GOOD MORNING: Angela Lansbury reteams with Robert Halmi (“Mrs. Santa Claus”) in a version of Frank Capra’s “Lady for a Day” based on Damon Runyon’s “Apple Annie.” In the original 1933 feature May Robson starred with Warren Williams. In the contemporary TVersion, Lansbury will be joined by Kelsey Grammer as the Mafioso with the heart of gold. (Grammer was also in Halmi’s TVersion of Neil Simon’s “London Suite”). Simon will also rejoin Halmi as one of the 12 dramatists in one of the producer’s two ABC “Millennium Projects.” Others contributing yarns to one-hour dramatic and half-hour comedic segs include: Arthur Miller, David Mamet, August Wilson, Larry Gelbart, John Guare, Terence McNally, Wendy Wasserstein, Elaine May and Steve Martin. (David Picker was instrumental in this project). The Halmi programs also include “Stanley & Livingston,” “Moby Dick,” “Mother Teresa,” “Animal Farm,” “Crime & Punishment,” “Cleopatra” and hopefully Larry McMurtry’s “Comanche Moon.” And of course, his NBC two-parter, “The Odyssey” starring Armand Assante and airing Sunday and Monday. Homer’s yarn is Halmi’s biggest promotion to date with 100,000 copies of the book sent to schools; a press package of 1,600 includes the book plus tapes of the making of the TV epic. “It’s a good thing I don’t have to pay him (Homer) royalties!” said Halmi. The producer was so involved in this production he took up his first love, the camera, as one of five lensers in director Andrei Konchalovsky’s bigger “Odyssey” scenes. The director’s next big project, the 850 th birthday of Moscow event, live, from Red Square. “Odyssey” got its West Coast sendoff with an overflow crowd at the BevHills Museum of TV and Radio screening and lavish party by Bernard Erpicum’s Eclipse. A bash followed in N.Y. plus a book signing by the cast’s stars Wednesday at 57th and B’way’s — Coliseum Books.
IT WAS MOTHER’S DAY — AND HOW — as Billy Bob Thornton dined Laura Dern, her mom Diane Ladd and Ladd’s mom and Laura’s grandmother Mary Garey at the Pinot Bistro in Studio City. Thornton costars in Mike Nichols’ “Primary Colors” with Ladd playing the President’s (John Travolta’s) mother. Ladd is readying to star in her own Washington opus, “Right On, Martha” (Mitchell) with Marlon Brando as John Mitchell, daughter Laura Dern playing a young Martha and Billy Bob Thornton and Bruce Dern in cameos with Martin Scorsese producing. Scott Alsop co-wrote with Ladd. Laura D. will star for mama in “Hot Water Biscuit” which Ladd will direct and co-wrote with Jack Sibley. The family that plays together — Agent Ronda Gomez and director Howard Zieff surprised their Mothers’ Day brunch guests as they arrived at their house — by getting married in a ceremony performed by rabbi Bob Elias! Incidentally, Gomez and Zieff are also celebrating 23 years of togetherness. … Ellen Meyer and Rabbi David Baron of Temple Shalom are planning a September wedding. … Who better than Richard Thomas to be a panel member at the TV Acad Thursday on the subject of “The Impact of Family TV Through the Decades.” (WB’s Jamie Kellner and Brad Turell produce the symposium). Thomas, an alum of “The Waltons,” just returned from six months in new Zealand starring in “The Swiss Family Robinson,” and next stars in CBS’ “1,000 Men and a Baby”. … Roger Moore stars in a South Africa-set series, “Shaka Zulu: The Citadel,” co-starring Jack Palance. It’s a UPN-RAI-TV co-production that Joshua Sinclair wrote-directs. … It’s supposed to be ratings uber alles — so howcum the nine-year ratings winner “Unsolved Mysteries,” which also won its timeslot last Friday, was axed by NBC? … Richard Crenna, recuping post- thyroid surgery and speaking better, is now assisting his son Richard a cameraman, recuping from shoulder and knee surgery!
THE NEIL SIMON TRIBUTE at the Century Plaza raised $325,000 for the Center Theater Group’s Outreach program. Garry Marshall, who m.c’.d, said he was getting tired of Neil Simon tributes. While Gordon Davidson warmly intro’d Simon, the multi-honored writer agreed he was over-honored and hoped this tribute would be his last. “My wife has been to so many of these,” he said, “she’s sitting at the table listening to her Walkman”. … In a unique fundraiser via the Internet and live auction at the House of Blues, “The Junk of the Stars” raised $ 15,000 for the ERAS Center. … Fred de Cordova, whose credits range from B’way to Burbank, gets the Pacific Pioneer B’casters’ honors May 15 at the Sportsmen’s Lodge. The dais includes Ed McMahon, Bob Stack, Suzanne Pleshette, Don Rickles, Beverly Garland, Angie Dickinson, Irving Fein and George Schlatter. But none can top Fred’s stories — about ’em. This should be taped! … Alice Backes makes her 300th “Colombo” appearance in Peter Falk’s two-hour telefilm airing Thursday, on the show’s 25th anni.