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Howard not sweating ‘Ed’s’ competish

GOOD MORNING: Director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer on Monday were shooting two units simultaneously on two Universal stages for their (Imagine’s) “Ed TV” — while their “Life” feature, starring Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, was also shooting in Dodger Stadium, with a crowd that will be computer-generated from a couple of hundred to 20,000. But that’s only the tip of the Howard-Grazer movie mountain. Between takes of “Ed” on Stage 16, Grazer and Howard told me they are thinking about a remake of “The Invisible Man,” this time with Will Smith and with Peter and Bobby Farrelly directing. Continuing to work with Universal, Imagine is also readying a remake of Hitchcock’s classic “Psycho,” with the Joseph Stefano script intact (with a few edits for today). Grazer says he’s spoken with the Hitchcock family as well as Lew Wasserman, “I wouldn’t make it without their approval,” he insists. Grazer lunches with Wasserman on a regular monthly basis, out of respect and to try and absorb more about the studio’s chef d’oeuvres The principals working on Monday’s “Ed” filming were (a lightly bearded) Matthew McConaughey, his movie mother Sally Kirkland and his “TV” stepfather Martin Landau. The movie camera crew was augmented by two mobile video crews, taping the cast’s goings-on for the “inner” story (where a cable TV audience views the 24-hour life of McConaughey). What’s the difference between “Ed TV” and “The Truman Show”? Plenty, say Howard and Grazer. While “Truman” is set in a completely created environment unbeknownst to its principal, their pic is about a man who knows what he’s doing and becomes a celeb when he allows his life to be chronicled “live.” Is “Ed” worried about “Truman”? No: for one thing, “Ed” won’t be released until next summer. Grazer, who has seen “Truman” (which preemed Monday night at Par), said it’s terrific as is Jim Carrey. Carrey starred for Howard and Grazer in “Liar, Liar,” but they do not have another pic planned together. However, Carrey and Howard spoke at the MTV Awards.

“I COULDNT’ WAIT TO GET BACK and do a comedy,” Howard says: this is his first since “Parenthood.” “It’s great to laugh at dailies again.” The movie, he admits, is also a lot like “A Face in the Crowd.” The cast includes Jenna Elfman (as McConaughey’s girlfriend and the former g.f. of his brother Woody Harrelson); Dennis Hopper as McConaughey’s real father; Elizabeth Hurley is McConaughey’s girlfriend as he gains newfound celebrity on the cable show; Ellen DeGeneres is the network exec who created the national obsession of McConaughey’s life, “live” on TV; and Rob Reiner is the network head. To give the movie more believability, Howard has guestars including Jay Leno, David Letterman, and a panel including Harry Shearer, Michael Moore, George Plimpton, Arianna Huffington and Merrill Markoe. As you might imagine there are ad libs with this group! While it might seem like the biz and celebrity are put down, Howard states, “I don’t want to be hypocritical — after all, we’re all in this business!”

“IT SHOULDA SAID “EXTRA-SPECIAL,” but the invite said, “A special evening with Dan Rather.” The tribute to him by/at the Museum of Television & Radio in BevHills was a rare treat for all on hand. Rather wound his week of network newscasts from L.A., admitting to me he’d like to do more from here. Next stop this month is China and he hopes to go into Pakistan for a Rather report on potentially catastrophic conditions in that part of the world. During the evening at the Museum, the remarkable Rather said his ambition since childhood was always to be a reporter. In a q&a with Museum prez Robert Batscha and guests in the John Mitchell Theater, he spoke of his disappointment in the disintegration of in-depth reporting to instantaneous attempts to gain ratings. He included all networks in the daily D.C. doings with Lewinsky and Clinton. His description of well-orchestrated “leaks” and his explanations of various “off-the-record” remarks were a lesson in contemporary journalism. He spoke of his dealings with every President since JFK in 1961, explaining his respect for ’em (in one fashion or another) — including Nixon, who had him audited four times by the IRS. He also admitted considering, for a time, the offer from CNN — but said he has no regrets for not having accepted. He praised CBS for its quality in news reporting-writing. He mixed his serious appraisals with down-home Texas humor comparisons. The clips of Rather covering global events were a first-hand history of the world Following the q&a, guests dined in the Bell Family Gallery, where more classic clips of Rather’s remarkable career were shown and tributes were given him by Angela Lansbury, chairman-CEO of CBS Corp. Michael H. Jordan, CBS News prez Andrew Heyward, and Harry Shearer. Rather, in turn, thanked and praised them all — and in another of those down-home quips, said Lansbury has as many talents “as a hound dog has fleas.” And when the evening closed, the generous honoree stood at the door and thanked all for coming. Thank you, Dan Rather.

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