GOOD MORNING: It’s a jungle out there. I’m not talking about Hollywood, I’m talking about the real jungle — in French Guiana. “It’s where insects are the size of tennis shoes, they are so large they are on the crew and help move cables. Anteaters come in sizes large, X-large and XX-large. The ‘takes’ are interrupted by someone yelling ‘kill it’ when the scorpions get too close, where parasites have an entirely new meaning, the temperature ranges from 110 — and up — and it gets so humid I have to change my makeup 15 times a day!” That’s Richard Dreyfuss talking from the location of “The Old Man Who Read Stories.” The company films 90 minutes outside of Cayenne, French Guiana. He costars with Cathy Tyson in the Rolf de Heer-directed Pandora indie produced by Michelle de Boca. Dreyfuss alerts us with, “You won’t recognize me” — as he plays the “old man.” Howcm he left the comfy confines of Beverly Hills for this pic — in which he doesn’t even have a percentage? “This film is so tender. It’s a beautiful script — about an old man and a prostitute who live in this God-forsaken place where I have to go up the river to kill a jaguar with a blowgun. And I work with a real jaguar! He’s wise and has his head on his shoulders — not like me! And I really aspire to this character.” Playing different roles is Dreyfuss’ delight — from his Oscar-winning performance in “The Goodbye Girl” to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” his nominated “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” And his upcoming “The Crew” with fellow veteran thesp Burt Reynolds in which they play (former) old-time gangsters. They shot that one in the comforts of Miami! Dreyfuss will recup from this current experience by vacationing at Christmas with his children — in Paris.
GARTH BROOKS CAN THANK BING CROSBY for one of the songs on his (Brooks’) new album, “The Magic of Christmas” (Capitol). When Bing was filming “The Lemmon Drop Kid” at Paramount in 1950, he ran into Jay Livingston and Ray Evans who were writing on the lot. “Got a Christmas song for me?” he asked the tune twosome. It was almost too good to hear — a request from Bing for a song! They created “Silver Bells” which Der Bingle launched in the pic. To date, records on which the song appears have sold more than 160 million copies — plus sheet music over five decades! Neither Livingston nor Evans knew about their new Christmas present — until I called them … Today’s appearance at the MPAA by Kirk Douglas to make an appeal for a rating change on Miramax’s “Diamonds” to “PG-13” from “R” is not the first of such ratings appeals by him. Back in 1973 he appealed on his (directed-starred) “Scalawag” — in which he played a one-legged scalawag and Danny DeVito costarred. Douglas won a “G” rating for it. Today, Kirk says “‘Diamonds’ definitely warrants a PG-13. And when I feel strongly about something I express it. But people have a right to disagree — and I will abide by the MPAA ratings board. The pic has no violence, language or nudity but it has settings in a house of ill repute — where the worst anyone says is, ‘I want to get laid.’ But it’s a comedy,” Douglas also reminds.
THERE WASN’T A DRY EYE IN THE HOUSE — the BevWilshire, that is, Tuesday night when Warner Bros. TV president Peter Roth and wife Andrea accepted the ERAS Center’s first “Champion of the Children” award. The Roth’s daughter Erica, 18 attends the ERAS Center where she started at the age of 6. Erica is autistic. The Roths applauded the center and its guiding light, spirit and force, Barbara Cull, who has helped thousands of children with learning disabilities, children “at risk,” etc. into meaningful lives. The evening raised $450,000 to help launch a new center — Tuesday night the May Foundation contributed another $50,000. David E. Kelley, who made the presentation to the Roths, opened with, “There are so many horrible people in this industry — some of you are with us tonight,” but then went on to compliment the Roths. M.C. Garry Shandling was introduced by Steve Tisch as, “My fifth best friend — less of a good friend than Brad Grey!” to whom Shandling answered with, “You’re just a talented, rich man!” Shandling went on to comment about Viagra. “I made love for an hour and five minutes — but that was the night we pushed the clocks an hour ahead” plus a question he asked his doctor about a burning sensation — you can guess where. Stephen Bishop and the young Rock Theater group also generously entertained. WB TV stars on hand included: Noah Wyle with fiancee Tracy Warbin (wearing a new sparkler — they’ve moved into the Bo Derek ranch), along with fellow “ER”-ers Goran Visnjic, Paul McCrane and Kellie Martin; Brooke Shields happily showing her affection for her new love, writer Chris Henchy; Markie Post, Rob Estes, Erik Palladino, Nikki Cox and comedian Bobcat Goldthwait. And many WB and net exex. ERAS board chairman Paul Zimmerman announced the Dec. 18 opening of the newly built ERAS Center on the site a former drive-in theater in Culver City … The Zegna Sport line launching on Rodeo Drive for CAN (Cure Autism Now) raised $100,000 with sports and showbiz celebs competing — the John Elway and Anthony Edwards teams tied in the fun competition.