GOOD MORNING: There was an early boom during Sunday’s cast reading of “Late Boomers,” CBS-ATG’s pilot. The repercussion has resulted in Burt Reynolds departing the series. He says it was mutual. The series-to-be costars Robert Urich and Joe Bologna had told me they hoped the fireworks that were ignited during Saturday’s reading, could be extinguished and that Reynolds would return. But it was not to be. The first reading session, before a group of 40 network and ATG’ers (including Michael Ovitz) wound with the players off in one corner while the two producing groups debated 45 minutes, then told the cast to return Sunday. It did not sit well with Reynolds or his coworkers. On Sunday the feelings between Reynolds and director Andrew Wayman hit the fan. And that session quickly wound up. The next reading was not to be until Wednesday but a replacement for Reynolds is in the works. He told me “it’s better to do it now than afterwards. Things are different these days. Ten years ago it could have been a called a tiff or artistic differences. But I’d never had a director walk out on me. I made my attempt to say I was very sorry to the producers, but they were no longer listening either.” The series is written and produced by Mitchell Katlin and Nat Bernstein. Urich tells me, “Nobody on this planet could play this role better than Burt.” He adds, “We (actors) live with our emotions on our sleeve.” Joe Bologna also said, “I took this part because of Burt. Fifty percent of the laughs are about how many women he’s slept with. It will be hard for anyone to follow him.” But Burt philosophically said ” I probably would’ve been very good in this role. My major regret is not being able to work with my pal Bob Urich.” Reynolds also said “I’ve never been busier.”
DENISE RICH IS STILL very much in showbiz. Composer Rich was aboard our same American Airlines flight from N.Y. to L.A. and she was busy writing a song for the end title of a movie now in post-production. (If it’s bought, I’ll happily report.) She also continued on to Las Vegas for the birthday party of Radio One’s Cathy Hughes, who was honored at Mandalay Bay. On Friday, Denise is Barbara Walters’ guest … Talking birthdays: Shirley Temple celebrated hers Monday night at home with husband Charles Black — and their new boxer puppy … Tonight, Barbra Streisand celebrates her birthday at a small dinner party at a friend’s home … Pat and Dick Van Patten celebrate their 47th wedding anni Wednesday … And today is the 48th anniversary of my start at Daily Variety. How time flies — for all of us! … Peggy Noonan, Ronald Reagan’s speech writer — her last was his farewell address — is in L.A. adding bon mots for her book “Hero — a Look at the Character of Ronald Reagan” (Viking-Penguin). She lunches today with Nancy Reagan and chatted Monday with A.C. Lyles, the Reagan’s longtime friend. Natch, it’s a complimentary book. Republican Noonan is a contributor to the (Demo-themed) “West Wing,” which she says, “I adore. It’s so true, as is their Oval Office. It reflects the vision of Aaron Sorkin; I love him” … Before leaving N.Y., we got a peek at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s renowned Costume Institute Benefit Gala special exhib bowing tonight: “Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years — Selections from the John F. Kennedy Library & Museum.” If this doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, nothing will. In addition to the brought-to-life condition of the gowns, a tape of her tour of the White House greets you on entrance to the galleries of mannequined gowns, suits, dresses, chapeaux (yes the pillbox, of course). Monday night’s party which followed was held in the museum’s dramatic Temple of Dendur, Egypt’s gift to the U.S. Caroline Kennedy and husband Edwin A. Schlossberg were honorary chairs of the gala and guests included First Lady Laura Bush, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Edward Kennedy and wife Victoria, Edward and Robert Kennedys Jr., Patricia Kennedy Lawford, Lee Radziwill, Sargent and Eunice K. Shriver, Maria Shriver, plus the fashion world’s Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, John Galliano, Oleg Cassini, Pauline Trigere, Valentino, Diane Von Furstenberg Diller, Vera Wang, Bob Mackie, Mary McFadden, Isaac Mizrahi — and Joan Rivers and other showbiz reps including Ellen Barkin and Ron Perelman, Joan Allen, George Hamilton, Anjelica Huston, Andie McDowell, Julianna Margulies, Demi Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Meg Ryan, etc.
IT’LL DO FOR BROADWAY what Tiger Woods did for golf,” Tony Awards show exec producer Gary Smith said to me after he and wife Maxine saw Mel Brooks’ “The Producers.” Smith was in N.Y. to see all the shows, getting ideas for the Tonys TV’er. They sat in front of us at the giant “42nd Street” revival at the Ford theater. Although “42nd” doesn’t open officially until May 2, it has already been nominated for 11 Outer Critics Circle Awards, including outstanding revival of a musical. The current super-lavish production boasts the credit “original direction and dances by Gower Champion.” Meanwhile, over at the Belasco theatre, “Follies” is enjoying its revival with a cast including Marge Champion. It was a treat to see her along with Polly Bergen (show-stoppping with “I’m Still Here”), Betty Garrett, Joan Roberts, sharing honors with the show’s stars, Blythe Danner, Gregory Harrison, Judith Ivey and Treat Williams … And talking Tonys, American Theatre Wing chairman Isabelle Stevenson, seated next to us at the Roseland “Producers” preem party, excused herself to “mingle” in the crowd of over 1,000. She’s 86, and celebrating her 25th year producing “Working in the Theater” TV specials. She tapes “The Producers'” story today with Mel and company. There’s no biz like –.