GOOD MORNING: Buckle up for another takeoff in space — and this one isn’t “Lost.” It’s the 1999 “Martian Chronicles” for Universal and again written by Ray Bradbury, who originally penned the book almost 50 years ago. I spoke with Bradbury, 77, who is as enthusiastic as ever — he’s completed three new books and is about the embark on three more. He met last week with Mel Gibson on his completed script of “Fahrenheit 451” for WB. He also wrote “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit,” now completed at Disney and it’s off to festivals; it came in at $6 million, “but looks like a lot more.” “The Martian Chronicles’ is being thought of in the $70-80 million class, but Gerald Molen, who will produce with John Philip Dayton, Duane Poole and Lauren Weissman, says they’re awaiting a final script breakdown. They’re now looking to set a director. Bradbury reminds his first film job was at Universal in 1952 with “It Came From Outer Space.” Now, with the Pathfinder’s findings on Mars and daily advances, “Martian Chronicles” becomes a hotter project “Martian” was filmed as a six-hour NBC miniseries in 1980, with a cast including Rock Hudson, Roddy McDowall, Darren McGavin, Bernadette Peters, Maria Schell, Joyce Van Patten, Fritz Weaver and Michael Anderson Jr., directed by his father (from a script by Richard Matheson) Dayton suggested Bradbury make a feature version while working with him on “Ray Bradbury’s Theater” series on USA in ’86. For producer Molen, it will be a step into the future following the past in the two “Jurassic Park” films, as well as the thought-provoking “Schindler’s List” The Universal pic is under the guidance of the studio’s Kevin Misher .
“TWO HANDS THAT SHOOK THE WORLD,” the story of Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, will be the next project from Barbra Streisand and Cis Corman’s Barwood plus Jazbo Prods. The original script is by Ilana Bar-Din Giannini. It’s for Showtime and tells the story of the two men who, as boys, lived minutes away from each other in Israel — but never met until that day at the White House. … Director Joe Sargent, now teamed with Barwood on “Incident on Long Island,” has just been set to direct “Crime and Punishment” for Robert Halmi and NBC Lauren Bacall, who just wound a two-part “Chicago Hope,” as a patient with an inoperable brain tumor, assured me she lives. “It takes a lot more than ‘Chicago Hope’ to kill me!” P.S. she says “They couldn’t have been nicer to me.” Her son, Sam Robards, will join Beau Bridges in ABC’s “Maximum Bob” series playing the sheriff to the judge (“Maximum-Sentence Bob”), played by Bridges. When asked if she’d play Sam’s mom in a seg, Bacall bellowed, “How dare you!” She laughed and admitted, “I wouldn’t.” … Madonna says she wasn’t the anonymous bidder who bought Eva Peron’s Argentine flag gem-studded brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels at Christie’s auction Monday night — for $992,500. But Madonna says she has a watch, once owned by Eva — it was given to her by Alan Parker.
STEVE STABLER’S NEW DESTINATION FILMS scored a coup in launching as a distribution house for major product with Largo’s summer horror/thriller “John Carpenter’s Vampires.” Destination Films beat out several majors. The pic preems Tuesday in Paris, part of a monthlong celebration of Carpentermania featuring 23 of his films. … Congrats to Cheryl Kagan, Rogers & Cowan VP, and husband Dr. Hilly N. Dubin on the March 27 arrival of their adopted daughter Brooke Madison D. Kagan departs R&C today (after 17 years) to open her own praisery in Tulsa, well as L.A. … And vet praiser Joe Sutton debuts his “Talkin With Papa Joe” talkshow on KLSX-FM Sunday, 10-11 p.m. and each Sunday night following. … The marquee on the Music Hall theater read: “Harry Lewis in ‘Key Largo.’ ” Wife Marilyn drove him to the theater, claiming they needed to pick up extra popcorn for a party at their Kate Mantilini’s eatery across the street. Inside the theater Harry was of course greeted with “Surprise — Happy Birthday” and the pic unspooled. He played the baby-faced gangster “Toots” in the all-star WB 1948 classic directed by John Huston, for which Claire Trevor won an Oscar. After the screening, the 370 guests were dined at their (closed for the party) Mantilini’s, where guests included Frank Liberman, best man at their 1951 wedding — who was then a publicist at WB. Ditto Dick Carroll, who segued from the studio publicity department to become one of Rodeo Drive’s most successful haberdashers (now on Canon), and Norman Brokaw, then an office boy at the William Morris office who picked up (client) actors’ checks at the studio. After a seven-year pact at WB, Lewis and wife Marilyn established the first Hamburger Hamlet on the Strip for $3,500. One of the regulars was Jay Livingston, who’d bring over celebs for their nightly (1-3 ayem) KGIL radio show. They built the Hamlets into a chain of 24, sold in ’87 for $33 million. Marilyn’s exec producer of “The Passion of Ayn Rand” for Showtime and readying another pic, “The Scorpio’s Secret” by Sherman Friedman.