GOOD MORNING: With the LAPD under fire, someone in showbiz is coming forward to say a few thousand positive words in their defense: Sgt. Joe Friday. “Just the Facts Ma’am” (H.S. Publishing) is, of course, the story of Jack Webb, the star and/or creator of “Dragnet,” “Adam-12,” “Emergency,” “The D.I.,” and other works including “Pete Kelly’s Blues” and “Project UFO.” The book, written by Daniel Moyer and Eugene Alvarez and dedicated to Webb’s daughter Stacey Webb (killed in a tragic auto accident two years ago) has been acquired for representation by Bernie Weitzman and Herm Saunders of Sussex Management — who also plan to be involved in the biopic production. Universal gets first look. Saunders’ history with Webb dates to their 1942(!) Air Corps days in Santa Ana. Saunders was also best man at Webb’s marriage to Jackie Loughery. (Webb’s other wives were Julie London, Dorothy Towne and his widow, Opal Webb.) Weitzman came on the scene with Webb when Weitzman was VP and general manager of Universal. While Webb shows the LAPD in its best light, his life will be shown with all his warts. He died of a heart attack Dec. 23, 1982, at 62 … Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”) will be back on B’way, April 19 at the Cort Theatre with “The Green Bird,” written (in Italian) by Carlo Gozzi, and music by Elliot Goldenthal. The play is executive produced by Bill Haber’s Ostar Enterprises. It’s in the same theater where Haber had his success with “Freak.” Taymor first directed the show in March 1996 for the Theater for a New Audience, which was a home to Taymor for several years. “Green Bird” was a perfect warm-up for “Lion King” as it sallies forth into enchanted forests with far-out costumes and characters winding through the (sexy) fairytale — complete with a happy ending as the Green Bird evolves into a prince. At the first outing in the 499-seat Victory theater, Daily Variety‘s reviewer Jeremy Gerard called it “one of the triumphs of the season.” B’way’s Cort has nearly double that capacity: 1,083 seats.
RICHARD PRYOR IS SALUTED TONIGHT on his 59th birthday by Jennifer Lee and Eddie Griffin. Griffin will play Pryor in the biopic prepped by Brillstein-Grey, with script being written by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Lee who was wed to Pryor and is his friend (23 years), will produce the pic. She’s also busy recovering Pryor’s early records, which have been out there illegally. Of the biopic, she says, “We all know about his drugs, drinking, women, but his life is not about that; he was a frontiersman — it will show his legacy.” Pryor received a standing ovation when he taped his “cold opening” for Norm McDonald’s ‘The Norm Show” seg which aired this week on ABC. While he has MS and is wheelchaired, Pryor can still work in limited ways. Mitzi Shore has an idea for Pryor and Muhammad Ali — plus the latter’s two daughters — to star in a sitcom set in a gym … Rock ‘n’ roll legend Little Richard celebrates his 67th birthday Dec. 5. His NBC biopic “The Little Richard Story” is in production with Robert Townsend directing and Leon (“The Temptations”) playing Richard. It’s to air in February … Wayne Rogers was tickled to read in TV Guide that he and his “MASH” buddy Alan Alda were cited as a “favorite couple” in TV history. He says, “It made me remember how much fun acting was.” So he’s now costarring with Bo Derek in “Jack Mize,” filming in the wilds of New Brunswick. He also accepted the role because it was a rare chance to play a heavy. It lured him (briefly) from his post as CEO of Swiftyserve — with 500 locations and nearly 5,000 employees. He also heads a group that purchased Brooklyn’s wedding emporium, Kleinfeld’s. Wayne and his Stargazer Prods. partners Amy Rogers and Bill Tennant are wrapping their indie feature, “Nobody Knows Anything” with Mike Myers, Janeane Garofalo, Ben Stiller, Kristen Johnston, Robert Englund, “SNL’s” Tim Meadows and Wayne among the cameos.
EXCITE @HOME AND EIF (the Entertainment Industry Foundation) team to raise awareness for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Intl. with a giant “Hollywood Garage Sale” hoping to raise a million-$ for the JDF on Excite’s website starting in the spring. The fundraising for Juvenile Diabetes is announced, appropriately, at Sunday’s preem of “Stuart Little” … The family-style Christmas specials are upon us: Saturday it’s CBS’ “Amy Grant — A Christmas to Remember,” a Jeff Margolis production; Sunday, on ABC it’s “A Very Rosie Christmas” Rosie O’Donnell’s holiday show from producer Walter C. Miller with Rosie duetting with Donny Osmond, Rosemary Clooney, Celine Dion, etc. — and a parody of “A Chorus Line” … What makes everyone want to ballroom dance? It’s “Burn the Floor: A Great Performance” bowing on PBS Sunday, with its world tour launched at the U Amphi in March en route to RCMH … Heading to N.Y. from L.A. for Liza’s “Minnelli on Minnelli” Dec. 8 bow at the Palace: Lee Minnelli, Sid Luft and wife Camille, brother Joey Luft and a contingent of longtime Liza Coast pals. Look for more teaming of Liza with Judy Garland in a Sid Luft-planned PBSpecial, “Duets” wherein Liza intros her mom’s duets with Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin, Mel Torme, Count Basie, Ethel Merman — and Liza.