GOOD MORNING: Picture this — agent Elizabeth Taylor conducting all her business in bed as she deals with network executives who want to do a special starring her clients, Joan Collins, Shirley MacLaine and Debbie Reynolds. It was the scene Tuesday in a Hancock Park mansion, repping Taylor’s home in “Those Old Broads,” ABC’s two-hour telefilm skedded for February sweeps. The story: An old pic starring Collins, MacLaine and Reynolds has been re-released to giant B.O., so a TV exec has the brilliant idea of “saluting” them in a special reuniting them after 40 years. Their ruthless agent is La Taylor and in the contract gab, “nobody in the biz is unscathed,” says Ilene Amy Berg, exec producer who is among those laughing during these goings-on in the set. Laurence Marks also exec produces with John McNamara. If no one is “unscathed,” it’s because the script’s by two who know whereof they write: Carrie Fisher and Elaine Pope (“Seinfeld”). And, ah yes, the writers also wrote themselves into a hilarious jail scene; they and Tricia Fisher play hookers. The “broads,” of course, add their own persona to the dialog. And each one’s past history is also brought (not-so) slyly on-camera. F’rinstance, in the pool of Taylor’s house, an asp (remember “Cleopatra”) is seen swimming. A red velvet swing is in the background of a scene with Collins. MacLaine is shown meditating in front of an ancient goddess’ statue. And Reynolds is in a casino with “Singin’ in the Rain” in the b.g. Added to the cast are Peter Graves as Debbie’s husband, Pat Harrington as Joan’s mobster boyfriend and Jonathan Silverman as Shirley’s son. Matthew Diamond directs this ensemble. Producer Berg laughingly tells me they are having such a good time they’ll do a sequel, “Those Old Geezers.” But wasn’t that “Space Cowboys”?
SECRETS ABOUT IRVING BERLIN come alive as the 1950 film “Annie Get Your Gun” is readied for its 50th anni screening at the Academy, Oct. 27 and Nov. 14; Warner Home Video release the movie for the first time on video and DVD. The home versions will boast outtakes plus the original Annie Oakley numbers done by Judy Garland before she dropped out and was replaced by Betty Hutton. Restoration was led by WHV and by George Feltenstein Sr. of Turner Entertainment Co. The film hasn’t been in theatrical distribution since 1973. Sidney Sheldon, who scripted the pic, recalls how paranoid Berlin was about having the film seen again. Sheldon had had a good relationship with Berlin on this pic as well as on “Easter Parade,” which he also scripted, but Sheldon was not allowed by the Berlin estate to show the film at his house. When his lawyers finally got approval, the print was sent over — accompanied by two police. Sheldon is into music again: He originally went to N.Y. from Chi to become a songwriter. This time he’s writing country music lyrics for tunes by Eddie Reasner. Sheldon heads to Nashville to create ’em after his tour with his latest novel, “The Sky is Falling” (Wm. Morrow). He is, of course, at work on another novel — and his autobio, which he’s titled “The Other Side of Me” … “The secret of success is to stay alive long enough,” says author Gwen Davis, whose 1964 “What a Way to Go” (her story) which starred Shirley MacLaine, has now been optioned for a B’way musical. And Davis’ 1972 novel “Kingdom Come” will be made as a CBS telefilm by Jamie Lee Curtis. Davis is now travel writing for the Wall Street Journal … In her first appearance in a sitcom, after three decades of telepics and the hit series “Charlie’s Angels,” Jacqueline Smith is at Par taping a guest spot on CBS “Becker.” She plays an old flame of Ted Danson’s. Howcum? Jackie says she wants to do more comedy “and Ted Danson is the best; if I can hold my own with him, I think I can do it with anyone” … Marion Ross and Paul Michael, who are a couple off screen, will romance each other on screen in “Ladies and the Champ,” ABC’s “Wonderful World of Disney” telepic which begins shooting Sept. 25 in Vancouver. Olympia Dukakis costars. Michael just wound the indie film “The Street Sweeper,” in which he does his own singing as an opera star who becomes a street sweeper … David Hedison ages from 45-85 as the father of Michael York in “Omega Code 2.”
THE HUMAN CRY FOR THE ARTS is being answered locally by Valerie Harper and her husband Tony Cacciotti, who are putting their money where their talents also lie in readying to convert Hollywood’s Ivar Theater into the California Youth Center. The city has come up with $400,000 for the conversion and the program — but that’s only the beginning of needs. Tony is personally helping to get suitable toilets, wall coverings and seats for the Oct. 12 bow of Harper’s one-woman show, “Pearl Buck’s All Under Heaven,” in which the three-time Emmy winner and B’way vet will plays Buck to the age of 80, as well as other characters in her life (like Will Rogers, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc.). Rob Ruggiero directs. Jack Nakano is founder and artistic director of the California Youth Theater for the past 38 years; hopefully the theater will expand when able to take over the lease of the adjoining Opium Den (!) nightclub to create the Hollywood Youth Arts Center as well … Harper and Dyke Garrison wrote the production skedded for a run through Nov. 5.