GOOD MORNING: He would never have tried to take it to a major — but now, as he nears the final week of production, he is happily on the receiving end of offers from three majors who want to distribute it domestically. “He” is John Landis and “it” is “Susan’s Plan.” I found “him” and “it” on location Monday morning at Musso & Frank’s Grill, “the oldest restaurant in Hollywood.” Only one other film, “Ed Wood,” had locationed there in recent memory. Landis, a longtime customer (30 years), recalled dinners there with Orson Wells among other giants. Now, the film company was shining up the wood-paneled walls and monitors were placed inside the counter area as Landis viewed a scene with Rob Schneider arriving to discuss Nastassja Kinski’s planned murder of Adrian Paul. Although Nastassja was not yet in the scene with “SNL” alumnus Schneider, she was watching him. “I love to watch everything he does,” she laughed. I asked Landis how he controlled ad-libs of Schneider and others in a cast including Dan Aykroyd and Lara Flynn Boyle, plus new-to-comedy, Billy Zane and Michael Biehn. “There are no ad-libs,” screenwriter-director Landis quickly corrected. “But — there are improvisations — discussed in rehearsals.” … The Kushner-Locke pic is financed by Imperial Bank. Producer Brad Wyman, on hand, said when he read Landis’ script, he had it financed in eight hours. Filming winds Saturday, and on the 14th, Landis takes clips he assembled over the past weekend to Cannes, where they will also unspool “Blues Brothers 2000,” plus hold a concert by the four “Blues” principals and B.B. King, Paul Shaffer, Sam Moore and Eddie Floyd. … Asked what’s in “Susan’s” clips, Landis noted that the film is very sexy. Who is involved in the “sexy” scenes? “EVERYone!” The rating is fully expected to be R because of the nudity as well. While “Blue Brothers” came in at $27 million and “Blues Brothers 2000” (18 yeas later) at $28 million, there is no figure revealed on “Susan’s Plan,” the first truly independent film Landis has made since “American Werewolf in London” (1981). Producer Wyman admitted this cast agreed to $4 million in salary savings to work with Landis. … Also acting Monday were Landis’ mother Shirley and stepdad Walter Levine. The latter also appeared in “Blue Brothers” as the jailer who released John Belushi and in “2000” as the jailer who released Dan Aykroyd! Landis admitted he could afford not to be working this hard — he and wife, costume-designer Deborah Nadoolman, sold their home (the former Rock Hudson estate) for a tidy sum in the current up real estate market. … Billy Zane, who admits his role in “Titanic” (Cal Hockley) gave him the enviable title of “bastard of the century,” said he’s happy to be playing in this comedic, bumbling murder-thriller. He is now fully and handsomely coiffed for his role as Kinski’s lover, recruited by her to murder her ex-husband (Paul). Zane will also be seen in “Tax Man” (gets new title) and he produced a feature (90 mins.) based on Ed Wood’s last screenplay, “I Woke Up Early the Day I Died” with a cast of 30 including himself, John Ritter, Sandra Bernhard, Jonathan Taylor-Thomas and Tippi Hedren. The versatile Zane will also produce-star in “Red Line,” a motorbike racing pic in Europe. … Landis, whose banner is also busy on the small screen with the “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” series for Buena Vista TV, also segues between music videos — two with Michael Jackson — and the tasty taco teleblurb with Shaquille O’Neal. Producer Brad Wyman wants Landis to do a remake of one of his (Landis’) favorite films, “King Kong.” But Landis says he’s not keen on aping classix. But he’ll take a look at (remakes of) “Mighty Joe Young” and, of course, “Godzilla” this summer.
THE OPENING NUMBER OF THE TONYS will have Rosie O’Donnell singing a special production number with one of the nominees, Betty Buckley. The latter arrived in L.A. Monday for Thursday’s Children’s Circle of Care charity gala at the Santa Monica Pier. Buckley, a Tony-winner for “Cats,” is nominated this year for (the closed) “Triumph of Love.” She red-eyes back to N.Y. for her Carnegie concert Friday with the N.Y. Pops, singing two numbers from “Sunset Blvd.,” plus “Memory,” “Hello Young Lovers,” “Almost Like Being In Love,” etc. On May 17, Buckley gets an honorary doctorate in music from the Boston Conservatory.
LEONARDO DICAPRIO GAVE AGENT Darryl Marshak an autographed $100 bill at the agent’s (fortysomething) birthday party given Marshak by producer-wife Susan Zachary at Fu’s Palace on Pico, Saturday night. The $100 bill was to replace the original one stolen from the wall of the agency. DiCaprio wrote, “You were right about ‘Gilbert Grape,’ ” and added on the new bill, “I hope you are right again.” DiCaprio was advised by Marshak to accept “Grape” (which got him an Oscar nomination) instead of another pic, “SFW” (which went to video). Although DiCaprio left the Marshak, Liedtke Gold agency (for CAA — from which he also departed), he continued commissioning ’em for two years. And there was word that he might re-sign with his original agents again.