Brooks and his ‘Producers,’ Sting to headline cancer benefit

GOOD MORNING: “You always had faith in me — even though I am short,” Mel Brooks laughingly said to me as he left L.A. Wednesday for N.Y., after a brief break at home between the Chicago break-in of “The Producers” and its St. James B’way bow April 19. “When I first said I was going to do a Broadway musical, I thought they’d say, ‘You — you competing with Gershwin, Porter, Styne?’ So I sat down and wrote 22 songs.” P.S. the show broke in with the 22 tunes — and 22 remain. The cast album may be recorded (for Sony) before the show opens! … It’s such a hot ticket, with $10 million advance, Brooks said he was unable to get extra tickets for the bow. “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” he said. “I have relatives I never heard of” … When Arthur Miller receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Dramatists at their 52nd anni, May 17 at the Marriott Marquis, Brian Dennehy will make the presentation. I caught up with Dennehy Wednesday between takes on his new sitcom “The Fighting Fitzgeralds” (which had strong Tuesday opening seg overnights after having been flatteringly reviewed). Dennehy appeared in Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” 450 times on stage over 2-1/2 years. With Tony and Golden Globe wins, Emmy and SAG nominations and a Producers Guild win as a producer of the vidversion filmed of the play, Dennehy says Miller, 85, “has a great sense of humor.” They met during rehearsals in N.Y., dined several times in Boston. “You know when you’re in a room with him, you are with a man of greatness. He’s a delight to be with. He is one of the few individuals who understand this culture; this society is lucky to have him.” He says opening night of “Salesman,” Feb. 10, 1999, on the play’s 50th anni of the bow with Lee J. Cobb, “was probably the greatest night of my life — when he (Miller) came out to take a bow. It was amazing. The audience, including Gregory Peck, Lauren Bacall, Richard Widmark — they all screamed. I was certainly glad to be a part of it.” He and Miller once talked about Dennehy doing his “All My Sons” as well. Now, it’s a question of what Dennehy’s future will be, if the TV series turns out to be a success (now predicted), and what happens with the strike. If it comes, Dennehy thinks he’ll just take a rest. There’s an offer to do “Salesman” on the London stage, but he reminds it would take a six-month stand to pay for the expensive stage cost … The series, which had “a few bumps” (two pilots) getting to the NBC screen, has five segs bought, five more scripts ordered. He allows his “producer” credit is more of a “gift,” unlike the producer credit he shares on the TVersion of “Salesman.” About “Fitzgeralds,” he says, “I wish we can get into some social commentaries,” admitting “All in the Family” is his favorite TV show of all time. “But,” he said, “I think it’s enough to be funny — at this time.”

STING WILL BE THE HEADLINER March 27 at the “Unforgettable Evening,” when Saks Fifth Ave. Cedars-Sinai Research for Women’s Cancers holds its fifth fundraiser at the BevWilshire. In less than four years the group has raised more than $7 million with honorary chairs Kate Capshaw, Steven Spielberg, Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks. Event chairs are Anne Douglas, Marion Laurie, Sandra Krause, Renette Ezralow, Margie Petersen, Jamie Tisch and Kelly Chapman Meyers … Maria Razumich, the glamorous managing director of New York’s Palace Hotel, and Bob Zec, global account manager for Compaq Computers, will wed May 26 at N.Y.’s Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation Evangilismos … Another merger? Michael Ovitz and Ted Forstmann lunching at the Grill Wednesday … Showbiz and the community: “Traffic” producer Ed Zwick will introduce a panel for a series launched by New Republic magazine focusing on “America’s Drug War.” The first of two will be held March 15 at Raleigh Studios’ Chaplin Theater. The mag’s editor Peter Beinart will moderate the discussion, “Media, Myth and Reality.” The panel will be: Dr. Mitchell Rosenthal of Phoenix House; Ethan Nadelmann of the Lindesmith Center Drug Policy Foundation, and Judge Ana Maria Luna of L.A. Superior Court. A second panel follows March 22 at the National Press Club in D.C. … David E. Kelley’s “The Practice” receives the BevHills Bar Assn.’s inaugural Media Award, “which recognizes entertainment industry contributions to public perceptions of lawyers and the law,” March 21 at the BevHills Hotel. Also honored is Russell J. Frackman of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, LLP, named lawyer of the year. He has been lead counsel on the RIAA vs. Napster case repping the interests of copyright owners and creators against online piracy … Sad to report that Donald A. Reed, founder and exec producer of the annual Saturn awards, is in critical condition at Midway hospital and is fighting for his life … Jeanne Hazard hosted a memorial to her late husband, seven-time Emmy winner composer Dick Hazard. Among those on hand who worked with Dick: Bobby Short, who sang “Just One of Those Things,” and “I’m Satisfied”; Herb Jeffries, “Satin Doll”; Tony Martin, “As Time Goes By”; Sue Raney and Johnny Mandel, “The Folks Who Live on the Hill.” Also there, Quincy Jones, Ginny Mancini … Skedded to speak at the memorial for producer Stan Margulies, Sunday at 11 ayem at the Steve Ross WB Theater: Ken Ziffren, Lou Gossett, Suzanne Pleshette, Carol Abrams, Michael Norell, Maurice Segal, Bram Goldsmith, son Lee Margulies and stepson Michael Kadish.

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