GOOD MORNING: The versatile Debbie Allen, who is in post-production (as a producer) on DreamWorks’ highly dramatic “Amistad,” directed by Steven Spielberg, is planning a return to her B’way roots. She and James Ingram are prepping a modern, musical version of Ibsen’s “The Legend.” Allen and Ingram are also readying a Kennedy Center musical, “Brothers of the Night,” for a bow late this year. Allen, who debuted on B’way in the chorus of “Purlie,” then on to “West Side Story,” “Sweet Charity” (Tony nomination) and choreo’d four Oscars, will also choreograph the Kennedy Center “Brothers.” She has feature plans as well to follow “Amistad”; they range from another historical outing to a contemporary comedy. She says the “Amistad” experience with Spielberg has been a joy. It took her 14 years to get the film made — “Everybody said ‘No.’ ” But when Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald brought it to Spielberg, she said, “I knew that he was the one to do it. He was the humanitarian who would help make it possible.” (It’s the true story of slaves aboard the ship Amistad who were tried for and acquitted of mutiny). Allen notes this story, “like ‘Schindler’s List,’ is proof of the power of the human spirit.” Colin Wilson produces “Amistad” with Allen and Spielberg.The cast: Anthony Hopkins as John Quincy Adams, Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, Nigel Hawthorne, Pete Postlethwaite, Rusty Schwimmer, David Paymer and Djimon Hounsou. … They shot onstage at Universal and locations in Providence, Boston, Puerto Rico and San Pedro and brought it in for $39 million “with a lot of creativity,” Allen says. … Allen and husband Norm Nixon are off to N.Y. for Saturday’s wedding of “Different World” producer Susan Fales to investment banker Aaron Hall.
THE HILL WAS ALIVE with the sound of music as Calif’s. Junior Philharmonic celebrated its 60th, diamond jubilee under the baton of founder-conductor — and total funder — Dr. Ernst Katz, at an SRO Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The Wednesday night concert not only featured the 125 youngsters but also a reunion performance by 91 alumni musicians who came from as far away as China to celebrate and to present Katz with a diamond-studded baton, along with the civic honors. Thirty celebrity baton’eers of years gone by were also plaqued onstage for their support. One, Pat Boone, told me he has yet another “eyebrow raiser” in store — for an upcoming event to equal his heavy metal look (leather pants, tattoos, dog collar and bracelets) at the American Music Awards on Jan. 27. P.S.: Since those initial outcries, Boone is back in good graces with his TV outlets — and with more offers! … Other past guest conductors appearing with the Jr. Philharmonic included Tom Snyder, Terry Murphy, Ken Minyard and Avery Schreiber. Edward Asner, another alumnus, narrated “The Impossible Dream” backed by the Jr. Phil youngsters while Richard Sherman, who with brother Robert was Oscar’d for the “Mary Poppins” score, conducted the orch in a medley from the pic. Katz has always maintained the importance of show tunes as well as the classical in their repertoire. Concertmaster Gary S. Greene with Lori Gordon produced the memorable evening. Dr. Katz laughingly admitted, “I’m the last of the great dictators on the podium. No one can tell me what to play!”
IT’S BACK IN AGAIN for “In and Out.” The Par pic starring Kevin Kline, Joan Cusack, Debbie Reynolds, Tom Selleck, etc. is back for a new scene. … One of the reps for Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche allowed she would not be surprised if the duo weds during the Hawaii location of “Six Days, Seven Nights”. … Kenny Rogers and fiancee Wanda Miller will wed Sunday on their farm in Georgia. … Amy Heckerling is wearing an engagement ring from Bronson Pinchot. They haven’t set the date as yet — but he’s back from N.Y. today. … Raubi Sundher, owner of the Hollywood Wax Museum, tied the knot with fashion expert Suzanne Knapp in Ensenada last week. … Meredith MacRae joins Linda Ellerbee and Ann Richards for Women Inc.’s seminar, “Uncommon Women On Common Ground” today at the Long Beach Convention Center. … And Vanessa Brown asks “What Do You Want to Be Tomorrow” Sunday at the Carriage Inn in the Valley Margery Tabankin, former director of the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee, received an honorary doctorate in humane letters at Dickinson U. … Irma Kalish receives Syracuse U.’s Arents Pioneer Alumnus Award June 7. … Garry Marshall is honored by the Bronx’s De Witt Clinton High School Alumni Assn. of So. Cal. Saturday at the Friars. … Sony Pictures Classics’ invitation to the June 9 screening of “Dream With the Fishes” includes a post-party notice: “Nude bowling tournament to follow — clothing optional.” David Arquette (he stars in the pic) and his band will also entertain at the party. Fully clothed, we assume.