GOOD MORNING: Robert Halmi underwent surgery for partial kidney removal two weeks ago in Cleveland, returned to his offices in N.Y. Monday and is doing “extremely well.” “I’m tough,” says Halmi (78), who promises to be on hand April 23 at N.Y.’s American Museum of Natural History preem of his “Dinotopia.” And he is already filling up his nonstop calendar of location look-sees, first to the Calgary start of his “Dream Keeper,” a four-hour ABC mini. Four weeks later, he vaults to Vancouver for the start of a two-hour telepic, “St. Nick,” starring Kelsey Grammer as a reluctant son of Santa who’s summoned from Florida to the North Pole, where dad orders him to start the serious sleigh biz. Halmi is a Grammer fan, having starred him in his vidversion of Neil Simon’s “London Suite” … You ain’t heard nothin’ yet: Halmi’s then off to Hungary – for the 60th anni of his high school graduating class. And to keep his momentum going, he wings to Monte Carlo for the TV fest July 1, then off to Morocco and London for “Time Bandits,” another four-hour mini for ABC starring Terry Gilliam.
IT SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN A SURPRISE to the American Federation of Musicians, the Immigration & Naturalization Service or the Kennedy Center — but the readers of my Feb. 26 column were informed, “How about the Kirov Symphony (112 musicians) scoring their first movie while in D.C. for their Kennedy Center concert?” “K-19: The Widowmaker” producers Ed Feldman, Joni Sighvatsson and Christine Whittaker had arranged for the Kirov to record Klaus Badelt’s score for Par’s (Intermedia Films) pic at Constitution Hall. They did it following their Feb. 12-17 stand at the Kennedy Center’s opera house with the Kirov Ballet, though they did not complete the score in D.C. (three days’ worth) — they went back to Russia, to St. Petersburg, to finetune it. (The Kennedy Center says, “This matter only involves the Kirov and had nothing to do with the Kennedy Center.”) … Producer Feldman told me the filmmakers had no dealings with the INS: “We dealt with (the orch’s) rep and we weren’t told it was not OK.” The pic’s set in a Russian sub and stars Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson; it will be released July 17 by Par. As for recording a film’s score outside L.A., Feldman reminds many Hollywood pix are scored with symphony orchs in their home bases such as Salt Lake City, London, etc. … Mike Wallace tells me one of the reasons he’s cutting back on his work is “to spend more time with my lady.” She’s Mary W., his wife of 16 years. But Wallace admits he has signed a new pact with CBS and next year will do eight “60 Minutes” and 12 “60 Minutes II” segments. He doesn’t have any immediate pans to head over to Israel or Afghanistan. “I spoke to Arafat four weeks ago,” he reminds. He has a startling story coming up — it’s about the penile enlargement bizness by cosmetic surgeons who use skin — which could (should) be used for burn victims! … Don Hewitt, the “60 Minutes” boss, tells me, “I’m glad Mike (84) is slowing down. I can’t keep up with him — and I’m going on 80. But we both can lick any kid in the house!”
“THE CORSAIRS” IS THE TITLE of ABC’s one-hour pilot scripted by Larry Gelbart, who also co-exec produces with Ken Topolsky; Michael Dinner directs. The cast of the show about media moguls and how they affect society includes John Larroquette, Martin Landau, Philip Baker Hall, Mary McDonnell and Mimi Rogers … Actor John Agar died Sunday at St. Joseph’s Hospital. He had been long-suffering from emphysema. His wife, Loretta, died last year — they were wed 46 years. Agar previously was married to Shirley Temple in a wedding that had Wilshire Boulevard traffic stopped, recalls A.C. Lyles, who was an usher at their wedding. Shirley has since been wed — 52 years — to Charles Black. When I told Temple of Agar’s passing, she noted, “I hope he has peace. I know how much he suffered in recent years.” He would occasionally call her. Shirley will celebrate her 74th birthday April 23 … Friends are saddened to learn of the death Sunday at Cedars-Sinai of Christina Baumracher, wife of Alan B., the executive in charge of production for “The People’s Choice Awards” for the past 20 years. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Charles Borremeo Church in North Hollywood … Wolfgang Puck sets an example for his industry with his generosity to many charities including Meals on Wheels, cancer research, etc. But on Sunday, Puck played host to customers who have made it possible for him to share his generosity — it was the opening of his latest eatery, Vert, in the Highland & Hollywood complex. More than 800 showed up — and he had just arrived from Spago at Four Seasons Resort Maui! Vert is a brasserie and, he brags, “Now I can show that I really know how to cook.” He did it Sunday — but then he’s been doing it since his days at Ma Maison … Emma Samms raised $500,000 for her Starlight Children’s Foundation gala at Hollywood & Highland’s Grand Ballroom (also Puck’s place). Bob Lorsch and 16-year-old artist Alexandra Nechita were honored with the night’s top awards … The Creative Coalition’s Stand Up for Class mentoring day Thursday at Birmingham High in Van Nuys boasts a long list of celebs, including William Baldwin, Sean Astin, Tom Arnold, Stephen Collins, Leeza Gibbons, David Paymer, Chris Lawford, Sharon Lawrence and Harry Hamlin.