Douglas’ co. preps ‘Comeback’ pic

GOOD MORNING: Kirk Douglas and his production company, Bryna, are back. Douglas is readying to produce a fight film, “Comeback” and he’s met with Don King on the project. Douglas, who made his ring knockout “Champion” 50 years ago, would play a trainer. He lunched with King at the Grill and reports, “I want him to be a part of it; he has the real feeling for boxing, how it works, how deals are made — the nitty-gritty. He is a very interesting man. We even talked the Old Testament. But, when I asked him, ‘Maybe you’ll also get me a fight with Tyson?’ he said to me, ‘You want to lose another ear?’ ” — referring to Douglas’s role as Van Gogh in “Lust for Life.” Douglas says he’s had the “Comeback” script (by Cynthia Cherbak) for several years. George Englund would produce. “And there’s no problem getting the financing,” responded Douglas, 82. “When I did ‘Diamonds’ (in release later this year), I said to myself, ‘Hell, why don’t I make another picture?’ I had been slowed down by my stroke but now I have several ideas for scripts I’ve been talking about. It’s time for me to start another career!” Douglas’ “Comeback” would join these past Bryna pix: “Paths of Glory,” “The Indian Fighter,” “The Vikings,” “The Last Sunset,” “Lonely Are the Brave” and, of course, “Spartacus.”

MEDICAL UPDATES: ELIZABETH TAYLOR, after suffering a compression fracture of a vertebra during a fall in the dressing room of her home Thursday, has started physical therapy at Cedars-Sinai and has started to walk again. The pain is under control and her spirits are better. And it’s expected she may be released in four-five days … And Dick Crenna is back home, following surgery in Vail for rotator cuff, muscle and ligament repairs after a fall during the first day, in the first shot of Showtime’s “By Dawn’s Early Light.” The pic has been postponed until spring to keep Crenna as star of the very physical pic, which involves Crenna on a trail ride from Colorado to the ocean … Johnny Carson’s strong enough to play tennis again, and he and Alex made it from Malibu into BevHills to dine with Edie and Lew Wasserman at Mr Chow’s. Also there, at another end of the room, Larry Flynt. And adding a musical note: diners Rosemary Clooney and Diana Krall. Rosie, back from a Stuttgart concert, said, “Swing is back all over the continent.”

I’VE NEVER BEEN ROASTED — or even a roastee,” said Dick Van Dyke on the set of “The Roast,” the first seg of his seventh season on “Diagnosis Murder.” But Monday, Van Dyke was indeed the subject of a roast — during which a murder is committed on one of the following guestars in this seg: Steve Allen, Jayne Meadows, Tim Conway, Ruth Buzzi, Norm Crosby, Julia Duffy, David Leisure, Dick Martin and Tom Poston. One of ’em is stabbed in the back. “Only in a Hollywood roast could someone be stabbed in the back,” laughed exec producer Chris Abbott, who promises there’ll be more “cat-and-mouse” episodes in the coming season, giving Van Dyke an opportunity to have suspects trick ’emselves (like you-know-which TV sleuth). Abbott, making her season bow on the show, is no stranger to the genre, with credits on “Cagney & Lacey” and “Magnum P.I.”; new writers Steve Brown and Joel Steiger have backgrounds in “Murder, She Wrote,” “Columbo,” ‘Cagney & Lacey” and “Perry Mason” and “Matlock” respectively. If you’ve noted that this group is a well-seasoned creative writing-producing team, Abbott laughingly noted, “The talk around the water cooler for this group is retirement plans. And that’s why I dye my hair!” Seriously folks, she reminds, “Writers get better by making their experiences count and by expressing them.” The seventh season of “Diagnosis” will also give Van Dyke a love interest: Joanna Cassidy. Will they get married? “Marriage is a death knell,” noted series-experienced Van Dyke. But, he says, “This is my last season, for sure.” Like he said last season, and the one before, and … The season bows 8 p.m., Sept. 23 on CBS.

DONALD TRUMP AND “The Miss America Pageant” love Branson. For a second consecutive year they’ve chosen the Missouri site’s Grand Palace. CBS will again carry it … Add to your websightings: Georges Marciano and Julie Carson will launch, described as the “most prestigious, high-end auction site on the Internet today with one-of-a-kind items ranging from fine Andy Warhol paintings, rare Ferraris — and original, signed movie posters.” Marciano sold Guess? in 1993 “to pursue international interests as a real estate developer and luxury-goods collector” … Esther Williams is lunched at Elaine’s Sept. 14 by Simon & Schuster’s David Rosenthal and Chuck Adams on publication of her autobio, “Million Dollar Mermaid,” cowritten by Digby Diehl … The Sportsmen’s Lodge is the site for the new season of Pacific Pioneer B’casters’ award luncheons, kicking off Sept. 24 with Jack McQueen re-elected as president, with his board returning as well. Jean DeVivier Brown continues as chairperson in charge of the entertainment for the 800-member org … It’s also nostalgia time at the Sportsmen’s Lodge Sept. 26 for the 1999 Jivin’ Jacks and Jills 16th annual reunion of over 250 stars from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. Gary Bell and Michael Fitzgerald cohost. The Jacks and Jills are the dancers who worked in many of Universal’s musicals. It’s a haven for collectors of vintage, autographed stills, and viewing original movie clips and costumes.

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