Taylor gets close to God

GOOD MORNING: Elizabeth Taylor resumed her acting career Thursday, playing God’s girlfriend, Sarah. It’s for “God, the Devil and Bob,” Carsey-Werner’s entry into the animation field with the half-hour NBC series. It’s Taylor’s first time voicing a cartoon character since “The Simpsons”; plus, she played Pearl Slaghoople in the live-action bigscreen version of “The Flintstones” toon series. In his first time voicing a cartoon, Jim Garner does God; in the series, God was once tempted by the beautiful Sarah (the character is yet to be drawn) and meets up with her again. French Stewart voices Bob, a Detroit auto worker who is hand-picked by God to prove that mankind is still worth saving. The Devil, played by Alan Cumming, of course tries to detour God’s will. When Garner learned Wednesday that La Liz was to play his girlfriend, he was delighted: they’d never worked together but have been friends over the years through their mutual friend, the late Roddy McDowall. “I’m doing it because it’s so much fun,” she said Thursday. In the script, she calls God “Tiger.” Garner thinks the series is “hilarious.” Matthew Carlson, exec producer-head writer, said “We really needed someone amazing to play God’s girlfriend.” And they got her … Lynn Redgrave leaves her husband and runs off with her lawyer. No, it’s not a tabloid headline, but the plotline for the seg of Showtime’s “Rude Awakening” that’s shooting this week. The attorney is played by guestar Tim Curry. (Mark Lonow, father of series creator Claudia Lonow, plays Redgrave’s husband Max.) Redgrave returns for two more segs in Oct. and is plotted for next season. She, sister Vanessa Redgrave and mother Rachel Kempson team Saturday in readings (5:30 and 7:30) of Chekhov at the L.A. Central Library program hosted by Gregory Peck. “This is a summer bonus,” reminds Peck of his pet project. He narrates “From Russia to Hollywood: The 100-Year Odyssey of Chekhov and Shdanoff,” preeming at the Hollywood Film Fest Sunday at Par.

I’M GOING TO BE the female George Burns,” says Florence Henderson. “I’m going to work until I’m 99.” Among her many accomplishments, Florence worked as Burns’ last opening act in Vegas. She is now readying to leave L.A. Aug. 22 for the start of NBC’s “Later Today”; the series, bowing 9 ayem Labor Day, follows “Today.” She says, “I think I’ve been preparing for this all my life.” She has fans from 2-95 from all her showbiz endeavors, plus daily repeats of her family shows. Florence hopes this show “will also reach age groups which have been left by the wayside. I hope we (Jodi Applegate and Asha Blake) do a lot of issues interesting to men as well — and with male guests.” With the move to N.Y., her husband of 12 years, Dr. John Kappas, sails their boat through the Panama Canal, will take berths in Miami and N.Y. … L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, no stranger to (effective) appearances on TV, has been getting several bona fide offers — as an actor. But when Hizzoner leaves office, he’ll devote his talents to education … Capt. Connie Dial, commanding officer of the Hollywood Police Station, and her husband detective Jon Dial were retirement-partied Thursday night at Par’s N.Y. Street. Capt. Michael Downing is the new Hollywood C.O. … Joyce Aimee, L.A. County Commissioner of the Arts, unveils her pipes Aug. 9 at Hollywood Roosevelt’s Cinegrill, with the Algonquin beckoning her to N.Y. … Howard E. Green, VP of Disney Studio Communications (24 years), and wife Amy have written “Remembering Walt” (Hyperion), an emotional book about Disney by those who worked for him. It’s uncensored and a real insight into the man everyone thinks they knew.

A FIRST FEATURE FOR DAVID CHASE, “The Sopranos” exec producer: he’s written “If I Fell,” and Harvey Weinstein’s already fallen for it … Billy Crystal is honing his material (with Bruce Vilanch) for a one-man B’way stand. Billy actually started work on the show before “Analyze This.” The pic is such a smash that other film teamings with Robert De Niro are being talked, like a remake of “The In-Laws” … Hugh Hefner won his first thorobred race, a maiden. No, it wasn’t Playboy’s Hef, but a 2-year-old colt owned by Edward Racing Inc. and trained by Martin F. Jones. Hef didn’t even have a bet on him — he paid $7. A Trashy Lingerie fashion show at the Playboy Mansion benefits Operation USA following the preem Wednesday of Independent Artists’ “Love Stinks” at the Mann Festival … A memorial service for Ronnie Graham will be held 11 a.m. Sunday at the Improv on Melrose. Cohosting are Graham’s comedy pals in Yarmy’s Army and Mel Brooks, with whom Graham was working on a B’way-bound musicalized “The Producers” … Paul Dooley and Marion Ross starred in a successful staged reading of the musicalized “Dennis the Menace” at Garry Marshall’s Falcon Theater in Toluca Lake. Next year is the 50th anni of Hank Ketcham’s “Dennis” strip and Ernie Chambers is planning to bow it Off B’way. Aug. 13, Dooley returns to the Falcon with Second City alumni to read a new farce about movie-making, “Shoot” by Dan Castellaneta. Dooley then redons his judge’s robes in “The Practice.”

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