GOOD MORNING: Britain’s Prince Edward will head the TV royalty at the vid/crix press tour July 13-14 at the Ritz-Carlton in Pasadena. He’s here, under the billing of Edward Windsor, as host of the “Crown & Country” PBS series of historical English locations, including Windsor Castle, Sandringham and Bury St. Edmonds. HRH is also director of production for Ardent Prods. Ltd. KCET will air the series in L.A. starting Sept. 27 with a two-hour seg, followed by six 30-min. shows … Elizabeth Taylor’s return to work in “The Visit” for Robert Halmi is now “almost certainly set for fall,” says Elizabeth’s longtime agent Robby Lantz, who took a meeting with Halmi just before the latter took off for Budapest and “Crime and Punishment” starring Ben Kingsley, Patrick Dempsey and Julie Delpy, with Joe Sargent directing. As for reports “The Visit” would be Taylor’s farewell film, Lantz assured, “Like Sarah Bernhardt, you can expect 10 years of ‘farewells’ from Elizabeth.” He assured us that she is “in a good mood to work — in a good script with good director and co-stars, and she is tired of ‘guest’ appearances. They are very boring.” When reached in Budapest, Halmi confirmed this and said he is hoping for a November start. “I hope she doesn’t decide to retire before that.” Well, if she does, she’ll still have nine more “farewells” to give. Between bites of his goulash dinner, Halmi was able to add “The Bible” to his sked, with Richard Attenborough to produce the 12 hours, direct at least one and perhaps also star in one story. Another of Halmi’s extraordinary minis will be “The Arabian Nights,” this one for ABC. He leaves Budapest for Morocco and “Cleopatra” pre-production, and Ireland for “The Animal Farm.” In London, he’ll ready the three-hour NBC “Alice in Wonderland” to star Martin Short as the Mad Hatter, Miranda Richardson as the Queen of Hearts, and Ben Kingsley as the Caterpillar. Nick Willing directs.
IT’S ALL IN THE FAMILY for Michele Lee’s “Jacqueline Susann” for the USA network. She set ex-husband Jim Farentino to play Susann’s publisher Bernard Geist, and their son David Farentino to also play a role. Peter Reigert plays Susann’s husband Irving Mansfield. Interestingly, Reigert once dated Bette Midler, who is starring in the feature version of Jackie’s life, “Isn’t She Great.” Bruce McDonald directs the Lee version and among the transformations (she looks amazingly Jackie-ish) she had to learn to smoke — chain smoke! I saw her smoking tests. Pretty funny! … Carroll O’Connor is home and AOK after carotid artery surgery: he sounded great on the phone and returns to work looping “Gideon” … The re-publication of Brian Epstein’s autobio, “A Cellarful of Noises” (Rhino, Non-Fiction, 19) with a new intro by Martin Lewis will be celebrated Thursday at the Hard Rock at Universal’s City Walk following the ditto party at N.Y.’s Hard Rock. On hand here will be Alan Livingston, who was responsible as head of Capitol Records for signing the Fab Four after they were turned down by every major label — including previously by Capitol! Livingston told me, “There would not have been the Beatles without Brian. He convinced me to sign them and to spend $40,000 to promote their first album.” Their first song? “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” After first hearing it, Livingston says he told wife Nancy Olson, “This song is going to change the music bizness.” While in London earlier this month, Livingston taped portions of the BBC’s 19-hour radio docu of Epstein’s life … Walter Shenson, who produced the Beatles’ pix “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help,” is readying a comedy, “Born to Suffer” with screenwriter John Paragon directing. He acted in Shenson’s “Echo Park.”
HONORING CHUCK JONES’ 85th (!) birthday, WB and the Motion Picture/TV Fund dedicate the Jones “Wishing-You-Well” Stream at the MPTF Toluca Lake Health Center this morning followed by a lunch in the WB exec dining room. Of course, Bugs Bunny will be on hand, along with Chuck and Marion Jones, Roger Mayer and other MPTF exex. Chuck has donated many pieces of his animation art at MPTF events to benefit those in need. (P.S. Jones’ actual birthday was last Sept. 21) … Jerry Herman, back from his Carnegie Hall appearance for the tribute to Judy Garland, says, “I’m now going into training” for his own B’way bow in “An Evening With Jerry Herman” at the Booth July 28. The Manny Kladitis-Jon Wilner-produced show will run through Sept. 26. Leroy Reams and Florence Lacey join Jerry, who’s 66 … Joanna Gleason and Chris Sarandon, who met on B’way in “Nick and Nora,” will reteam in Michael Patrick King’s “Thorn & Bloom” at the Court in L.A. July 9. Sarandon plays Jesus Christ, Gleason a budding soul … Drai’s is celebrating its fifth anniversary and expanding music nights from Mondays to Fridays as well, with Zen Dadio bowing June 26 … David Hasselhoff will serve as honorary Guest Ringmaster at Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey’s “Greatest Show on Earth” celeb family night, July 22 at the L.A. Sports Arena, with all proceeds going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.