Redgrave, Dench still finding plum roles

GOOD MORNING: It’s a good day when you talk to Oscar-nominated Lynn Redgrave (“Gods and Monsters”) and Judi Dench (“Shakespeare in Love”) in rapid succession. Both ladies exude enthusiasm for the bizness — and they act it! Redgrave was winging to England for the opening of “Gods” in which she plays a ( hardly recognizable) Hungarian housekeeper and then starts rehearsals for her next, film, “Annihilation of Fish” with James Earl Jones and Margot Kidder. Redgrave and Jones have a bittersweet romance at the finale of the film which she describes as “surreal, funny and sad.” And she also sings — “some snatches” of “Madame Butterfly.” Redgrave has had some B’way experience singing — “but NEVER Puccini!” she admits … Of course, Redgrave will be at the Oscars — and at the SAG Awards this Sunday as well … And, already in England, Dench had just wound work that day on her latest James Bond’ing, as “M” in “The World Is Not Enough” in scenes with Pierce Brosnan at Pinewood. She admitted she couldn’t reveal anything about the always-secret project, but laughingly allowed, “It’s more physical than the last times. I’m in hot water in a very sticky situation. And it’s huge fun.” Let your imagination run wild! She also says her role has been expanded. “In the first (Bond), I worked three days, then five days (on “Tomorrow Never Dies”) — now 12!” She happily didn’t have to undergo daily, four-hour makeup transformations as she did to become Queen Elizabeth in “Shakespeare in Love.” “But,” she said, “the good thing about it was — I only got better looking the more that was taken off!” Dench, too, will be here for the Oscars and the next day, March 22, she starts rehearsals in N.Y. for David Hare’s “Amy’s View,” her first time on B’way in 30 years. It opens April 15 and will play until July 18. She also just wound “Filumena” in rep on London’s boards.

VITAL STATISTICS: Phyllis Diller (81) is hospitalized awaiting a pacemaker as she recupes from a mild heart attack. Her longtime (20 years) manager Milt Suchin assures us that Diller is panting “to do a show in the hospital cafeteria downstairs.” She’d been hospitalized only once before — for a fractured hip. What about her many plastic surgeries? “She’d stop and do them on her way home” … Happy grandparents Greg and Veronique Peck called to tell us their daughter Cecilia and her best friend Daniel Voll had welcomed son Harper (for Harper Lee) Daniel Voll Feb. 27 at N.Y.’s Lenox Hill Hospital. The Pecks remain in N.Y. for two more weeks with family before returning to L.A. En route home, Greg will do his (illustrated) talks in Dayton Beach, Ft. Lauderdale and Galveston, Texas. He says he’ll taper off this year, having done 60 of those (sold out) biographical shows — on the urging of pal Cary Grant — who had ditto’d … It was a happy Donald O’Connor on the phone from Palm Springs. He’s out of the hospital and recuping at their condo — and says he’ll make the desert his home. He’s now undergoing physical therapy as well as some on his voice following the lengthy hospital stay post-pneumonia. O’Connor (73) says he will go back to work — “But I’m not thinking about it right now,” he laughed … Sunday at the Moonlight, the late Bobby Troup was remembered by family (wife Julie London, six children and grandchildren) and friends including five reps of the black Marine Corps company from Camp Montford Pt., N. C., with whom he fought as a captain in WWII. Of course the music community was fully repped including the big Jack Sheldon band, the Songwriters Guild including Ray Evans and Jay Livingston, fellow U. of Penn. alums, Neil Hefti, Lou Levy, the Page Cavanaugh Trio, Al Viola, Les Brown, Donald Kahn, Herm Saunders, Vic Mizzy and Rosemary Clooney who winged in from Denver. When she sang “My Buddy” there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

SHE COULD WRITE THE BOOK! Anne Nelson, celebrating as CBS’ longest-tenured employee (54 years) on the Coast, has been promoted to vice president, business affairs, for CBS Entertainment. Les Moonves calls her, “The soul of CBS.” During her years, Nelson has been involved with stars starting with Robert Benchley, and including Lucille Ball, Red Skelton, and among series, “Hawaii Five-O,” Gunsmoke,” “Rawhide,” “Wild Wild West,” Perry Mason,” etc. … Roy Christopher who will design this year’s Oscars (12th time) won for his design of last year’s (70th Oscars) at the Society of Motion Picture and TV Art Directors gala at the BevHilton … John Forsythe receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Pioneer B’casters March 19 at the Sportsmen’s Lodge. Forsythe started in the biz as sports announcer for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field … Cyd Charisse received Loyola U’s. Dept. of Theatre Arts and Dance’s “First Light, Early Light Award” for her inspiration “to so many who might never have become a dancer had they not seen her” … Talia Balsam and John Slattery who were married Dec. 30 in Kauai, will celebrate with friends and family Saturday in a party in a loft in New York. Balsam, daughter of Joyce Van Patten and the late Martin Balsam, has a recurring role in “L.A. Doctors.” She was formerly wed to George Clooney. Slattery has a lead role in Lifetime’s “Maggie” series.

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