tuesday night at the Village Theater in Westwood for the opening night screenings of “Independence Day.” I’ve rarely seen turnouts of this magnitude, as theatergoers literally were queued around the block to get into the theater to see what promises to be one of the summer’s megahits … Sharon Gless winds her “Chapter Two” legit stand in London in midsummer; George Furth reading here of the play’s extension finale, wired Gless saying he has two shows opening in London, one in January, the other mid-June.

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