DEA huffs and puffs at ‘Murphy’ seg

GOOD MORNING: Drug Enforcement Administrator Thomas Constantine can take another drag on the marijuana-themed “Waiting to Inhale” seg of “Murphy Brown,” which aired Nov. 5 in the series’ usual Wednesday 8:30 p.m. CBS slot. It’s now being plotted for an unusual Monday night replay Nov. 24. Among other things, the DEA’s Constantine had said the seg “trivialized drug abuse.” Not only did “Murphy” (Candice Bergen) light up, but “Jim” (co-star Charles Kimbrough) also puffed — as well as bought the stuff on the street for her. Series exec producer Marc Flanagan told me the seg “humanized the suffering of a cancer patient, not the legality of marijuana.” He knows the pain and suffering of a cancer patient: an aunt and niece, 20 years apart in age, were cancer victims within a year of each other. A new “Murphy Brown” seg will follow this repeat show in the regular Wednesday slot Nov. 26. Olivia Newton-John guestars in that one. She came in to film it between benefits for cancer charities. She is a five-year breast cancer survivor, having undergone a partial mastectomy in 1992, two weeks after her father had died from cancer. She plays herself in the series. When she says to Murphy, “I heard about your breast cancer, I hope you’re doing OK,” Murphy answers, “I’m hanging in there,” noting, “No one knows better than you — you beat it one day at a time.” The studio audience cheered Olivia. Other ramifications to be faced by recovering women cancer patients are made evident when “Murphy’s” network contract is renewed only one year, instead of the usual three. “Where’s the note of confidence?” asks the hopefully recovering “Murphy” of the network boss played by Garry Marshall.

ART IMITATING LIFE AND — : Watching Sunday’s excellent ABC telepic “Into Thin Air: Death on Everest” reminded many of Frank Wells, the Disney president and COO who died April 3, 1994, in a helicopter crash in the rugged mountains in northeast Nevada after skiing with friends, including Clint Eastwood. Wells had earlier survived a climbing expedition on Everest. It was to be the last of the mountains he would conquer on each of the seven continents. He had sent me a copy of a letter he’d written when suffering from frostbite and unable to continue the finale of the Mount Everest climb. The scene he described was as dramatic as anything ever put in any of his studio’s movies. He almost lost his nose in that adventure. Sunday’s Bernie Sofronski production for Columbia TriStar TV made us realize what Wells had also attempted to do. … Down to earth: The wedding of Rosemary Clooney (69) and Dante DiPaolo (71) Friday at St. Patrick’s Church in Maysville, Ky., was attended by more than 600 relatives and friends. They followed (by car, limo and bus convoy) to the reception 20 miles away in Augusta at the Clooney family home, where White Castle burgers and BBQ ribs were served. Rosie next heads out on her “Mothers and Daughters/Rosemary Clooney White Christmas” concertour. … Joni James surprised even closest friends revealing she and Gen. Bernard A. Schriever (Ret.) were married Oct. 5 in Arlington,Va. and headed off to honeymoon in France and the Greek Isles. … “Cat’s Meow” playwright Steven Peros and entertainment attorney Maureen Baker were married Saturday at Hollywood’s Church of the Blessed Sacrament. … Tom Sturges, GM of Twism Records (owned by Shaquille O’Neal), and wife-songwriter-record producer Antonina welcomed their second son Monday at Cedars-Sinai.

IT WAS AN EMOTIONAL EVENING as Alfre Woodard femcee’d and Denzel Washington made the presentation to Barbara Lazaroff and Wolfgang Puck, Saturday at the Fulfillment Fund’s Stars of Tomorrow award dinner at the Regent BevWilshire. Following amazing performances by musical youngsters, the audience learned from alumni of the fund how much their programs meant: Arts Impact, Drug Education, College Counseling, College Pathways, Mentoring and Sponsoring, Internship and College Scholarship. UCLA’s Gary Gitnick, who chairs the Fulfillment Fund board, led/closed the impressive evening after emotional thank-yous by the Pucks, whose many contributions to the community were enumerated. Ten of their chefs also prepared their chef d’oeuvres as the innovative dinner for the event. Wolfgang admitted, “I know I made the right choice to come to America when I saw these talented young people here tonight.” The Pucks opened yet another eatery in Phoenix Monday and will bow another in Vegas. The Fulfillment Fund will also benefit from a “Titanic” preem Dec. 14. … Stan Winston receives a tribute tonight from “Stunts Ability” at Planet Hollywood in South Coast Plaza. It’s a non-profit org that trains and places amputees and other disabled individuals into the worlds of stunts, acting and f/x. Winston has long supported the group The Thalians’ 42nd annual ball honoring Carol Channing as their 1997 “Ms. Wonderful,” raised over $600,000 for the Thalians Mental Health Clinic at Cedars-Sinai.

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