GOOD MORNING: Troubles in Israel have delayed the start of “Spy Game,” the Robert Redford- and Brad Pitt-starrer that was scheduled to begin production Thursday. Director Tony Scott was in Casablanca Thursday seeking a replacement location that could double for Beirut, circa 1984. Other possible locations for the Beacon Communications-Universal pic are Turkey and Tunisia. Scott Marc Abraham, Beacon partner with Armyan Bernstein, who is producing “Spy Game” with Doug Witt, said the shoot will last 15 weeks. The production team figures it will probably be a couple of weeks before they can begin filming the Israel replacement. They will shoot interiors at England’s Shepperton studios and other exteriors in Budapest doubling for Berlin circa 1989. The film is an international thriller about a CIAgent who has to rescue a protege. … Abraham did not believe the delay would affect Redford’s future sked and he was confident Brad Pitt’s work in his next, “Ocean’s 11” could be worked out. He’s to start the end of January.
Abraham also expressed his sadness over Thursday’s continued bloodshed in Israel. At 10 p.m. Israel time Thursday, I reached the Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier, this time at his son’s house in Jerusalem where he had been but two miles from gunfire the preceding night. All day Thursday Hier watched (on TV) the ongoing drama of the Palestinians surrounding and firing on a bus containing Israeli children on an outing to Har Abel. The standoff ended — after nine hours — and five minutes before my phone call. “The mood in the country is very gloomy,” Hier told me. “The Israelis feel they are all alone. After they had pulled out their tanks and troops following the Sharm El-Sheikh agreement in Egypt achieved by President Clinton — then this!” Hier said American, Canadian and English parents have been taking home their children from Israel’s schools “by the hundreds.” He said the almost-empty Hilton hotel dining room, “usually packed with 900 diners, was empty and many personnel were laid off — and that included many Arabs. The Laronne hotel is skedded to close in two-three months.” As I noted Wednesday, Hier was in Israel for the preems in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv of Moriah Films’ feature docu “In Search Of Peace (Part One: 1948-1967).” He returns to N.Y. Monday for Wednesday’s Ziegfeld preem of the film.
SHADES OF THE ACTORS’ STRIKE 20 years ago: “We were forbidden at that time to speak,” Jane Seymour said, telling me how the strike had KO’d plans Universal had for her and Christopher Reeve to p.a. when “Somewhere in Time” went into release exactly 20 years ago. “And now another strike ?” noted Jane. However, plans are progressing peacefully for her and Reeve to reunite Oct. 24 in N.Y. for release of U’s 20th anni edition of the pic on VHS and DVD. The pic faired poorly at the box office in ’80 because of the lack of star promotion — and despite terrif reviews including that from Daily Variety calling it “a charming, witty, passionate romantic drama about a love transcending space and time ” and calling Reeve “smashing in his first film outing since ‘Superman’ ” and Seymour “mesmerizing.” Jane said Reeve had admitted at that time that “He was worried he wouldn’t have a film career after “Superman.'” Despite the pic’s poor box office performance it became a cult pic and college kids loved it. She and Reeve have given extensive interviews to accompany the new form release. Seymour has a green light for another “Dr. Quinn” feature from CBS. Beth Sullivan is writing and James Keach will direct … “I’m hoping the World Series doesn’t go for a sixth game,” Maureen O’Hara told me. CBS skedded an Oct. 29 airing of “The Last Dance” in which she co-stars with Eric Stoltz. “It’s very sentimental,” said O’Hara who is honored with a career achievement award Saturday at a gala at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis, hosted by John Dye. This fest toasts “filmmakers whose work explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive value of life.” Whose work better personified that than Maureen’s? “Last Dance” was the fourth teaming of O’Hara and Beth Polson, who is writing another for her; O’Hara’s next pic is “Poor Little Lamb” which she admits is, “another sentimental story — one about a little girl — and old lady.”
SECOND GENERATION: NANCY SINATRA SR. was among the more than 100 at Brentano’s Century City Wednesday night where daughter Tina autographed her book, “My Father’s Daughter” (Simon & Schuster) which goes into its second printing and hits the NYTimes non-fiction bestseller list next week. Nancy Jr. was unable to attend — she’s bicycling between D.C. and N.Y. on possible Smithsonian exhibits of their father’s memorabilia and the Gotham Sinatra statue respectively. And Frank Jr. was not on hand — he’s touring with his band. He and wife Cynthia MacMurray are working on a reconciliation. Also on hand at Tina’s book signing were love birds Suzanne Pleshette and Tom Poston … Maureen Reagan, daughter of Jane Wyman and Ronald Reagan, is recuping at her Sacramento home, following surgery in Chi for a recurrence of a lymph gland problem … Newlyweds Joan (Benedict) and Rod Steiger (they were married Oct. 10) returned to L.A. after he received the Reno Film Fest’s first Lifetime achievement Award and after they continued on to D.C. where he addressed the “ADL’s Heroes In Blue ” convention. On his return, Oscar winner Steiger was set for two more films, “Route 666” in which he again dons a sheriff’s uniform and a second pic, “Pool Room Junkie,” costarring with Chris Walken … While the budget for Muhammad Ali’s biopic at Sony hangs in the balance, big plans continue for the showbiz tribute to Ali, Nov. 16 at the Century Plaza. The evening’s expected to raise more than $3.5 million for a Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky. Billy Crystal hosts the evening … Peter Roth was honorary chair of CityLine 2000’s “Entertainment Inspiraton Award” to Aaron Sorkin. The party on WB’s Laramie Street set raised $310,000 for the Weingart Center, which serves homeless men and women … Ernie Borgnine wings to D.C. Saturday to m.c. the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival with Jane Powell … Susan DuBow, a partner in the Bragman Nyman Cafarelli praisery, is departing the biz to devote her life to raising Shira Rose DuBow whom she adopted July 13. Susan’s moving to her family home in Jacksonville, Fla. — where she plans to work in the field of adoption . She says her experience has given her “great insight that would be meaningful and helpful to other families in the process of adopting a child.” Hollywood’s loss is some child’s gain.