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Press wants info on Leibman’s ‘Friends’

GOOD MORNING: Sign of the times: “I’m in this serious movie by Sidney Lumet (“Night Falls on Manhattan”), but all that the interviewers want to ask me about is ‘Friends’!” It’s “Night” costar Ron Leibman talking — he’s Jennifer Aniston’s father in the TV’er and in “Night Falls,” the highly dramatic Lumet movie about the ethics of today’s law enforcement, Leibman plays the very high-energy district attorney with Andy Garcia as his prosecuting attorney. So, Ron, tell us about Jennifer Aniston and “The Friends” troupe. “She’s not being ruined by the business,” he said of his TV daughter, and as for the series’ troupe of young thesps, “on a personal level, they’re good kids.” What about the newcomers’ salary demands? “That’s the only way to get money — say ‘NO!’,” said Leibman, alumnus of TV series in which he won an Emmy for “Kaz” (as well as a Tony for “Angels in America”). But coming back to the Par feature “Night Falls on Manhattan,” Leibman claims he’s wanted to work for Lumet for years. His wife, Jessica Walter, co-starred in Lumet’s 1966 ensemble piece “The Group.” “And I’d keep asking,” said Ron, “When am I going to work for him?” Meanwhile, Walter returns to TV in a recurring role in the upcoming CBSeries “George and Leo” starring Bob Newhart. And Leibman and Andy Garcia hit it off so well in the Lumet film they’ll reteam in a second-Manhattan-set feature, “The Scalper,” next month. It’s Garcia’s first time out as producer. Garcia’s the scalper, Leibman, the bookie.

ANOTHER FILM ABOUT BOOKIES to shoot in N.Y. next month will be “Lesser Prophets” with an all-star cast, William DeVizia debut-directing for October Films and producer Richard Temtchine. The cast: Scott Glenn, Dennis Hopper, Jimmy Smits, John Turturo, Sheryl Lee, Annabella Sciora, etc. Glenn says first time director DeVizia was able to assemble the hefty cast because of Paul Diomede’s script about the relationship between N.Y. cops and bookies. Before patrolling the streets of N.Y. Glenn is off to the island of Bequia where his artist-wife Carol was given a six-week residence in a house with servants and cook — as a fellowship from the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Before leaving for the island paradise, in advance of his N.Y. cop role, Scott got this order from his film bosses: “Don’t get a tan!” … Elizabeth Taylor’s proposed trip to the Cannes fest to host her AIDS dinner is off. Medics said it was too soon for her to tackle the far-off event. She is feeling OK and is reading two film scripts — which are in development — but which would not go before fall. … Tanya Tucker and Dateline NBC’s Stone Phillips have been getting togetherness space in multimedia reports, including a lengthy one in Tuesday’s USA Today in which their reps say “they’ve become good friends. Philips is very happily married.” But patrons at Dan Tana’s saw the “good friends” together there two nights in a row. … USA Today’s well-liked (and respected) columnist Jeannie Williams is taking the summer off (June, July, August) to write a book — about Canadian opera tenor Jon Vickers for Northeastern Press of Boston. … And hot off the presses from Beachwood Press is Ken Wlaschin’s “Opera on Screen,” a comprehensive guide of all operas on film/tape dating back to the turn of the century.

IT’S LIKE ‘GWTW’ ONLY this is for real,” said Carl Reiner after viewing Craig Anderson’s CBS mini, “True Women” at the TV Acad theater, Tuesday (airs May 18 and 20) . Carl and Estelle Reiner were in the overflow crowd at the League of Women Voters benefit screening. They are relatives, by marriage, of “True Women” author Janice Woods Windle — who was on hand along with members of the cast and over 100 in a Texas contingent. Many were descendants of the characters portrayed in the epic saga of the American frontier — including two grandchildren of men who had died at the Alamo. Anderson’s next, another CBS mini, is also a true story, about the “Miraculous Staircase,” of Santa Fe. It’s also scripted by “True Women’s” Christopher Lofton. … Samuel L. Jackson takes a breather from “Sphere” and pre-production of “Jackie Brown” for a long weekend in Bermuda and his first celeb golf classic to benefit the Catalog for Giving and the Council Partners Charitable Trust of Bermuda. … Next for the AFI Associates Classic Film Series screening and dinner at Arnie Morton’s are Ronald Neame and his “Poseidon Adventure” May 29 and Robert Wise and “West Side Story” June 24. … Donald Mills, last of the Mills Bros., is recuping from hip replacement surgery following a fall at LAX, when returning from a Florida date. Mills, 82, in showbiz 75 years, had to cancel his Mother’s Day concert at the Culver Studios. … Jack Jones tapes a seg on VH1 today aboard the new Sun Princess in Florida, singing the new swing versions of “The Love Boat Theme.” He’s on a “NewJackSwing” tour with his new cd (Honest Entertainment) of the same name.

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