Evans recovering from brush with death

GOOD MORNING: It ain’t over until the fat lady sings, but Bob Evans admitted, “I heard the fat lady sing!” He is now making a remarkable recovery from his stroke, and when we saw him over the holiday weekend he looked like his former self — perhaps a little thinner, but he was walking without any assistance and talking nonstop, like his former self. He rapid-fired off plans for three films, others in development. “And I’m writing a book: ‘I Heard the Fat Lady Sing!’ ” about his experience in the latest (almost last) chapter of his colorful life, in which he’s now following doctor’s orders to the letter … “Would you have any objection if there was another comedian on the same bill with you?” Steve Allen was asked as he readied to go on at Hermosa Beach’s Comedy & Magic Club. “Who?” asked Steverino. “Jerry Seinfeld.” “What do you want me to do: Open the show, close, or wash dishes?” said the always-generous Allen. When Allen introduced him, the reaction from the audience was disbelief! Seinfeld then brought down the house with 45 minutes of routines he will retire from his act after his HBO special (Aug. 9 from the Broadhurst stage). After the show, Seinfeld and Allen shmoozed for a long time, in which Jerry admitted when he was 11, he sent for an autographed picture of Allen. “It’s still hanging on my wall,” said Seinfeld, who then took off for dates in Sweden, Iceland and London. Of course this brief encounter with Seinfeld will be a chapter in one of Allen’s next books — on comedians … Tony Bennett joins Seinfeld in the blurb market, signing on for Visa’s new Check Card commercial, bowing on today’s All-Star Game … Courtney Love plays Andy Kaufman’s love, Lynn, in “Man on the Moon” for Jersey Films, Shapiro-West at Universal, starring Jim Carrey with Milos Forman directing. Love co-starred for Forman in the Larry Flynt biopic as well.

IT WAS NANCY REAGAN’S 77th birthday on Monday, and longtime friend Merv Griffin’s 73rd, but they’ll celebrate together today, lunching at his Givenchy hotel and spa in Palm Springs. Griffin next yachts north to Seattle, where he’ll tape 22 segs of his new gameshow, “Click,” and later this year launches his panel show, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” … Showbiz and politix: The latest celeb to lend her support to a Presidential campaign is Connie Stevens, who is opening her house (contributions, natch) Sunday for Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.), the naval hero who spent 5-1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Connie met him in D.C. during a screening of her “A Healing,” about female Viet vets. Stevens wings in for her politico event from Tampa and her ninth anni with Home Shopping Network with her Forever Spring line … Stacy Keach will be the first U.S. thesp to star in the West End production of the Tony-winning “Art,” bowing July 28 at the Wyndham Theatre for a 14-week run … Allan Carr’s back from London, where he was accompanied by Olivia Newton-John and Didi Conn for “Grease,” which is a sellout there as well as in Australia, South Africa and Singapore. Carr submits a final draft of his next, “Personal Shopper,” to Par this week. Drew Barrymore is the hoped-for lead … Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna bow their stage comedy, “If You Ever Leave Me, I’m Going With You: An Evening With Renee And Joe” Thursday through Sunday this week and next at the Lee Strasberg school here and Aug. 1-2 in the Hamptons in hopes of a B’way stand. The L.A. performances benefit the L.A. Free Clinic, U. of Judaism and Americans for Democratic Action.

“HAPPY TRAILS,” THE ROY ROGERS biopic, “has the same morals and family values we’re expounding these days,” says CBS’ Sunta Izzicupo. The vidpic, she adds, will have “things we didn’t know abut Roy and Dale (Evans) — good things. And a surprise ending. It couldn’t be a nicer story, and it’s a wonderful script (by John McGreevey).” The holiday season looks like a possibility. On May 29, I wrote Rogers had taped the final scene of the projected telefilm in which Roy and Dale hosted one of their (many) children’s charity events, raising $200,000. Jimmy Hawkins is producing the vidpic, with Gil Cates and Dennis Doty as exec producers … Following the public memorial for Rogers Saturday afternoon, a private service will be held at 5:30 in the Church of the Valley in Apple Valley … AMC will tribute Rogers Wednesday and Sunday, and TCM has a double feature of Rogers on Saturday … Peter Morton is building a basketball court plus stands for 6,000 on his Hard Rock Hotel & Casino property. It’s for a series of games, Aug. 16-17, between NBA stars and showbiz celebs to benefit the ERAS Center of Culver City. The event honors Steve Tisch, who is one of the benefactors of the ERAS Center, which has encouraged more than 75,000 children from “at risk” conditions to be able, along with other “special” young people, to contribute to the community and succeed in our society. Morton told me, “I believe in what they are doing, and I couldn’t be more delighted” in hosting the event. Morton and Tisch also teamed in exec producing the feature “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Bands,” which Polygram is distributing worldwide.

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