Eye solves ‘Mysteries’

GOOD MORNING: The mysterious whereabouts of NBC’s “Unsolved Mysteries” has been solved –by CBS. Les Moonves confirms his net has just picked up the Robert Stack starrer, which was a nine-year ratings-winner for the Peacock web. The ink on the CBS deal for “Mysteries” is not yet dry, laughed Moonves. “But, the (initial) order is for six episodes –it may be for hour-long shows, and it may be for the season. Either way, it will work. It’s a versatile show and can play in any time slot: 8, 9, 10 p.m. Any day –or the weekend.” Moonves admits, “I was surprised it was not on the NBC fall schedule –and not even picked up for backup!” Stack was equally surprised when NBC announced its demise the same week it again won its slot! The John Cosgrove-Terry Meurer “Mysteries” premiered as one-hour specials in January 1987, became a series in October 1988. Since its first airing, 150 fugitives have been captured thanks to the series; the most recent was April 25, when accused child molester and killer Trent Stephen Foute of Santa Ana was captured by Albuquerque police within minutes of being a subject of an “Unsolved Mysteries” seg. … Stack was ignorant of the CBS pickup until I told him Wednesday, as he was readying to tee off in the Jack Nicklaus tourney at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. “Boy, am I gonna knock myself out for them (CBS). I feel so loyal to the show and its audience; thousands have written and called, outraged (with NBC). I’ve always known our first obligation is to our audience.” (“Unsolved Mysteries” will also be starting its 10th year in syndication on Lifetime.) Stack also just completed a highly dramatic guestar stint in CBS’ long-running Dick Van Dyke series, “Diagnosis Murder.”

PURE MAGIC! EARVIN “MAGIC” JOHNSON and his Entertainment banner were welcomed to Fox Family Films, 20th Century Fox TV and 20th TV with an SRO party at the Mondrian Hotel Tuesday p.m. The ever-smiling Johnson affably greeted and schmoozed with all his friends, old and new, and new showbiz partners. No one doubts his giant personality will beam through on his Fox net late-night talkshow, skedded to air after Jan. 1. He told me he taped two terrif test shows (one-hour) with guests including Mel Gibson, Cher (who sang to him), Danny DeVito, Babyface, Laurence Fishburne, Salma Hayek. He’ll have no trouble attracting top guests, from movie stars who courtsided his basketball games, to sportstar pals, plus thesps whose movies he shows at his theater. Proof of Fox’s affection for the new affiliation with Johnson’s banner(s) was the party attendance by the studio’s top execs: Peter Chernin, Bill Mechanic, Tom Sherak, Sandy Grushow, Chris Meledandri and Rick Jacobson along with Johnson’s own division heads. … While the first movie Magic produces, “Home Boy,” will be for Fox Family Films, he plans to deliver product to 20th Films as well. What kind of movies? “Like ‘Men In Black,’ ” he laughed, “or ‘Nutty Professor.’ ” Tamara Gregory, senior VP of his feature wing, said they are developing “sophisticated as well as comedy and action stories.” One comedy, “Man Servant,” is about J. Edgar Hoover’s house servants who are put on the FBI payroll. “I really want to do quality pictures –and big ones,” he smiled. Johnson reminds he can distribute his movies via his own theaters; he’s not worried about divorcement decrees. He hopes to own 200 screens in 14 months. With screens now in L.A., he said he’ll follow with theaters “for minorities” in Harlem, Detroit, Chicago. Further, he’ll be able to talk up his movie releases on his own talkshows, he laughed. He hopes to be on the air preceding Keenen Ivory Wayans’ timeslot on Fox. Latter bows Monday. Also debuting Monday, on UPN, is Quincy Jones’ “Vibe” starring 29-year-old standup host Chris Spencer. “Vibe” is on 202 stations and 98% of the country. Jones told me he also plans to develop his “Q’s Jook Joint” CD into a telefilm for HBO. And says he sees the possibility of many more CD’s seguing into dramatic vidpics. … Jayne Meadows and Steve Allen celebrate their 43rd wedding anni today with their 12 grandchildren.

DALLAS BOWED OUT OF FINANCING Carroll O’Connor’s play, “A Certain Labor Day,” so he’s putting up the $300,000 himself and will take it instead to San Francisco’s Theater in the Square, opening Sept. 17. George C. Scott co-stars, Beth Milles directs. … Audiences will finally meet the offscreen wives of Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison in “Odd Couple II –Travelin’ Light.” Ellen Geer plays the ex of Felix (Jack Lemmon) and Doris Belack plays the former wife of Oscar (Walter Matthau). Geer played Matthau’s wife in “Kotch,” which was directed by Lemmon and won an Oscar nomination for Matthau. Lisa Waltz plays Lemmon’s daughter. She is also a Neil Simon alumna, from “Biloxi Blues” and “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” Jonathan Silverman, who plays Matthau’s son in “II,” is also an alum of “Biloxi Blues,” “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Broadway Bound.” It’s one, big, not-so-simple Simon family.

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