For Fisher, gay friends are ‘Normal’

GOOD MORNING: Joely Fisher, who played the best friend of the gay “Ellen” (Ellen DeGeneres), now is the sister of John Goodman, who plays the gay “Butch” in the “Normal, Ohio” series (which preems Nov. 1 on the Fox network). “There must be something about me,” laughs Fisher. She describes “Normal” about “real, crazy and dysfunctional people. Fox has the corner on the market for those kind of shows!” In the series, Butch came out of the closet four years earlier and divorced his wife (the mother of his two children). Joely plays the single mother of a teenage son and daughter, “and I’m sexy and sassy.” In real life, Joely (who is married to cinematographer Christopher Duddy) is childless; so what happens if she becomes pregnant? “Well, I’m not planning to — but if it happens, it can happen on this show. Meanwhile my mother (Connie Stevens) keeps nudging me!” The multi-talented Fisher came off a year on the road and B’way starring in “Cabaret” and then began work on the series “Grosse Pointe” for the WB (preems Friday), playing a TV series producer. But she was wooed away by Carsey/Werner for “Normal” and now will appear on only four “Pointes” — ostensibly leaving her TV producing role to do features, she laughs. The effervescent Fisher started work Monday, having participated Sunday in a triathlon to benefit Pediatric AIDS. Joely, who did a turn in “Grease” during an “Ellen” hiatus, reminds that stage work “is the foundation for all of this (TV series work).” Although she did admit fearing that after a year-long absence (from the stage) that the “flavor (player?) of the month” would be in her place. No such thing happened, as per her two series … Meanwhile, her mom Connie Stevens launches her first record label, Babylon Records, with N.Y. partner Dennis Lambert. Connie’s first discovery is teen heartthrob Christian Davis whose album “Aiming for the Heart” is released later this month. He opens for Christina Aguilera at the U Amphitheatre here Oct. 11; Connie, Joely and sister Tricia Fisher will host a Hollywood welcome party for him at Cyrano after the show. Connie, as you may remember, is also a singer and was under contract to WB Records; her CD’s now to be released by the Playboy label as “Connie Stevens’ Greatest Hits.” Stevens, who produced the film docu “A Healing,” about the women who served in the Vietnam War, wings to Switzerland at the invitation of the Swiss Embassy and the U.S. government to join a special summit of women delegates to discuss international women’s issues. She’ll produce and direct another docu, this one about the historic summit. “A Hearing” will be featured at the Sun Valley Film Fest, Oct. 26-29.

A MILLION DOLLARS WAS RAISED at Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s annual Hole in the Wall Gang camp benefit at Ashford, Conn. Paul and Joanne were joined by Tony Randall, Alec Baldwin and Eartha Kitt in a takeoff of “The Mikado”; Cy Coleman wrote/performed a special song in the show produced by A.E. Hotchner. Jerry Seinfeld came up from N.Y. to perform at the SRO show … The weekend in L.A. found a cheering audience Sunday at the GCC Avco in Westwood for the screening of Universal Focus’ “Billy Elliot,” the touching story of an English coal miner’s son who is entranced by ballet. Talk magazine and the Performing Arts Center of L.A. County hosted. The screening was followed by a Q&A with the pic’s director Stephen Daldry and star, 11-year-old Jamie Bell … Saturday night, WB unveiled its “New Millennium, a New Era” with a party on the lot. WBTV prez Peter Roth headed the list of execs and producers including “West Wing’s” Emmy-winner Aaron Sorkin. New series stars taking a bow included Mykelti Williamson (“The Fugitive”), Michael Richards, Ryan Stiles (“Whose Line is it Anyway?”), Lauren Graham and the cast of the new WB Network drama “The Gilmore Girls,” the cast of “Hype,” Bohdi Elfman and his wife Jenna Elfman, “Bull” cast member Garrett Morris and Garcelle Beauvais (“The Jamie Foxx Show”) … And at Friday night’s season opening benefit for the Center Theater Group, chaired by Richard Thomas, Diane Morton and Richard Massman, alumni honored August Wilson (“King Hedley II”), Laurence Fishburne and Roscoe Lee Brown; Brian Dennehy arrived after his perf of “Death of a Salesman.” Gordon Davidson announced proceeds would finance two new playwrights in the CTG youth program … Gloria Stuart, who celebrated her 90th birthday July 4, gets her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Sept. 27 near the Egyptian Theater. She says, “I am so thrilled; I remember my parents taking me to the opening of that theater” in 1922, with Douglas Fairbanks starring in “Robin Hood!” Stuart who played a centenarian (101) in “Titanic,” is 112 for Angela Lansbury’s latest “Murder, She Wrote” titled “The Last Free Man” about the underground railroad co-starring Phylicia Rashad. Stuart says she got the role when she and Lansbury accidentally met in the market on San Vicente in Brentwood! … Composer Barry Mann who, with wife Cynthia Weil, wrote the most played (on radio) song of the 20th century, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” displays another talent with his exhibit of photographs at the Soapbox Gallery in Venice. … In honor of the late Herb Steinberg’s many years of service to the Motion Picture & TV Fund Foundation, a memorial grove tree will be dedicated in the Wasserman Campus, Walter Lang Pavilion, Sunday at 10 a.m.

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