GOOD MORNING: Judy, Judy Judy! Latest news on Garlandia —Annette Bening is on top of the list to be pitched for the lead in “Rainbow’s End,” which Fox Searchlight has put on the fast track. Producer Dan Halsted is set to sign Bronwen Hughes (“Forces of Nature”) to direct the pic, based on the book (William Morrow) by Daily Variety‘s Steve Sanders. Fox greenlighted Jon Maas’ script, which focuses on the behind-the-scenes story of Garland’s disastrous early-’60s weekly CBS variety series. I know: I was there to interview Garland on closed-circuit, to press around the country, as she was launching the series. Waiting for Judy to appear for the interview was a picture of things to come. Oliver Stone and Judy’s ex-husband Sid Luft are exec producers of “Rainbow’s.” Luft has approved the script. He owns Judy’s TV-series soundtracks, which would be sync’d by whoever plays the role. … Steve Sanders and Tom Gilbert’s “Desilu” (Morrow) was optioned by Platinum Prods. (the 12-hour O.J. trial, “Outrage”). Planned are a Lucie Arnaz-approved docu, plus a feature film bio of Lucy and Desi. … Meanwhile, Lorna Luft’s “Me And My Shadow” (Pocket Books) has a new approved script by Kirk Ellis for a three-hour ABC’er for ColTriStar TV from producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron; all that remains is an OK of the licensing fee from ABC. A June start is hoped for. Judy Davis is to star as Garland; while waiting for the greenlight for the past year, Davis completed two features. This Garland TV’er will be shot in Australia, where Zadan-Meron had a great experience with “The Three Stooges”. … As for Gerald Clarke’s “Get Happy” Garland bio, don’t ask Sid Luft’s opinion. He’s not going to court. He tried it once vs. David Shipman, author of “The Secret Life of an American Legend”; Luft went up to the appellate courts only to find, he says, that he’s a public figure and he was unable to prove malice.
SORRY TO REPORT THAT Walter Matthau and Billy Wilder are hospitalized — with quite different maladies. Matthau has been well enough to occasionally wheelchair from his room, down the hospital corridor, to visit/cheer his friend/director. … Can Cannes help the fight against cancer and AIDS? On May 17 at 11:30 p.m. at Les Allees (the park across from Le Vieux Port), QVC’s Cure By the Shore will air the silent auction (also live at the Port) for the National Women’s Cancer Research Alliance, for the early diagnosis and treatment of breast and ovarian cancer. Sela Ward hosts the event headed by Lilly Tartikoff, Richard Lovett, Jeffrey Berg and Jim Wiatt. It marks a union of the Entertainment Industry Foundation and QVC. Lilly notes, “The Hollywood community takes on a global vision with this event. And it takes a globe to find a cure.” And on May 18, Elizabeth Taylor and Elton John are the honorary co-chairs of AmFAR’s Cinema Against AIDS 200 benefit gala at the Palm Beach, sponsored by Miramax and Victoria’s Secret and co-sponsored by Moderna.com. … Tartikoff will again head the (10th) Fire and Ice Ball, Dec. 11, at the BevHilton this year rather than at a studio. “It’s back to our beginnings,” she notes. “It will be a celebration in terms of the community support.” It honors Ronald Perelman, the supporter of the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program, which led to the FDA’s approval of Herceptin. Suzan (Mrs. Don) Mischer again produces the Fire and Ice Ball.
THREE CONTINENTS IN TWO WEEKS: Last week, the Berlin Philharmonic was conducted by (the Hollywood Bowl’s) John Mauceri in Kurt Weill’s first opera, “The Protagonist.” Weill fled the Nazis in 1935. Mauceri continued on to Tel Aviv to conduct “The Eternal Road,” the biblical opera Weill wrote with Franz Werfel after his flight to freedom. It hadn’t been produced in its entirety since 1935 until the first production in Chemnitz, Germany last June. On to Israel, Mauceri conducted “Eternal Road” with a chorus of 120 there from Chemnitz, 100 from the Krakow Opera, 45 Israeli singers and an orchestra of 75. (Many of the Israeli musicians, emigres from Russia, had never heard of Weill!) The visiting (European) singers were toured to the biblical sites of the opera. Winding his trek this week, Mauceri’s in Atlanta conducting Weill’s “The Seven Deadly Sins” (Thurs.-Sat.), with Audra McDonald singing. She will also sing at his 200th concert at the Hollywood Bowl, July 8. On June 23, he batons the Bowl’s gala honoring two of his good friends, John Williams and Garth Brooks. … Scripter Lila Garrett, president of the SoCal ADA, held a reception for Ralph Nader, Monday at her home. Nader, the Green Party’s presidential candidate, spoke about the “privatization of America.” Among those on hand: Pat Caddell, writer on “West Wing” who was a writer for Jimmy Carter; Arianna Huffington; Eliza and Eric Roberts, etc. … Samantha Eggar is N.Y.-bound to play Finola Hughes’ mother in ABC’s “All My Children” … WB’s “Harry Potter” initial casting call will be posted by casting director Susie Figgis on http://www.HarryPotter.net. She’s looking for a boy between the ages of nine and 11.