GOOD MORNING: “Stalin,” “George Wallace” and next — “Fidel.” NBC has greenlighted a four-hour mini on Castro to be produced by Mark Carliner, who did the other two. Marshall Frady, who scripted “Wallace,” will reteam with Carliner on the Cuban dictator’ story. Frady spent time with Castro in 1989 on his visit to Cuba with Jesse Jackson. Carliner also bought Tad Szulc’s book “Fidel” for the project. It will be “hugely provocative,” promises Carliner, who achieved that same goal with the previous two telebiopix. He quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.” Of course they hope to be able to shoot in Cuba. He reminds, “When we started ‘Stalin,’ no one thought we had a prayer to shoot in Moscow.” But they did. Carliner is producing “Stephen King’s Storm of the Century,” a six-hour mini for “an extremely brave” ABC. It is King’s first original screenplay. The author is also an exec producer on the project and is on the Toronto location with Carliner. It may also be published in screenplay form. The $30 million mini stars Tim Daly in the personification of good and Colm Feore as evil. Directed by Craig Baxley, it will shoot in South West Harbor, Maine, after interiors in a former Toronto sugar beet factory, housing a set as long as a football field. Two-thirds of the story takes place in a howling, white-out blizzard (sure, many special FX), but the King story, sez Carliner, is basically character-driven and is about the battle for integrity — as are King’s “Shawshank Redemption” and “Stand By Me.”
FOOTPRINTS IN THE LA BREA TAR PITS? No one else but “Barney,” of course. April 3, the lovable dinosaur kicks off (excuse it) the national opening of the Polygram feature, “Barney’s Great Adventure: The Movie.” He will place his footprints in a “substance” at the front of the Page Museum at the tar pits on Wilshire Blvd. where “Barney” can look out at some of his mastodon relatives who are still immersed in the tar — a backdrop for the non-Hollywood Blvd. footprint event. It’s anticipated that many stars will attend, since their children are fans. Barney also will be “live” on stage at the RCMH, March 26-29 … The Coalition for Justice will honor Billy Friedkin for his Showtime/MGM “12 Angry Men” with a gala April 1 at the BevHilton. The pic furthers one of the major goals of the Coalition for Justice “by highlighting the importance of jury service.” It was established “to ensure the excellence of California’s judicial system in an era of dwindling financial resources” … Rosie O’Donnell got Dick Van Dyke to duet with her on tunes from “Mary Poppins” (1964) and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (1968) when he guested with her on a seg that airs Monday. Van Dyke, winding his fifth year starring in CBS’ “Diagnosis Murder,” will vacation in front of his computer –placing himself in scenes from “Jurassic Park,” “Lost Horizon” — and “Titanic” … Meredith MacRae, a board member of the National Council On Alcoholism (her father Gordon MacRae, an alcoholic, spent the last 10 years of his life on the board), will appear with Vin Scully and Oscar De La Hoya today at the Chamber of Commerce to intro a comic book, “Steps to A Drug Free Life,” designed for children aged 8-12. It’s funded by a grant from SHARE … “Michael Crawford in Concert” preems Sunday on KCET’s March Pledge Event, with Crawford and Lynn Redgrave live in studio for the pledge, and accepting greetings on KCET’s web page, http://www.kcet.org … Next big band following Jack Sheldon at Merv Griffin’s BevHilton Coconut Club is Ray Anthony’s co-ed aggregation bowing Friday. Rudy Regalado’s Latin group, Chevere continues, cha-cha-cha.
GRAMMY SIDE BENEFIT: Entertainment Weekly underwrote a “Grammy in the Schools” program, which brought in over 1,000 N.Y.-area high school kids to the Manhattan School of Music, Tuesday. The program: Boyz 2 Men, Bo Diddley and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval. Musical workshops followed, including one by pianist Peter Nero … Richard Dreyfuss joins the Carnegie Hall March 24 “Michael Kamen’s Opus” benefiting the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, founded by Kamen. It provides musical instruments to school children around the country. While the Carnegie Hall concert is earmarked for N.Y.-area schools, other concerts are being planned around the country. Kamen’s new album (London Records) will also be released next month … Lalo Schifrin’s “La Represion” preems at the American Composers’ Orch “Beyond Tango” concert at Carnegie Hall March 8; it’s part of his score from the feature “Tango” … Berlin Fest-winning producer (“Central Station”) Arthur Cohn has a two-pic pact with “Station” director Walter Salles; the first will be “Wait for Me,” a mystical love story set in Santa Fe and written by “Station” writer Joao Amanuel Carneiro, and the second is based on the French bestseller “La Folle Allure” by Christian Bobin … KABC-Radio’s Michael Jackson has been nominated for induction into the Radio Hall of Fame. Voting ends Aug. 1, inductees notified during the week of Aug. 4 and the induction ceremony in Chicago, Oct. 11 will be b’cast nationally.