GOOD MORNING: With the murder of Gianni Versace just a week old, multiple plans are being fashioned for films and docus, and now comes word that “A Gucci Knockoff” is upcoming on HBO. It includes the bizarre murder of Maurizio Gucci on March 27, 1995, as well as stories of that designing family’s fortunes and foibles. Alliance Communications Corp. is producing “Gucci Knockoff,” with Francine LeFrak exec producing a script by Tony Grisoni, who wrote “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” starring Johnny Depp. … Versace’s last interview, by Andrea Lee, in the July 28 New Yorker, tells of his rare cancer of the inner ear in 1996 which, although successfully cured by chemotherapy and surgery, had occasioned the spread of rumors such as AIDS and that he’d secretly had his blood drained and replaced. … On the happier side of the news is word that Dick Crenna is getting his voice back after a second surgery performed 2 weeks ago. He sounded (almost) like his old self on the phone. While he had to turn down several jobs during this trying period, he is now AOK and starts work again in September. In October, he begins another of his “Janek” CBS vidpics. During his recovery, the multi-credited Crenna admits, “It was very frustrating, when you’ve spent your entire life getting in the last word!” But he now assures, “I’ll never quit!” … And no sooner was Bob Stack’s nine year reign on “Unsolved Mysteries” over (while winning the ratings race!) than he was signed to guestar this week in pal Dick Van Dyke’s “Diagnos. … Carroll O’Connor, now spending his days in court (can you believe this!), is also putting finishing touches on his new play, “A Certain Labor Day.” He’ll co-star with George C. Scott in the world preem Sept. 11 at the Arts District Theater in Dallas. O’Connor is no doubt also putting added touches to his autobio for Pocket Books, which has a pub date of March 1998. O’Connor celebrates his 73rd birthday, Aug. 2.
“THE CUHNEL AND ME” is being readied as a WB feature. It’s the story of Colonel Tom Parker, Jerry Weintraub (who was Elvis Presley’s then-concert manager and promoter with Parker) and Joe Esposito, who was Elvis’ longtime friend and associate producer. They tell me Parker’s widow Luane has given her OK. Meanwhile she and Bruce Banke, longtime pal of Parker’s and for 25 years publicity director of the Vegas Hilton, are writing the bio of the Cuhnel. Who would play Parker? He once told me he’d like John Goodman to portray him. And who would play Weintraub? Jerry would like to, of course — but, he’s busy producing “The Avengers’ in England with Uma Thurman, Ralph Fiennes and Sean Connery.(The $5 million set which burned down at Pinewood is being rebuilt.) And in Sept., Weintraub starts “Soldier” with Kurt Russell, also at WB. … Not only did Arthur Hiller remove his director credit from the “Alan Smithee” film, but he also rejected a “Thank you, Arthur Hiller” end title toast. … It’s magic time for Gary Pudney: he’s got a fourth year on NBC with “The World’s Greatest Magic,” to tape Aug. 9 at Caesars; a second year on ABC with “Champions of Magic” to tape Sept. 20-30 in Monaco; and a third NBC year with “Lance Burton — Master Magician” to tape Dec. at the Monte Carlo hotel in Las Vegas. … Nancy Reagan got some r&r at the Givenchy Hotel and Spa in Palm Springs. Nancy, accompanied by friend Carole Petrie, reminisced about Washington days with Givenchy owner Rose Narva, formerly of the Jefferson Hotel. The many Reagan cabinet members who stayed there used to call the Jefferson, “the White House North.”
HARRISON FORD, WHO HOSTED the “Air Force One” domestic press junket in Hawaii where he was shooting “Six Days and Seven Nights” with Anne Heche, got two days and three nights off that pic to parley with foreign junketeers here and to attend Monday night’s preem at the Plitt in Century City. The “AF1” night raised $250,000-plus for biological research for CAN (Cure Autism Now), founded by Jon Shestak. His Beacon Communications Corp. and Columbia produced the $86 million Ford starrer. Along Came Mary cooked up the appropriate red, white and blue-blooded All-American menu with bunting and red carpet to boot. … President George Bush received the Spirit of Life award from the City of Hope Monday night at the BevHilton, winding the City’s three-day 84th anni with the Roll Call of the nation’s reps reported raising $65,836,074.38! Norm Crosby m.c.’d all three nights as the City of Hope’s National Goodwill Ambassador. … Ethnic humor dept.: “Latino Comedy Night” July 30 at the Laugh Factory will choose the Latino Comedian of the Year. Paul Rodriguez hosts. Rodriguez was also one of the comedians who helped the second Kinda Kosher Comedy Night at the Laugh Factory raise $20,000 for the United Jewish Fund. Others who performed: Norm McDonald, Jon Stewart, Rita Rudner, Howie Mandel, Dom Irrera, Chris Spencer, Mike Binder and Bob Marley, who emceed.