GOOD MORNING: Brian Wilson, the leader of the Beach Boys and one of the most innovative musicians around, will be the subject of a WB biopic to be produced by Marvin Worth and Don Was (who made a docu on Wilson). There will, of course, also be a Beach Boys soundtrack album of the pic. The movie will deal with the psychological makeup of Wilson as well as his art, the setbacks in his life, the mistakes as well as the successes. As Was notes, “He is the strongest person I ever met — an inspiration.” The remarkable note of Wilson’s music is that his melodies are so catchy, 10 year-olds could sing them, Was reminds; it took Wilson’s genius to make the complex seem so simple. Wilson will be active in the making of the movie. Meanwhile, Marvin Worth continues to ready his James Dean biopic, also at WB, with Mark Rocco the project’s third director, who also had had a hand in the new script. Was will do the soundtrack album for this as well as the Wilson biopic. Worth is also prepping the Lenny Bruce bio for B’way, co-producing with Fran and Barry Weissler. Scott Elliott directs the legiter Don Was, who just received another Grammy nomination (for producer of the year), is next planning to direct a feature: “The Knockout Artist,” from Harry Crews’ novel. Was says the “quirky story is also uplifting and heroic” and will be produced by Tom Rosenberg at Par.
BEFORE HEADING TO MEXICO and “The Mask of Zorro,” Tony Hopkins, who arrives today from England, will host “The Lost Children of Berlin.” It’s the second doc produced for Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation by producers James Moll and June Beallor. “Lost Children,” to air on the A&E cable net this Spring, depicts the holocaust from the perspective of children. It’s told through a reunion of holocaust survivors who were students at a Jewish school in Berlin that was closed in 1942 by the Nazis. It reopened in the fall of ’96. The Foundation’s first docu, “Survivors of the Holocaust,” won two Primetime Emmys, and a CableAce Award. The testimonies on both docus are from more than 25,000 (!) survivor testimonies collected by the Shoah Foundation. Spielberg founded the (non-profit) Shoah Visual History Foundation with the holocaust survivor interviews cataloged and archived and available via online, interactive nets, and educational docus, books and CD-ROMs as well. Lest we forget Katharine Hepburn performs the voice of her mother, Kit Hepburn, who was one of the early leaders of the birth control movement in the U.S., in “Roots of Roe.” It’s PBS’ one-hour drama on the history of contraception and abortion in the U.S. The show was first produced in 1993 by Connecticut Public TV and won three local Emmys; so PBS reshot it 1996 to air Jan. 22, the 24th anni of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision. Joanne Woodward is Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood. Others heard/seen are Jason Robards, Brooke Shields, Anne Archer, Drew Barrymore, Sharon Stone and Peter Coyote. Ellen Burstyn and James Whitmore narrate. Andrea Haas Hubbell is producer/director and she also scripted with Jeremy Brecher. Larry Rifkin and Bruce Fraser exec produced Ann-Margret made her first non-singing/dancing stage appearance at the Cuillo Centre for the Arts in West Palm Beach, Fla., co-starring with Burt Reynolds in A.R. Gurney’s “Love Letters” during the first week of this new year. Howcum? A-M and Roger Smith were there visiting her mom, “and Burt and Pam (g.f. Pam Seals) were so hospitable and he’s doing such great things for the students there and I didn’t have to memorize anything! I had a great time.” Ann-Margret was nothing short of sensational, reports Charles Nelson Reilly, who directed and says they are looking for more legit dates for her and Burt. But she’s now prepping a pilot for CBS along with Alan Margulies, who was entertainment director at Caesars Palace. Meanwhile Reilly goes on to B’way to direct D.L. Coburn’s “The Gin Game’ with Julie Harris and Charles Durning at the Lyceum. Reilly says he’s been working non-stop acting as well since a guest appearance on “X Files.”
A GREAT BIG BANG: that’s how Bette Midler is planning to open her “Diva Las Vegas” HBO show which tapes, starting tomorrow, at the MGM Grand. The opening on the air will show a series of Las Vegas hotels crashing to the ground — ones that have been imploded like the Sands, Dunes, the Landmark plus the MGM Grand! The MGM Grand? Its implosion is planned via special fx, with the divine one rising from the ashes. Her show will air Jan. 18 on HBO. … Phoenix family news: Joaquin P. who completed Oliver Stone’s “U-Turn” with Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Claire Danes and Billy Bob Thornton, returned from Italy where he starred in a print ad campaign for Prada. He will also be seen this Spring in Imagine-20th’s “Inventing the Abbotts.” Summer Phoenix heads to Sundance with “Arresting Gena.” She attends with brother Rain, who just wound touring with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and resumes acting. And Liberty Phoenix just welcomed the stork. … Lionel Richie and manager Freddy De Mann have parted. Richie’s album “Louder Than Words” (Mercury) has now gone triple platinum. … Dick Stolley, a founding editor of People mag, and thesp Lise Hilboldt will wed Feb. 8 at St. James Church in N.Y.