GOOD MORNING: As Jay Leno celebrates his fifth year as host of NBC’s “Tonight Show,” he recalls he guesthosted for $500 — “Just give me scale,” he told NBC. His current pact goes through 2001 and he sez he has no intention of renegotiating “or asking for time off. I’ll continue to do five shows a week. And I’ll try to get out more (location shooting) in the future.” Meanwhile, Leno admits putting in 16-18 hours a day on the nightly shows and heading out on weekend dates. “I like to be a comedian on weekends.” F’rinstance, this weekend, he has a Chicago date Saturday at 11 ayem, then two shows (7 and 10 p.m.) at the Foxwood Casino in Connecticut. Sundays, he plays the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach regularly to hone his skills. “My price isn’t in the way — I like to work!” He’ll be toasted Thursday by NBC’s top primetimer, Jerry Seinfeld, and multi music award-winner Garth Brooks guesting on the anniversary show — plus some surprise star walkons. Leno maintains he doesn’t have any “don’t invitem” list of guests. “It’s obvious they are people you like — also those on their way up — or down. Remember, being on TV is somewhat of a reward.” Meanwhile, ABC’s Barbara Walters on her “Six to Watch” show tonight, says of Drew Barrymore (one of ’em). “I want to adopt her! She’s adorable.” Drew’s been called a lot of things in the past — I don’t recall “adorable” being one of ’em.
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER is back in charge of his Really Useful Group and among the projects he’ll be in charge of is the musical “A Star Is Born” from Larry Gelbart’s book. Gelbart, by the way, is not happy that WB is planning a feature titled “City of Angels” — to star Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan and not based on Gelbart’s B’way’er of that same title. “I’ve asked them nicely — so far — to change it,” sez Larry Orion has just won a “high seven-figure” out-of-court settlement against CBS and Chuck Norris for copyright infringement by the series “Walker, Texas Ranger” — of Orion’s feature (1983) “Lone Wolf McQuade”. … Lynn Redgrave will co-star with Sir Ian McKellen in Regent Films’ “Father of Frankenstein.” It’s about James Whale, director of “Frankenstein” pix who committed suicide. Bill Condon directs this “Frankenstein.” Redgrave plays Whale’s Hungarian housekeeper. Agent Frank Cooper today celebrates his 85th birthday, his 67th year in the biz — and his 60th wedding anni. Tuesday, Cooper was at NBC completing the deal for Clifford Irving’s book, “The Spring” (Simon & Schuster) to be telefilmed. … Steven Spielberg wasn’t on hand to hear the screams as all 18 screens of the Cineplex Odeon Universal City unspooled his “The Lost World” Monday. In the theater where we sat, kids repeatedly broke out alternately in applause and shouts of glee (fear?) as the master moviemaker and his team’s work unfolded. And now the question of course is, will there be a third? I asked Jeff Goldblum if he’d signed on — not to his knowledge. He thought the final scene of this one indicated the grand finale. Sure. Stay tuned for box office returns to make that decision. Goldblum, now in N.Y., says he’ll make a world tour for “Lost World.” “It’s a sweet little gift,” he said, when asked if there were any bonuses — as there were following the first pic. Co-stars Julianne Moore, Peter Postlethwaite and Arliss Howard also were on hand. Also there were exec producer Kathleen Kennedy, screenwriter David Koepp, special effects producers Stan Winston, Dennis Muren and Michael Lantieri. Edgar Bronfman Jr. Frank Biondi, Ron Meyer, Lew Wasserman and Howard Weitzman led the corps of Universal exex on hand.
FIRST LADY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON and Sen. Barbara Boxer made a surprise “drop in” at the ASCAP Pop Music Awards Monday at the BevHilton. The duo had been at Frank Biondi’s home Sunday for a White House Endowment fundraiser where ASCAP president Marilyn Bergman, who knew they’d be at the Hilton, asked if they would stop by. Secrecy ensued and during the award presentations, Bergman interrupted to bring on the First Lady and the senator. Clinton said, “I heard one of the groups you’re honoring is the Presidents of the United States, so I couldn’t stay away from that!” She and Boxer got a prolonged standing ovation and promised continued support for music and NEA. … The American Jazz Philharmonic’s annual Henry Mancini birthday party this year honored Johnny Mercer. Once again Sandra Krause and Bill Fitzgerald hosted at their palatial home, Jack Elliott, Music director of the American Jazz Philharmonic told of plans for the July 27 start of the Henry Mancini Institute at Cal State Long beach with 90 visiting performing artists-conductors-composers in the four week program. Performers at the Mercer tribute included m.c./arranger Ray Charles, pianist Stan Freeman, Ruth Price, Hal Linden, Anne Kery Ford, Pat Gelbart and Tony Martin. Guests also chimed in on a half-dozen Mercer evergreens — closing appropriately with all singing the Mancini-tuned “Moon River.”