GOOD MORNING: Frankenstein lives again. This time it’s “The House of Frankenstein,” Universal-NBC’s four-hour mini to air during sweeps, Nov. 2-3. The studio, of course, is the birthplace of the classic-film version of that monster, plus “Dracula,” “Wolf Man,” etc.; they are all in this contemporary story, in one shape or another. On my visit to the set, as the Universal Studio Tours tram went by Stage 24, the guide told the tourists what was shooting inside the stage. The tourists cheered in anticipation of what terror lies in store. Ah, this is movie-making — for TV. NBC is picking up $11.8 million of the $14 million budget. “They (NBC) have a great relationship with us (U),” said exec producer David Israel. He added that he can’t wait “to tap into the library” of Universal monster hits. Interest runs high on the lot for the mini and Universal execs regularly visit the sets, like this one, for a nitery, “The House of Frankenstein Club.” Among execs was Barbara Fisher, president of U-TV Entertainment, who expects a great overseas TV market for the mini and the video, which will be cut down to two hours. It will be shown at Mipcom. Also visiting the set were Paulo de Olivera, VP of creative affairs for U TV, plus reps from Universal Studios Hollywood and Florida, who were trying to conjure up a way to convert the $250,000 nightclub set into a monster attraction for the parks. The set boasts all sorts of ancient torture artifacts from iron maidens to sarcophagi — but laced with laser beams criss-crossing the club floor while gorgeously exotic patrons filled the barroom (Seagram’s served, natch). Many of them are onetime/sometime converts of the vampire. High atop the stage, Adrian Pasdar and Teri Polo wore fire-retardant underwear beneath their costumes as flames licked about them. “Bring your flames up,” said director Werner as Pasdar tossed the evil Greg Wise (vampire) into the inferno. The temperature in the Valley was near 100 and atop the set, Pasdar told me, the mercury was over 116 degrees. The beautiful Polo had just been morph’d from her wolf-like creation back to human. Wise has undergone three hours for his makeup transformation. While the movie is “funky” it is not “campy,” Israel assures. Director Peter Werner said the mini is a combination of drama, special effects “and the study of human character.” Peter Crombie, best known as “Seinfeld’s” Crazy Joe Davola, plays Dr. Frankenstein’s creature, who has come back from his frozen state in the North Pole to live again. Makeup is by two-time Oscar-winner Greg Cannom (“Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and “Mrs. Doubtfire”). Fantasy II will do the f/x Of this Frankenstein monster, producer Israel said, “He’s a very sympathetic character. Like ‘E.T.’ all he wants to do is to go home.” And start the series.
IN THE CRUSH OUTSIDE the Village Theater preem of “Conspiracy Theory,” Julia Roberts suffered an injured ankle. She stayed for the screening but skipped the post-party at Jerry’s Deli — not the one next door in Westwood Village but at the West Hollywood branch across the street from Cedars-Sinai. Roberts next heads to Borneo to host a docu on the endangered orangutans, then returns to N.Y. for TriStar’s touching “Good Night Moon,” costarring Susan Sarandon and either Ed Harris or Alec Baldwin, with Chris Columbus directing. Being negotiated for Roberts’ next is Polygram’s “Roman Holiday”-ish “Nottinghill Film,” co-starring Hugh Grant, from his “Four Weddings and a Funeral” screenwriter Richard Curtis and “Persuasion” director Roger Mitchell. … Roberts’ ex, Lyle Lovett, attended the preem (not with her) There was no question Mel Gibson gave his all in this, yet another very physical role for Dick Donner and Joel Silver. I had watched him film one of the torture chamber scenes, and he didn’t pull back. Gibson’s now pitching the pic on “The Tonight Show” as well as “Vibe” and then off to London and European openings. There never was any question Gibson’s character would survive in the finale, said Silver. “Mel Gibson always lives!” After the screening, Jim Coburn complimented Gibson’s ability to “pull off” the complex character. Jodie Foster, looking particularly chic, attended the preem of pal Gibson’s pic with Randy Stone. The industry audience cheered when Donner appeared in the first scene as one of cab driver Gibson’s passengers. Others from Donner’s office seen throughout the pic included Mills Goodloe, Dan Cracchiolo, Cece Neberlabow, Geoff Johns and Jim Van Wick. Silver declined to act in this one. But “Lethal Weapon IV” is coming up.
FAYE DUNAWAY ARRIVED IN PORTLAND at 6 p.m. for her skedded 7:30 curtain in “Master Class” Tuesday p.m. … Mel Torme, who suffered a stroke a year ago (Aug. 8), is resting comfortably at his BevHills home. He enjoys his weekly “Guys Night Out” at Hugh Hefner’s for dinner and a classic movie. He’s grateful for all the good wishes and prayers and assures he has no intention of retiring, although the full recovery process has been a long and arduous one. … Vendela and her husband, financier Olaf Thommessen, are expecting their first child in Feb. She is just back from India and Bangladesh filming a docu for UNICEF where she’s an Intl. Spokesperson and Ambassador on girls’ education. She followed her feature bow as Mrs. Freeze in “Batman & Robin” with a cameo as herself in Disney’s “The Parent Trap.” Vendela is one of Revlon’s top commercial stars and she hopes to do commercials for baby projects in the future. … E! Entertainment’s Kymberly Douglas and husband Jerry Douglas (“Young & the Restless”) welcomed their first, son Hunter William D. Aug. 2 at Cedars-Sinai. … Ellen DeGeneres, back from visiting Anne Heche on the Hawaii location of “Six Days, Seven Nights,” lunched at Drai’s Cafe with ABC’s Stu Bloomberg. DeGeneres starts “Ellen” for the web this week. And “Six Days,” starring Harrison Ford and Heche, directed by Ivan Reitman, will shoot scenes at Drai’s in September. Also lunching at Victor’s, Drew Barrymore with Bill Mechanic. Drai opens his Las Vegas eatery at the Barbary Coast Sept. 12 with a party for Oscar de la Hoya on the eve of his big bout. What do you eat the night before donning boxing trunks?