O’Donnel’s banner preps ‘Y2K’ thriller

GOOD MORNING: President Clinton included this warning in his State of the Union speech: “We also must be ready for the 21st century from its very first moment by solving the so-called ‘Y2K’ computer problem.” He continued, “Remember, this is a big problem and we’ve been working hard on it. We need every state and local government, every business large and small, to work with us to make sure that this Y2K computer bug will be remembered as the last headache of the 20th century, not the first crisis of the 21st.” Well, today WB gets a ready-to-go script of “Y2K” from George Street Prods.’ Chris O’Donnell and Bing Howenstein. I spoke to O’Donnell Wednesday ayem, on the Hancock Park location of New Line’s “The Bachelor”; he stars in and exec produces the pic, with Howenstein and Lloyd Segan producing and Gary Sinyor directing. O’Donnell said, “I hope WB heard him (Clinton) make those remarks. Our script is ready to shoot and if we get their greenlight, we’ll start in May in N.Y. It’s definitely do-able — to get out in time and at a comfortable budget.” He says they have already utilized all the experts on logistics and possibilities of the potential computer glitch. He describes the pic as a thriller … O’Donnell is bringing movie history up to date in “Bachelor,” a ’99 version of Buster Keaton’s 1925 silent “Seven Chances.” In the New Line pic, O’Donnell’s grandfather, played by Peter Ustinov (here for a one-day cameo), bequeaths O’Donnell $100 million if he marries before his 30th birthday — which is only a day away! In the original pic, reviewed by Variety March 18, 1925, Keaton was to receive $7 million if he married by 7 p.m. of that day. Variety reviewer Lait. wrote, “Keaton worked straight, minus tramp clothes and low comedy methods. But the film (which he also directed) had a chase, probably one of the best ever screened.” And added, the movie “doesn’t look like it cost a million to make.” “Bachelor” just returned from SanFran locations, where O’Donnell was chased by 1,000 (not computer-generated, but real 1,000) would-be brides before hitching up with Renee Zellweger. In addition to Ustinov, the pic also boasts guestings by Mariah Carey, Brooke Shields, Edward Asner, Hal Holbrook — and James Cromwell as the priest.

FROM THE REAL-LIFE ACTION in Washington to the make-believe in Hollywood: “Art” first-niters at the Doolittle, having earlier watched the Clinton speech, arrived just in time for a delayed curtain. Among the celebrity crowd was former First Lady Nancy Reagan, who came with longtime friends Harriet and Ardie Deutsch. The latter are close friends of Joan and Joe Cullen; she’s one of the play’s producers, along with David Pugh and Sean Connery. And yes, Nancy loved the play — as did the rest of the audience, which gave the three stars an instantaneous and prolonged standing ovation at the finale, as well as generous applause and laughter throughout. And talking “generous,” Connery always reminds that it was wife Micheline who brought the play to his attention to produce. Gordon Davidson, artistic director/producer of the Ahmanson/Mark Taper Forum, said the play has a record $2 million advance and would like to keep it at the Doolittle with another cast after the current three leads depart in eight weeks (just as the play continues in N.Y. with their replacement casts). Who would Davidson like to see follow in “Art”? For one, he’d like Sidney Poitier. Meanwhile, if you didn’t see Alan Alda, Victor Garber and Alfred Molina in N.Y., be sure to catch them at the Doolittle. Before they step on stage, the trio meet a half-hour before the curtain in a “Green Room” created from the star dressing room offstage where they interact with each other, like the pals they soon play on stage.

ANGELA LANSBURY BOWED OUT of “David Copperfield” in order to remain close to daughter Deidre (Mrs. Vincenzo) Battarra, who underwent a liver transplant and remained in ICU for a month. Sally Field will star as “Copperfield’s” Aunt Betsey, Michael Richards as Micawber in the Charles Dickens classic mini for Hallmark and TNT … Nathan Lane and David Paymer read “The Odd Couple” to an audience at the Skirball Cultural Center through Sunday of this week in an LA Theater Works production to air on KCRW … On Jan. 22, the Museum of Tolerance will again screen Miramax’s “Life Is Beautiful,” this time with students from Grover Cleveland High School Humanities Magnet and Hamilton High Humanities Magnet. Roberto Benigni will again be on hand, to speak to the youngsters following the screening, which is SRO … At tonight’s Museum of TV & Radio private screening of “Celebrity Weddings in Style” (8 p.m. Monday on ABC): bride Vivica A. Fox and groom R&B singer Christopher Harvest, plus Tisha Campbell Martin, who sang at the ceremony … CBS airs the “NFL All-Star Comedy Blitz” Jan. 30, with Sheryl Crowe performing for the showbiz-sports crowd … Congrats to Carole Horst, a senior editor at Daily Variety, and Miles Horst, animation producer at Spumco, who welcomed their first child, Josephine Anne H. Jan. 19 … Producer Larry Thompson sez the Feb. 22 ABC air date of “And the Beat Goes On: The Sonny and Cher Show” would have marked the 13th anni of — Sonny and Mary Bono.

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