GOOD MORNING: Sophia Loren celebrates the start of her 100th film, “Between Strangers,” June 4 in Toronto — working for her son, Edoardo Ponti, who’s making his feature directorial debut (It’s also his screenplay.) I spoke to young (28) Ponti in Toronto where he is readying the start and asked how he would feel directing the Oscar (2) winner — his mother! “I feel so grateful to work with such a magnificent actress — and person. We had been rehearsing a couple of weeks in L.A., and it seemed so natural to be working with her. I look forward to continuing on the set.” Sophia’s scenes will be with Gerard Depardieu and Pete Postlethwaite. And no, there are no torrid love scenes with either, he laughingly assured me. The pic involves the stories of three generations of women who confront their past. The cast also includes Oscar winner Mira Sorvino, Deborah Kara Unger, Malcolm McDowell, Klaus Maria Brandauer and Wendy Crewson … I also asked if his father, Carlo Ponti, is involved in the production. The anwer, he said laughingly, “He is being my father — and my friend.” The producers are Gabriella Martinelli, Elda Ferri and Mario Cotone. The pic is Italian-Canadian financed and will be sold globally in Cannes by Martinelli starting next week. Edoardo says he feels “blessed” to have Martinelli as producer: “She has taught me so much.” Edoardo’s brother Carlo Ponti, Jr., 32, the resident conductor of the San Bernardino Symph., is not doing the music. That credit will go to Bigniew Preisner, who collaborated with young Ponti on “Requiem For My Friend,” a live musical/visual tribute to Kieslowski and on “Live,” a short preemed at the Venice fest … “Between Strangers” is being filmed entirely in Toronto, “and unlike 95% of the American movies shot here, we are shooting Toronto — for Toronto. And this will be an effects-free movie!”
MORE FAMILY SHOWBIZ: Lucie Arnaz (Mrs. Laurence Luckinbill) and brother Desi Arnaz Jr. are close to finalizing a deal with CBS’ Les Moonves and Nancy Tellem for an “I Love Lucy” 50th anniversary special to air in Oct. “Attorneys still have to iron out some of the details.” Gary Smith and Fred Rappoport will produce, she says enthusiastically after viewing the producers’ AFI specials. Lucie is in London sidelined by a broken toe from her (rave-reviewed) “Witches of Eastwick” legiter. Hopefully she’ll return Monday and winds her year’s pact at the end of June “In time to come back home — in time to not be able to work because of the Actors strike!” Lucie also reports the in- preparation “I Love Lucy” traveling interactive show which would play arenas and fairs throughout the country — and abroad, wherever “Lucy” remains adored. Arnaz sez Marty Erlichman is readying this extravaganza … Beau Bridges, who plays a married man (with children) who undergoes a sex change in Jane Anderson’s “Looking for Normal” SRO at the Geffen, tells me he “researched” the role and looked up two who, in real life, had the experience One continues as a fire fighter, the other a cinematographer. Both came to the play, and Bridges reports they approved — and applauded — as do all audiences at the theater. Bridges is no stranger to author Anderson — he won an Emmy (as did she) for her “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom.” Bridges next stars in Showtime’s “Heartland Ghosts” with Nia Long … The hysterical laughs emanating from the Wilshire theater opening night continued on at the Friar’s club in BevHills where the show’s cast continued to entertain. And cast member and N.Y. Friar’s East Coast Dean Freddie Roman talked with West Coast President Irwin Schaeffer about a co-sponsored club event in 2002 … The Creative Arts Temple’s annual show, “Norm Crosby & Friends” will be held May 6 at Cal State Northridge with comedy cast including Dave Barry, Mike Burstyn, Fyvush Finkel, Barbara McNair, Jeremy Vernon and host Crosby.
ALAIN BERNHEIM HAS BEEN NOTIFIED he’ll be honored as a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur — “for contributions to French-American cultural relations.” As an agent in Paris, he repped James Jones, Gore Vidal, Pierre Boule, Francoise Sagan, Louis Malle, Nicholas Ray, Jules Dassin and John Frankenheimer. He also produced “Buddy, Buddy,” “Racing With The Moon,” “Yes, Giorgio” and “Return to Paradise.” He is readying to produce “The Fiance,” Lyn Roth’s script of the WWII American who married five women to liberate them all from concentration camps. And “The American Lover,” scripted by Clancy Sigal. He and Jay Kanter have bought film rights to Will Chase’s suspense thriller, “Talk Show” … On hand for the May 7 Sotheby BevHills exhib of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” will be Disney’s original “Alice” voice — Mrs. Catherine Beaumont Levine. Disney’s cartoon classic is celebrating its 50th anni. Sotheby’s West Coast Chairman, Andrea Van de Kamp, is also on the Disney Board. The movie will background the cocktail party and sale … Dina Merrill will play a villain in CBS’ “Glow,” her first horror pic. “I love playing villains,” the lovely Dina admits … And for the book-signing by Danica Perez for her book, “Glow: A Journey To Motherhood,” — Rodeo Drive’s Armani was lighted in pink to jibe with the book’s glow — as well as Perez’s. She’s expecting again.