Close sings ‘Ballad’ to CBS

GOOD MORNING: An enthusiastic Glenn Close confirmed she will team with Craig Anderson to produce “The Ballad of Lucy Whipple” as a two-hour TV movie for CBS. Close brought the story by the Newberry Medal-winning author to Anderson. Close told me “It is a very beautiful story told through the eyes of a child” — but with a real adult interpretation. Anderson says it’s about a widow and her children who set out to the Calif. gold rush looking for the “California dream” and find nothing but hard rocks and hard work. “I try to do something different,” said Close, who reminds she has a 10-year-old daughter Annie. First, Close stars for Robert Altman in “Cookie’s Fortune” with Julianne Moore as her sister. They’ll film near Memphis. And Close laughs, “I want to see Graceland!” Anderson meanwhile airs his “The Staircase” starring Barbara Hershey on CBS Easter Sunday, April 12. CD’s of the soundtrack of this MOW by composer David Michael Frank will be given away in contests conducted over 4,000 Southwest Airline flights next week! … Robert Halmi suffered a broken hip while searching locations for “Crime and Punishment” in Budapest. But the unstoppable Halmi, still on crutches, wings here Wednesday to dine with Jon Voight and talk about their upcoming teaming on “Noah” to film in Australia. Voight has been busy researching the role between takes on his just-wound “The General” in which he reteamed with John Boorman for the first time since “Deliverance,” in Ireland. The generous Voight tells us to expect “General” costar Brendan Gleason to win awards for his performance. The pic will be at Cannes. Voight’s now here playing the enemy in “Enemy of the State” with Gene Hackman and Will Smith. … After Australia, Halmi heads to Morocco to set sites for “Cleopatra.” His many other projected projects include “Murder in the Rue Morgue,” “Huckleberry Finn,” “The Life of P.T. Barnum,” and a year’s pre-production with the Henson Creature Shop on “Animal Farm” — which may have input also on “Noah’s” menagerie.

ANOTHER PROJECT WHICH MEANT A LOT to the late Dawn Steel, “On Borrowed Time,” is being readied by her husband and partner in their Atlas Prods., Charles Roven. Her last film for their banner, “City of Angels” is about to be released by WB. While “Angels” is about an angel (Nicolas Cage) who returns to earth and falls in love with a very live Meg Ryan, “On Borrowed Time” is about a family patriarch’s device to prolong the arrival of the angel of death. “Angels” is dedicated to Dawn Steel in the final credit, “For Dawn,” says Roven who credits Steel as being “the locomotive and inspiration for getting it made.” And the preem April 8, “basically to celebrate her life,” will announce a fund, the Dawn Steel Putting the Girls in the Picture Fund, with the Big Sisters of L.A. It will provide mentors for 50 “at risk-at need” girls and award one of them with the finances to help achieve her goal. Roven and Steel’s 11-year-old daughter Rebecca will be on the board. “We thought it would be the right thing to do,” Roven said. … “On Borrowed Time” was originally on stage in 1938 ($3.30 top) at the Longacre with Josh Logan directing, next a movie in 1939 with an ensemble cast including Lionel Barrymore, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Beulah Bondi, Una Merkel, Bob Watson, Nat Pendelton, etc. And again on B’way in ’91 at the Circle in the Square ($40 top) directed by and starring George C. Scott, and Teresa Wright, Nathan Lane, Conrad Bain, etc. Daily Variety‘s review noted the show started that B’way season off “on a high note.” The opportunity for terrif casting is possible in the new film as well.

CHARLTON HESTON, IN AN AD for the NRA in April’s Popular Mechanics, urges, “Join me, join us, join today.” He warns, “There is a cultural war raging across America. Anti-gun media, politicians, educators and thought police are storming your values, assaulting your freedoms, killing your self-confidence.” Hey Chuck, tell that to the grieving children and parents of Jonesboro, Ark. … “Grease” is not only great at the boxoffice and on CDs, it’s hot in the bookstalls with Didi Conn’s “Frenchy’s ‘Grease’ Scrapbook — ‘We’ll Always Be Together’ ” going into its second printing (Hyperion). Producer Allan Carr reports N.Y.’s Barnes & Noble (at the Lincoln Triangle) has ordered 6,000 copies of Conn’s book. Carr and Jerry Herman who teamed on “La Cage Aux Folles” are talking ideas for a B’way musical return. … Henry Kissinger receives the King David Award from the Jerusalem Fund of Aish Ha’Torahtonight at the Gotham home of songwriter, publisher, producer Denise Rich. Larry King m.c’s. … Also tonight, newlyweds Danielle Steel and Thomas Perkins celebrate their wedding tonight at Daniel. … Michael Crawford returns to Radio City Music Hall June 30-July 1. … RuPaul will be in L.A. beginning Thursday to tape 10 segs of her VH1/World of Wonder show. Guests range from Zsa Zsa to Elvira to Little Richard and Cybill Shepherd. … Charlotte Rae plays a Holocaust survivor on Wednesday’s seg of CBS’ “Michael Hayes” — it’s titled, “Gotterdammerung.”

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