HBO goes ‘All the Way’ for Rat Pack pic

GOOD MORNING: Alumni of Frank Sinatra recording sessions were among those playing “All the Way” Wednesday, in the Capitol recording session for HBO’s “The Rat Pack.” It is one of 13 tunes sung by Michael Dees. Ray Liotta portrays Sinatra and lip-synchs Dees in “live performances” — no real recordings of Sinatra are used in the two-hour vidpic. “We went through so many legal handlers reading the script (by Kario Salen, who also did ‘Don King: Only in America’),” director Rob Cohen told me. Mark Adler, who scores the film, has “augmented” the original arrangements of Don Costa and Nelson Riddle, said Cohen, “to achieve a more dynamic format for today’s digital sense of presence and not to be stuck in the technology of the ’50s.” I warned Cohen that purists (even yours truly) will never find any need for “augmentation” of the classic arrangements. As for Liotta’s carbon of Sinatra, Cohen says he studied 50 hours of Sinatra tapes, and Tom Dreesen, who worked with Sinatra 13 years, is technical adviser — and appears at the pic’s opening as himself. Dreesen, who taped his seg before Sinatra died, says he had gotten Frank’s OK, as well as Barbara’s. “I read the script five times before I agreed to do it. And I talked to Ray Liotta 10 times.” Dreesen was a pallbearer at Sinatra’s funeral. He reminded that Barbara had invited Joe Mantegna (who plays Dean Martin) to play golf in the Sinatra tourney in Vegas the week after the funeral, demonstrating her approval of their participation in “Rat Pack.” As for Tina Sinatra’s opinion, at present she will only say for the record that WB’s Bob Daly and HBO’s John Matoian made peace. Matoian in-vited Tina to see it as soon as it is completed, but she admits, “I don’t feel up to it yet.” Cohen reiterated to me, “We all went into this with a great deal of respect, but that doesn’t mean we don’t treat it accurately.” Principals include Joe Kennedy, JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Sam Giancana and Ava Gardner … “The Rat Pack” preems Aug. 14 in Easthampton, Aug. 18 in L.A. and Aug. 20 in Las Vegas … Dreesen next plays a “wise-ass comic” in the Andy Kaufman story, “The Man in the Moon,” starring Jim Carrey and directed by Milos Forman. (Dreesen also knew Kaufman well) … Cohen moves on to another ensembler, “Fortune’s Fools” for Fox 2000 (about six L.A. cops, a snitch and a $64 million lottery ticket) and Poly-gram’s TV’d “Official Negligence,” set in the L.A. riots.

UNDER THE ALIAS of “Steve Baggett,” Anson Williams sold his screenplay “Green Cathedral” to Barbara Boyle/Michael Taylor Prods. Williams would also direct. He chose the “Baggett” moniker after the first dramatic character he played (after “Happy Days” Potsy Webber) in a seg of “Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law” — directed by Steven Spielberg. Williams, who has directed dozens of TV segs, is reining the season opener for Aaron Spelling’s “Beverly Hills 90210” this week. And Williams and wife Jackie have just adopted a baby girl, and named her Jessie. They have a 9-year-old daughter, Hannah … Annette Bening, who began as a student at the American Conservatory Theater in SanFran, showed her appreciation to Marty Pistone, with whom she studied, by reading the femme lead role in his indie feature, “Spiritual Runner” before an audience of potential investors. The pic’s written/directed by Miguel Najera with Carolyn Pistone, another producer (and writer). Karen Criswell, operations manager for DreamWorks SKG, is another producer of the Ce Acatlproduction. Among the enthusiastic potential investors were reps of Miramax and October.

DEPT. OF IRONY: Charlton Heston, president of the National Rifle Assn., will narrate “Saving the Endangered Species” series. Each seg will tell what caused each species to become at risk. (Like guns?) The series is skedded to start shooting — sorry, filming — Sept. in Africa … A touching report comes from Danny Glover in Johannesburg. He just visited villages in Namibia where school children, who didn’t know anything about the “Lethal Weapon” pics, greeted him in chorus, “Welcome, Danny.” The kids had to be taught awareness of the land mines still there from the 1990 war along the Angola border; many had lost limbs. Glover continues his work in Africa as Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. Development Program two more weeks … Shari Lewis is responding very well to chemotherapy treatments for uterine cancer and recuping at home. Husband Jeremy Tarcher and daughter Mallory are holding down the fort of their PBSeries “The Charlie Horse Music Pizza” co-starring Dom DeLuise … Dodo (Mrs. Stanley) Meyer is at Cedars-Sinai for lung surgery … The Concern Foundation raised $1.5 million with its 24th annual Block Party, this one on the Par lot, honoring Robert Ahmanson, who also gave a $250,000 endowment. The money will be given to 28 cancer researchers around the world … “American Graffiti” has its 25th anni screening at the Acad tonight with George Lucas and Mackenzie Phillips among those in a Q&A. Phillips moves to Vancouver to star in Disney’s “So Weird” series. … The “Jim Bailey Theater” opens Oct. 6 at the Racquet Club in Palm Springs, where the former Charlie Farrell house on the grounds is converted into a 250-seater. Bailey will do eight shows weekly, as Streisand, Garland, Diller, Peggy Lee — and Bailey.

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