Rumors of Regis’ death exaggerrated

GOOD MORNING: Regis Philbin is alive and well — as I hope you all saw this morning (Thursday). Wednesday, he told me he was concerned that his stay at the N.Y. Hospital Monday and Tuesday could be exaggerated by rumors. He had a week’s vacation from his two shows; he and wife Joy spent the weekend with Donald Trump and his g.f. Melania at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach playing tennis, etc. But, Monday on his return, Philbin felt a slight chest pain and an angiocam exam prescribed an atherectomy. “I had a choice of treatment by medication for several months — or the atherectomy, which took only a half-hour. I decided on the latter procedure.”(He was kept in the hospital for observation overnight). Seven years ago, Philbin underwent angioplasty on the left side of his heart; this time it was his right. “Now I should live to be 100,” he laughed (he’s 65). Monday, his “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” will launch four nights of celebrity guests including David Duchovny, Rosie O’Donnell, Ray Romano, Vanessa Williams and Kathie Lee Gifford. No, not one of ’em won a million-$ — but whatever they did win (high as $ 250,000) went to charities. As for a replacement for Gifford in August on the daytimer, no one is yet chosen. Regis’ wife Joy remains content as a guest co-host and reluctant to a fulltime job. As for Cybill Shepherd’s reported desire to share with Philbin, he says it’s news to him, and Shepherd didn’t mention it when she guested recently.

AN ALL-DAY POWER FAILURE in our (Westwood) neighborhood forced us out of the house Tuesday night — and whatta break! Why not go to the movies and return home when, it is hoped, an all-clear would be sounded? It was our good fortune to get into the AMC Century City’s multiplex where “Keeping the Faith” was playing. About the film, Daily Variety reviewer Emanuel Levy had written, “strong word of mouth could turn it into a popular date movie for moviegoers in their 20s and 30s.” (So who better to see it than us!) P.S. it is a terrific movie for all ages. Afterward, we talked to members of the audience who had not only laughed, applauded throughout, but stayed for the final credits when each cast member was credited in vignettes. Edward Norton one of the producers, makes an auspicious directing bow and costars with Ben Stiller in the pic scripted by Stuart Blumberg. Norton and Blumberg are planning future joint productions including “Motherless Brooklyn” for New Line. Norton says he has gotten many calls, plus letters from brothers-sisters of mixed marriages and also congrats from rabbis. He says he’s learned to direct from working with Milos Forman, Woody Allen, David Fincher, etc. “You pay attention when you work with great directors.” He also wrote in a terrif scene for Forman, his ” “People vs. Larry Flynt” director. Norton credits the pic’s polish to his terrif d.p. Anastas Michos, to composer Elmer Bernstein — and the crew with whom Norton had worked in N.Y. on many pix. As for co-star Stiller, Norton reminds, “Everyone knows how funny he can be, but (in this picture) he shows his fine dramatic balance as well.” As for Jenna Elfman, he says, “She’s a reminder of Jean Arthur, with her acting ranging from goofy to classy.” She will be a major star. Norton next works for director Frank Oz in “The Score,” co-starring with Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando. “I’d do that movie just to be in the poster,” admits Norton. In the pic, he and De Niro are thieves reporting to Brando. Norton has met a couple of times with Marlon and is thoroughly impressed — by his scientific knowledge. He already knows all about his acting.

BIG YEAR FOR TURMAN-MORRISSEY: They start “Kingdom Come” for Fox Searchlight May 16 with Whoopi Goldberg and LL Cool J. Doug McHenry directs, Morrissey and Ed Bates produce with Turman exec producing. And they start “What’s the Worst That Can Happen” June 21 starring Martin Lawrence and Danny DeVito for MGM with Sam Weisman directing. Turman and Wendy Dytman produce, with Morrissey exec producing with David Hoberman. In August, they shoot a SAG experimental feature, “Bacchae,” an adaptation of Euripides’ feminist Greek tragedy with legit director Bradford Mays. They’re also developing “Salt Water” by David Marshall Grant at Shooting Gallery and “Behind the Sun” written and directed by Robby Henson at Lions Gate, both for fall production. Their CBS telefilm, “Miracle on the Mountain” aired Wednesday nigh. … It’s a big year as well for novelist David Stevens, whose Simon & Schuster novel “The Waters of Babylon” is in release and he’s currently scripting the NBC mini “Jackie, Ethel and Joan.” His next novel’s “Against the Sea,” the story of a small Dutch resistance group in WWII — they helped save the lives of hundreds escaping the Nazis. The true story’s set in Amsterdam. … A big treat for those lunching at the BevHills Polo Lounge Wednesday: Chevy Chase serenaded ’em on piano At Morton’s: the Pierre Cossettes and the Andy Williams. Latter’s recuping and plans to return to work in September at his Andy Williams’ Moon River theater in Branson, Mo., with Glen Campbell sharing the bill. Cossette’s banner is producing the 20th anni of Black Entertainment Television, airing May 5 from the Paris hotel in Vegas. Thus far set are Jamie Foxx, Mariah Carey, LL Cool J, Babyface, Stevie Wonder, Boyz II Men, Toni Braxton, Luther Vandross and Erykah Badu.

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