Leno keeps chin up on competish

GOOD MORNING: Jay Leno wants to expand his already-ample chin. No, it’s not by plastic surgery: A Leno life mask (Jay sat for his likeness), which is now in the Hollywood Wax Museum, will be used to increase Leno’s profile to play “CHINocchio” in one of the increasing number of special-f/x skits on “The Tonight Show.” Jay, acknowledging the increasing demand for guestars on the talkshow circuit, told me, ” I want to put as much comedy in our show as possible. And we do two sketches a day!” He’s more than happy creating different looks on his show. He plans to be around for a long time. Leno claims he doesn’t know when his contract really ends — “in 2001, I think.” Nor is he concerned about his salary. “I don’t have to be the highest paid in the bizness. They (NBC) say, ‘Here’s how much the job pays,’ and the contract negotiation takes 10 minutes (last one, a half-hour). If I need more money I go out and play a date.” He just did Reno and Las Vegas on a weekend off “Tonight”. … The fact Rosie O’Donnell will do her shows from here for a month is further evidence of talkshows’ needs for productive locales of guestars. Noting Rosie’s long L.A. visit, Regis Philbin, who usually spends a week taping here with Kathie Lee, is instead going to Hawaii for fresh faces and settings. … And creative castings continue on sitcoms: the “Nanny” set Ray Charles as the fiancee of Annie Guilbert, who plays Renee Taylor’s mother and Fran Drescher’s grandmother on the series. It’s a non-musical role for Charles and all agree he’s a fine actor (he’s skedded to recur). First, Ray heads to Tampa to be inducted into the Intl. Jazz Hall of Fame, Nov. 20-21. Michael Bolton will make the presentation to him. Steve Allen emcees.

LL COOL J COULD NOT have been cooler when he surprised students at Marshall High at their auditorium Wednesday ayem. While he spoke of his own childhood’s tough beginnings — including watching his father shoot his mother — J told the students he was there to tell ’em the importance of literacy and the need to read newspapers every day. He was there under the auspices of the Newspaper Assn. of America; he also has filmed p.s.a.’s. for the NAA’s national campaign, joining this group in the endeavor: Presidents Jimmy Carter and George Bush, former First Lady Barbara Bush, General (ret.) Norman Schwarzkopf, MTV’s Tabitha Soren and Denver Bronco QB John Elway. Cool J also warned the kids to keep away from drugs. … The Kids Cafe in Venice opens Nov. 18, launched by the Children’s Action Network, which is co-founded by Henry Winkler and Kate Capshaw and the L.A. Regional Foodbank. Winkler and Capshaw will be serving early Thanksgiving dinner to hungry children. The Kids Cafe will be a safe haven for children to also “hang out” after school rather than on the streets. There are close to 500,000 (!) hungry children in the greater L.A. area. Helping Winkler and Capshaw serve dinners will be Rhea Perlman, Kim Delaney, Paula Poundstone, Wil Wheaton, Brandon Hammons, Allison Anders and others. Rockenwagner, 72 Market Street and San Gennaro Cafe are among eateries providing the food. … Poundstone made her acting bow on Monday’s “Cybill” and the seg went over so well that she returns for a second seg next week. She’ll star in her own sitcom pilot on the Fox net for Fall ’98. … Tony Dow, best known as Wally Cleaver in the “Leave it to Beaver” and the “New Beaver” series — dating back to 1957(!) — is now making a successful directing career. He’s set to rein several segs of Buena Vista TV’s syndie’d Disney’s “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids: The TV Show.” He’ll also direct segs of TNT’s “Babylon 5.” Dow’s also a specialist in visual effects.

CATCHING CLARINETIST Woody Allen and his band at the Carlyle: Joe DiMaggio with Jean Doumanian, who produces Allen’s pix. She’s now started filming “Story of a Bad Boy,” written/directed by Tom Donaghy. The lead is newcomer Jeremy Hollingworth. … This weekend’s CableAce Awards will have more than 2,600 attending the black-tie’d events, with a record number of media covering this year. Friday’s non-televised event is hosted by Craig Kilborn of Comedy Central. Saturday’s awards (to air on TNT) are hosted by David Hyde Pierce and Sela Ward, with impressive presenters. Tony Eaton exec produces the shows. … Brother act: Michael Sutton, who scored as Stone Cates in “General Hospital,” segues to the bigscreen in Ken Schwenker’s “American Intellectuals.” And Robby Sutton wrapped duties as first-time associate producer and co-star in Duane Lavold’s first feature, “Limp”. … Tonight, Kristen Johnston, Emmy-winner from “3rd Rock From The Sun,” hosts “The GRRLGenius Club” — five standup comediennes — at the Improv to benefit Caring For Babies With AIDS. … Paul McCartney’s symphonic composition, “Standing Stone,” originating live from Carnegie Hall, plus a live interview with McCartney airs Nov. 19 on National Public Radio, hosted by Martin Goldsmith of NPR’s “Performance Today,” celebrating its 10th anni.

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