Race takes back seat to family in ‘Come’

GOOD MORNING: It’s an all-black cast “but you could substitute with an entire white cast and not have to change a word in the script. This is a beautiful family film — all the characters are dear, distinctly humane and the setting is not necessarily urban and there’s no violence, as in so many black films.” The setting was the Victory Christian Center in L.A.’s Leimert Park. And the picture shooting there Tuesday: Fox Searchlight’s “Kingdom Come.” I was talking to John Morrissey, who is producing with Edward Bates. The cast includes Whoopi Goldberg, Jada Pinkett-Smith, LL Cool J, Loretta Devine, Darius McCrary, Cedric the Entertainer, Anthony Anderson and Clifton Davis. When Whoopi committed to the pic, the “stampede of stars” followed — and everyone came in for little money because of the quality of the script by David Dean Bottrell who, with Jessie Jones, had written the play “Dearly Departed” on which the low-budgeted pic is based … Morrissey says he’s happy to see the opening success of another 20th Fox black family comedy, “Big Momma’s House.” On Monday, he and partner Larry Turman start another Lawrence pic, “What’s the Worst Thing That Can Happen?” with Danny DeVito toplining and John Leguizamo costarring. This one’s for MGM … I told Morrissey “Kingdom Come” is a long way from his “American History X,” but he said while “History” is a plea for racial tolerance, “Kingdom Come” is for family understanding. But it is a black comedy.

THEY COULDA MADE A MOVIE OUTTA: Clifton Davis’ recent courting of and marriage to United Airlines flight attendant Monica Durant. Between takes on “Kingdom Come,” Davis told me he was at Washington’s National Airport waiting to board a flight to Chi when his eye caught Monica’s. “We smiled — and it was like an old movie. I found she was also headed to Chicago, but on a different fight.” He was unable to change to her flight, but on landing in Chi, he raced to the gate where she was to arrive. “When she came out and saw me, she said, ‘You must be waiting for me.’ And I said, ‘I’ve been waiting for you for a long time! Are you a single lady?’ She said yes and asked ‘Are you a single man?’ ” Fade out. They were married May 27 in Kauai. It is her first and his third. “And my last!” he emphasized. They were toasted on the “Kingdom” set with a surprise celebration on their return from the (brief) honeymoon. The versatile Davis has previously taken hiatuses from his multiple showbiz career (songwriting, TV series, feature roles) to take a two-year term as vice president of Elizabeth City State U. (part of the U. of North Carolina), and stands as a church leader, but now says he kept missing showbiz and is back — in all its media. He has written 12 new songs for a gospel musical with Jitu Cumbuka, “Strangers and Angels,” and he is readying an album on his own. He cohosts a health-oriented talk TV show with Tammie McGrew, and has taped a seg on addiction with Smokey Robinson, another on prostate cancer with Billy Davis, communications with children with Stepfanie Kramer and is talking a dramatic TV series. He’s a busy guy for a new groom.

BUT WHERE’S JERRY? While American Express proudly tees off its commercial with Tiger Woods’ 60-second blurb during tonight’s start of the NBA finals, the Jerry Seinfeld AmEx commercial filmed in December remains unaired. AmEx admits it is a “long time” to keep a commercial (especially by Jerry) from the air and they add it may be because of “internal editing” (legal?), or because of “a different direction.” But they do not have a date set for the airing of Seinfeld’s next one for ’em. Yes, he has been paid. Meanwhile, Jerry is happily honing his live act and now has compiled 30-40 minutes of fresh material for his upcoming coming out — live … Martha Coolidge will direct Hallmark’s CBS feature “Flamingo Rising” in Florida. Richard Welsh is exec producer and Brent Shields produces for Hallmark. Coolidge, who directed “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” starring Halle Berry for HBO, “The Ponder Heart” for PBS “Masterpiece Theatre” and one of the stories of “If These Walls Could Talk 2” for HBO, receives the award for artistic excellence in film from Rhode Island School of Design, Thursday at the DGA. She was the school’s first film major … Rob Reiner receives the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor, and he will address graduates of the School of Public Health commencement June 18. It is in recognition of Rob’s contributions to the health and well-being of children. He and wife Michele cofounded the I Am Your Child Campaign and Foundation and he also led the campaign for passage of Calif.’s Prop 10 and he chairs the Calif. Children and Families First Commission … Sidney Poitier will be honored by the Fulfillment Fund and KTLA Charities at the 14th annual L.A. Education Awards, Saturday at the Music Center. Sinbad m.c’s, with appearances by Antonio Banderas, MTV’s Bill Bellamy, Billy Blanks and David Boreanaz … Martin Short’s King World talk’er aired its final show May 26 but continues in summer reruns. Next week he and Bernie Brillstein present to networks Short’s series plans based on his “Jiminy Glick” character — the wacky entertainment showbiz reporter who has previously “interviewed” top names like Tom Hanks on Short’s now departing talkshow.

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