GOOD MORNING: “Mommie Dearest” is back — in book, on screen and “live” with Mommie’s little girl, Christina Crawford. Reached at her bed-and-breakfast hotel in Idaho (rooms for 12 people, dining room for 20), Crawford, living “a very happy way of life,” said she’s readying a tour with a revised (400-page) edition of her book on its 20th anni. It contains “new information which has come to me, and I have 15 pages of photos.” She publishes on her own, saying she bought back rights from Wm. Morrow in 1995. Although the original sold 500,000 hardcover copies and millions in paperbacks and foreign, she claims she only made “a small percentage of the retail price. And I’ve written four other books and not one publisher gave me a correct accounting.” As for the 1981 Par pic starring Faye Dunaway, Christina Crawford claims, “I only got my original advance and was only able to get a deal memo signed — no contract was ever completely signed after three years of legal attempts.” Did she ever see the movie? “Yes, once. That was enough. But I never dreamed it would become a cult movie.” Daily Variety‘s reviewer Jim Harwood wrote (Sept. 9, 1981) “This is Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford and the results are, well, screen history. Dunaway does not chew scenery. Dunaway starts neatly at each corner of the set in every scene and swallows it whole, stars and all. Around Paramount, in fact, the big hope now is that ‘Mommie’ will attract a cult following, the kind that savored lines like ‘Get the ax’ and ‘No wire hangers!’ ” The rest, as we know, has indeed been history. Christina appears on stage at the Castro Theater in SanFran in sellout perfs Dec. 19-20. After a Q&A with Eric Lee Preminger, the pic will be shown and the new book will be sold and autographed. Why is Crawford off on this venture? “I’ve never done anything like this before,” she admitted, “but part of the proceeds will go to Project Open Hand to help those with HIV. That’s why I decided to do it, and it is the 20th anniversary of the book.” Of course, she receives an appearance fee. She plans to do “a lot of charitable work” on future appearances around the country. Crawford happily reports she has totally recovered from the stroke she suffered in 1981. She also lost “all my money.” The return of “Mommie Dearest” may correct that. If not, she can always return to her Seven Springs Farm and bed ‘n’ breakfast.
THE HEADLINERS AT NEW YORK’S Rainbow Room Dec. 10 will be President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. They’ll be appearing for the Democratic National Committee, followed that day by two other appearances in the city for the Demos’ Senatorial and Congressional Committee, then heading south to Miami for more moolah … With two planned pix (WB and HBO) about Frank Sinatra and pals of the Rat Pack, now comes word from Peter Lawford’s widow, Patricia Lawford (Mrs. Daniel K. Stewart) that she and her husband have been readying both a docu and a feature, “The Man From Half Moon Street” about Peter … If they’re humming along the Sunset Strip these nights it’s because of “Lullaby of Broadway, the Life and Lyrics of Al Dubin” at the Tiffany, where the sweet scent of nostalgia filled the room. Corky Hale’s production, which “out-of-towned” last year at the Jazz Bakery, has grown up on its way — hopefully to you-know-where the lullaby is. The first nighters gave it a rousing send-off. Corky even brought to the opening night Dubin’s grandson Greg McGuire and Harry Warren’s granddaughter Julia Riva. Hale had been plotting the show for seven years. “But,” said Corky (the wife of Mike Stoller), “no one would take me seriously.” Stoller, partnered with Jerry Leiber, was of course proudly on hand at the opening and hoping that lightning would strike twice in the family: his (and Leiber’s) “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” which played in L.A. pre-B’way, is about to celebrate its fourth anni on B’way, and second in London. There also are a company in Reno and a national troupe, and in April the Far East tour starts in Okinawa then goes on to Tokyo, Korea, etc. Tuesday, Stoller was recording Guilherme and an all-Brazilian orch playing new and old Leiber & Stoller tunes, including “Lost in You,” which Liza Minnelli also did last year.
NEW YORK’S NITERY SCENE brightens up as the multi-million-$ China Club moves down to 268 W. 47th St., with preview parties leading up to the gala bow Dec. 10. Michael Barrett and Danny Fried’s two-story C.C. will continue its legendary Monday Nights, Wednesday Pro Jams and Sunday Nights’ Retro Swing. Members of the new swank nitery will have a private entrance … The Inaugural Pilot Pen Song Fest kicks off Jan. 30 (running to Feb. 8) with Alan Bergman as artistic director. Dozens of performers are set, including Michael Feinstein, B.B. King, LeAnn Rimes, Michel Legrand … Hal Prince workshops Alfred Uhry’s “Parade” in Toronto. Music is by 27-year-old newcomer Jason Brown discovered by Prince’s daughter Daisy. “Parade” is based on the turn-of-the century Atlanta murder-lynching case. A musical? ” ‘Sweeney Todd’ was one,” reminded Prince.