Peck again ‘Moby’-lized

Just for Variety

It’s back to “Moby Dick” for Gregory Peck — but this time he’ll play Father Mapple, the role originally played by Orson Welles in the 1956 feature directed by John Huston.

In that one, Peck was Captain Ahab, now to be played by Patrick Stewart.

“He’s a fine actor,” said Peck, “and I’m excited to be a part of it. Robert Halmi does quality things. I’m excited to be a part of the Halmi (USA Network) production.

“The script (by Benedick Fitzgerald) is marvelous,” added Peck, “a better script than we had (on the feature, written by Ray Bradbury and Huston). And in four hours the story can better be told. (the feature ran 116 min.). We had an abbreviation (of the Melville story).” Franc Roddam directs. Peck laughingly said this job “makes a nice continuity — fitting in with my cameo career.” He had ditto’d in the “Cape Fear” remake, having starred in the original as he had in “Moby Dick.” Although the TV role is small, “It is significant — and full of fire and brim-stone.” It will be filmed in Melbourne … The Pecks are in N.Y. where they were seated with Hillary Clinton at longtime (since ’65) friend Isaac Stern’s table as the violinist was honored at Carnegie Hall. Stern had serenaded Peck with “Danny Boy” when Peck received his Kennedy Center nod. Peck will next be honored at the Marty Richards’ Red Ball. Feb. 12 benefiting child abuse and mental health charities. Peck and Richards go back to “The Will Rogers Follies” on stage and “The Boys From Brazil” on screen … Robert Halmi, here briefly en route to Af-rica for the Nigel Hawthorne-Aidan Quinn co-starrer, “Stanley & Livingston,” now has a March 23 air date for his two-hour, Ben Cross-Richard Crenna “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” — meanwhile, Fred Pierce does not, as yet, have an air date for his four-hour “Sea” to sail on ABC starring Michael Caine and Patrick Dempsey.

THE OSCAR AWARDED IN 1970 to Gig Young for supporting actor in “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” re-mains in the uncontested possession of his longtime agent, Martin Baum. Wednesday, Judge Candace D. Cooper, in L.A. Superior Court, dismissed with prejudice the action filed against Baum by Jennifer Young, daughter of the late actor, reports Baum’s attorney, Mark E. Kalmansohn .Those of you who can remember, when Young, accepted his Oscar, he thanked agent Baum who later received the Oscar from Young’s late sister, to whom it passed when Gig died. Baum said the Academy has never asked him for it and he’s had it ever since Young’s sister died. Baum keeps it in his office at CAA. He told me he has formally bequeathed the Oscar to the Academy when he (Baum) dies … Other legal goings-on: Ricardo Montalban goes to court April 7 in his five-year suit vs. Columbia Pictures TV and Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. for “compensatory damages according to proof” for the 5% profits in his “Fantasy Island” contract. The series lasted 8-1/2 years and he’s seen no “profits.” Ricardo’s attorney Neil Papiano notes punitive damages are also demanded “for fraud and RICO stipulations.” Aaron Spelling is not a defendant — but will of course be called. Meanwhile, his deposition has been friendly for Montalban. The thesp, chairman of the board of Nosotros, (Jerry Velasco is prez) will be very much involved in the Golden Eagle Awards, Feb. 7 at the Bonaventure Hotel. Ricardo is feeling “strong as a 17-year-old” and hopeful new medication will soon help him to walk again — it has been three years since his surgery. “Chicago Hope” is talking a two-seg role for him. Montal-ban notes there are still not enough roles for Latinos, reminding, “we are a growing ‘minority’ and we count at the box office.”

ROSEANNE’S ON AGAIN, off again legit debut as the Wicked Witch in “The Wizard of Oz” is now on again for May 7-June 1 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. The legit “Oz”company bowed in 1992 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in N.J. in a production that had the audience cheering live cyclone effects, which had cows, boats and even farmhouses soaring through the theater — and Miss Almira Gulch (who is later the Wicked Witch) sailing above the audience in pre-“Twister”-like effects. Have fun, Roseanne! Robert Johanson will direct at the Garden as he had at the Paper Mill. An open casting will be held for Toto. But how about “Eddie” of “Frasier” — even though he’s a Jack Russell Terrier … The Hollywood Women’s Political Committee members say they’re puzzled about being incorrectly credited in Entertainment Weekly (Jan. 31) for the ad reprint of the Gloria Steinem piece about “The People vs. Larry Flynt” in Daily Variety Jan. 17. Given the group’s long-standing commitment to free-dom of speech, they say this is an effort they would never have undertaken … Ann-Margret, Gwen Verdon and Bella Lewitsky will be honored with the Professional Dancers Society’s Gypsy Award on Feb. 9 at the Century Plaza. Joni Berry, president of the Society, also reports a new affiliation with the Actors Fund of America now providing care for dancers in need through the Actors Fund facilities in Englewood, N.J. One of the longtime goals of the Society has been to provide a home for aging and retired dancers … Congrats to “60 Minutes” for dropping Sunday’s Cosby-Dan Rather seg. ‘Nuff said … Angie Dickinson and Richard Crenna team again as wife and hus-band, this time for CBS’ “Dark Family Secrets” for Dick Clark Prods. … Carol Burnett and Charlton Heston team in A.R. Gurney’s “Love Letters” in a one-niter, directed by Ted Weiant Feb. 19 at the Coronet to benefit the Play-wrights’ Kitchen Ensemble.

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