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Crystal keeps Oscar sense of humor

GOOD MORNING: Billy Crystal won’t be at the Oscars this year, but he hasn’t lost his Oscar show sense of humor. When told Hollywood Boulevard will be shuttered between Highland and Orange Drive for five days pre-Oscar, but reopened “in time for rush hour traffic at 6 a.m. Monday, March 25,” Crystal told me, “But — supposing the Oscars are still going on?” Seriously folks, although (voiced) in the nominated “Monsters, Inc.,” Crystal will be in N.Y. filming “Analyze That” with Robert De Niro, Harold Ramis directing. And, he adds,” I don’t think it would be good for Whoopi — I’d be a distraction.” He will, however, be at the DGA awards for which he’s a nominee for directing HBO’s “61*,” which he says, “makes me feel great!” One of the locations for “Analyze That” will be Yogi Berra’s home in Montclair, N.J. “Any chance I get to hang out with Yogi,” Crystal says. He recalled on the last pic as Tony Bennett reunioned with Berra, whom he hadn’t seen since the 1960 World Series. “It’s you again!” said Yogi to Bennett … “Analyze That” will be very physical, promises Crystal, who has been working out. He’s discussing another directing outing, this one the bigscreen comedy “P.A.L.S.” for Castle Rock. He’d star as a con man taking in a con … Crystal, like pal Robin Williams, is talking a return to the road. “While I still can,” Crystal, 54, laughed. He broke in his show in Seattle in November and will work on it post pic. He says his show, unlike Williams’, is “more like a theatrical playlet rather than a concert.” Crystal’s daughters continue the tradition: daughter Jenny appears in Sunday’s “The Practice” and daughter Lindsay is directing a documentary on Billy’s uncle Bern Crystal.

“THIS IS MY LAST FORAY into politics,” says Harry Thomason, who is now in D.C. and involved in the making of Regent’s feature version of Joe Conason and Gene Lyons’ book “The Hunting of the President — The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton” (St. Martin’s Press). Meanwhile, the Thomason’s Mozark banner is prepping Sony’s feature version of “Bobby Ewing” scripted by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. And next week, she turns in her completed novel, “Liberating Paris” to Warner Books. It’s about six who grew up in Paris, Ark., that is … At the White House Wednesday to tea with first lady Laura Bush were piano virtuoso Byron Janis and his wife, Gary Cooper’s daughter Maria, and former White House secretary (under Jackie Kennedy) Letitia Baldridge. President Bush is a fan of Gary Cooper’s and presented a “High Noon” poster to another Cooper fan, Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, during the latter’s recent visit to the White House. Wednesday’s visit followed Jani’s concert for the Voice of America’s’ 60th anni. Maria appears at USC’s School of Cinema and TV Monday with the screening of “Balls of Fire” (1941) starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, directed by Howard Hawks … The Creative Coalition’s D.C. delegation to note National Arts Advocacy Day on Tuesday will include William Baldwin, Connie Brutton, Alan Cumming, Chuck D., Hector Elizondo, Giancarlo Esposito, Peter Horton, Richard Kind, Christopher Lawford and Joe Pantoliano. They head to Capitol Hill to meet with legislative leaders to advocate for increased arts funding and to lead a panel at the Congressional Arts Breakfast on the healing power of the arts, “Voices and Visions: Arts and Healing Post 9/11” … The Roger Richman Agency, which represents the persona of Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, the Wright brothers, Steve McQueen and Mae West among others, is now appointed to represent the Leonard Bernstein persona.

ALZHEIMER’S IS NO SECRET to Oscar- and SAG-nominated Jim Broadbent who plays Judi Dench’s (Iris Murdoch’s) husband in “Iris.” He was among those at Wednesday night’s BevHilton “A Night at Sardi’s” benefiting the Alzheimer’s Assn. Broadbent told me his mother, who died in 1995 at age 81, had the disease. And “Iris” director Richard Eyre also had family experience with the disease. Dench, who had no family tie to the disease, “picked our brains,” said Broadbent. “Acting with her was a real privilege. And made my role easy.” Broadbent, this past year, costarred with Oscar-nominee Nicole Kidman in “Moulin Rouge” (he was the heavily camouflaged Zidler), and played the father of Oscar-nominated Renee Zellweger in “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” And after Brits questioned American Zellweger playing a Briton, Broadbent told me, “She showed them up! She was fantastic.” He praises all three ladies, saying “None was a prima donna — and all very funny and easy to get laughing.” Next he plays the “ill-fitting and grungy” Wardsford Squeers in “Nicholas Nickleby.” This weekend, on their “If We Picked the Winners” special show, Ebert and Roeper pick Ben Kingsley and Marisa Tomei for supporting actor/actress, but on best actor and actress nods, Ebert chooses Denzel Washington and Halle Berry while Roeper supports Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman. And you? … There’s an L.A. bus driving around the BevHills-Greater L.A. area with a banner saying, “Is this the bus with the Off Broadway play on it?” It’s, of course, a promo for “Speed for Thespians,” the nominated 29 min. live-action short — which is set in a NYC bus. No Sig Alerts yet.

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