Customs wants its stories told

GOOD MORNING: All four networks will be getting a visit from the U.S. Customs Service in the coming week. Leading the group to Hollywood is Bonnie Tischler, assistant commissioner for investigations at the Customs Service, known as “the girl with the golden gun”: She carries a gold-plated revolver in her briefcase. Also in her briefcase on this trip is the first script of “Customs,” a proposed TV series that the Service would like to see made. She is accompanied by Scripps Howard Prods.’ Michele Brustin who exec produces along with Bill Nuss, who also scripted. (He did “Pacific Blue.”) Tischler, who formerly ran the Miami Bureau of Customs, is anxious to attend all the network meetings to give ’em the word that the Service wants to see its stories told — and they have as many as those chronicled in films/TV about the FBI and other agencies. Customs is responsible, f’rinstance, for more drug busts than any other organization. Their purview also includes smuggling (of everything from nuclear to pornographic materials). “It’s an opportunity,” says the Customs Service’s Bill Anthony, “to tell America what the Department does. No one knows the breadth and depth of our mission.” Meanwhile, Scripps Howard’s Brustin says their banner is readying Bill Clinton’s favorite author Michael Connelly’s “The Poet” for HBO. It’s a psychological thriller. They are negotiating with Robert Allan Ackerman to direct. … There’ll be no further pitches of the “Alan Smithee” movie to distribs for the next three weeks, after which time Disney’s Joe Roth will see the latest version by Joe Eszterhas, who is also busy with two other “labors of love” these days. The first is the expected arrival of son number three with wife Naomi. The other is the bow of his $4 million feature, “Telling Lies in America,” a semi-autobiographical story he wrote 17 years ago and which wife Naomi rediscovered, encouraged him to re-write. He did and she exec produced, with Banner Ent. distributing. Eszterhas paid Max Schell out of his own pocket in order to get him to join the already-budgeted costars Kevin Bacon and Brad Renfro in the Guy Ferland-directed movie. It will play fests at Toronto, Boston and N.Y. “I’m proud of it,” says Joe E., whose next labor — for money — is Par’s “Land of the Free.”

THE FAMILY THAT PLAYS together, stays together: Jane Seymour and husband James Keach, co-starring as husband and wife, wind “Swiss Family Robinson” in time for the Sept. 8 start of “Medicine Woman.” They are shooting the modern version of the classic in Puerto Rico, where exotic animals like a panther, chimpanzee and 20-foot anaconda have been imported. Live will distrib for Total Film Group’s Gerald Green. Seymour says this version, directed and written by Stewart Raffill, is “just like the real (original) story, complete with treehouse.” David Carradine plays the heavy. … Richard Roundtree, back from playing the heavy in “Steel” with Shaquille O’Neal and toiling in the jungle of “George of the Jungle,” is now deep in New York’s jungle for Fox’s new series “413 Hope St.,” for Damon Wayans’ banner. Wayans “is involved every day — totally hands-on. And we pull no punches,” says Roundtree. Spousal abuse and teen pregnancy are two of the subjects already filmed in the setting of a teen crisis center. It treats all colors and genders, assures Roundtree. The series bows Sept. 11. … Talking of (the terrific!) “George of the Jungle”: playing on the same bill is the 1995 Oscar-nominated Mickey Mouse short, “Runaway Brain,” one of the many cartoon creations made in Disney’s Paris paintshop, where parts of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” were also created. Hefty word of mouth is already making the rounds on the next full-length Disney feature, “Mulan,” the Chinese legend voiced by Ming-Na Wen (“The Single Guy”) and Eddie Murphy as the (friendly) dragon.

MAIS OUI, BUT OF COURSE: Jacqueline Bisset — and who better (or prettier) — will be president of the Montreal Film Fest, Aug. 21-Sept. 2. She’ll next be seen in WB’s “The Courtesan”. … Aidan Quinn will co-star with Annette Bening in “In Dreams” (formerly “Blue Vision”) for DreamWorks with Neil Jordan directing. They’ll film in Mass., which means Warren Beatty will commute to visit Bening and their three youngters. … “Entertainment Tonight” again hosts a post-Emmy bash at Pasadena’s Twin Palms, Sept. 14. Moet & Chandon pours. … Ricardo Montalban is honored by the Pacific Pioneer B’casters Sept. 26 at the Sportsmen’s Lodge. Although bravely fighting for his walking ability, Montalban continues to do voiceovers with his unmistakable voice, strong as ever. And as part of Montalban’s settlement with Columbia TV, Sony is developing a vidpic for him. … Stanley Meyer is recuping at St. John’s Hospital after suffering a fall at his home. … John and Donald Mills join Kay Starr for a two-week stand at the Cinegrill, opening Aug. 19. The Mills’ “Still” CD marks Donald M.’s eighth decade of recording. … Annabelle Stevens is Rogers & Cowan’s new director of the literary unit of their motion picture division.

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