GOOD MORNING: While Michael Douglas visited his father Kirk Douglas this week to “evaluate a few story possibilities,” it is Eric who is first teaming up with his dad. Douglas, pere, has made marvelous progress since last we spoke — and considerably improved since you heard/saw him on the Academy Awards and Barbara Walters’ show. However, when Kirk was asked to do two vocal assignments, he deferred — to son Eric. In the first, the youngest Douglas will tape audio portions of two p.s.a.’s for the Boys Republic in which Eric says, “My dad is proud to be this year’s Della Robbia Wreath Campaign chair for Boys Republic.” Eric D.’s second audio assignment is the voiceover/book on tape for Simon & Schuster of Kirk’s novel, “The Broken Mirror.” It is Kirk’s first children’s book and he tells me he has a contract for a second, on which he is now working. Kirk describes how he came to write a children’s book in his ongoing autobio “Climbing the Mountain: My Search for Meaning” (S&S). He says, the children’s book “is based on the friendship of two boys whom I had introduced in my first novel, ‘Dance With the Devil.’ I read it over and said to myself, ‘Hey Kirk, this is good.’ Since it had a Holocaust theme, I sent it to the expert, Steven Spielberg, for his evaluation. He responded: ‘It is absorbing and touching, and a book to be read and enjoyed by youngsters and their parents alike. It’s a story which gets your attention and has so much to say in such a concise form that it should not be limited to Jewish readers. Kirk, you’ve done a great job.’ I think it’s safe to say,” said Kirk, “my penpal (Spielberg) liked it so I decided to donate all the proceeds to his Visual History of the Shoah Foundation.”
I COULD HAVE DANCED ALL NIGHT (with apologies to “My Fair Lady” and Lerner & Loewe) at Tuesday night’s special screening of “Shall We Dance?” which had the movie audience dancing out onto Wilshire Blvd. and continuing later at Miramax’s Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s post-screening party at the BevWilshire, where professionals, dancing to the Arthur Handlin combo, enticed previewgoers to team with them on the dance floor. The enticed dancers included Lisa Pelikan (husband Bruce was night shooting, as a heavy, on DreamWorks’ children’s film, “Paulie: A Parrot’s Tale”), as well as my wife Selma and me. The warmth of the movie carried long into the night, as director Masayuki Suo was receiving congrats from his Hollywood audience — as he has been getting at openings around the country. The pic grossed $88,106 in five screens in three days, at an average of $17,621 a screen. Last year, it swept the Japanese equivalent of the Academy Awards, with 13 wins, and Miramax is hoping to make its mark at the Oscars next year. Director Suo said his pic cost $4.5 million. No, there are no plans to do a sequel. No, he hasn’t received any U.S. pic offers. No, he does not even have a Hollywood agent, he said (via an interpreter — although he understands and speaks some English, I discovered!) The charming director married his beautiful, Mona Lisa-ish leading lady Tamiyo Kusakari at the movie’s wrap. She was not here with him, but is in Japan — dancing. Hopefully the two will team again for another movie. … Meanwhile, “Shut Up and Dance,” Columbia/Mandalay’s mammoth dance-themed movie starring Vanessa Williams, Chayanne, Kris Kristofferson and Joan Plowright, just completed its “international (U.S., Russia, Canada, Italy and Japan) dance championships,” which were filmed on a hangar at Van Nuys airport, doubling for a Las Vegas Monte Carlo Resort & Casino Ballroom. I was impressed at an earlier visit to the set at the Hacienda Real Dance Club in downtown L.A. This romantic dance movie directed by salsa dancer (no kidding!) Randa Haines, has a Valentine’s Day ’98 opening date. The company recently had a scare when co-star Chayanne suffered a severe cut over an eye when playing basketball; he required over 30 stitches and was out two days but is now OK and looks good as new, I am assured.
UTA HAGEN, CELEBRATING her diamond jubilee in the theater, arrives in L.A. for “An Evening With –” at the Paramount Studio Theater July 20. Hagen, who hasn’t been here since 1982, still believes she’s on a “greylist” in movies — but not in the theater, where she received raves for her most recent role, “Mrs. Klein.” She admits, “I could write a book, but I won’t.” She still conducts master classes in acting, six hours a day. “They are very strenuous; I don’t know why I do it,” she laughed. … The all-comics benefit for Sally Marr (90, Lenny Bruce’s mother) at the Improv raised $25,000 to help defray her medical expenses. Among those who performed: Fritz Coleman, Norm Crosby, David Steinberg, Kevin Pollak, Mort Sahl, Jay Leno, Bill Maher, Shelley Berman, Richard Lewis, Victoria Jackson, Paul Rodriguez, Dom Irerra. Plus Bette Midler and Don Adams in the audience. … Jack Carter winged to Switzerland to star in the dramatic feature “Borderline” for D.V. Prods.