GOOD MORNING: Mel Brooks tells me “The Producers” is planning a farewell party for Nathan Lane and Mathew Broderick after their final show March 17 and before Henry Goodman and Steven Weber take over on March 19. But, Brooks says, he’s also hoping the initial duo will reprise their roles at some future date — mebbe sometime with the touring company that launches in September in Pittsburgh and will eventually play L.A. (at the Pantages?) in May 2003. Brooks says they are busily assembling the second company. On the home front, Mel happily reports wife Anne Bancroft is “feeling better, now able to take walks” and should be able to be on stage in Edward Albee’s “Occupant” in two weeks and then, it is hoped, to wing to Rome for the vidversion of “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone” with Helen Mirren. Brooks also is busy raising funds to independently produce his next bigscreen projects … Broadway also has a big week for David Brown who, for the first time in his remarkable career, finds two of his productions bowing within 24 hours: “Goldwyn” on Wednesday and “Sweet Smell of Success” on Thursday. Not one to shy from his opinions, Brown tells me, “My best work is in both shows.” On March 21, a performance of “Sweet Smell” benefits the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. Walter Winchell, who is spared no charity as J.J. Hunsecker in “Sweet Smell,” established the cancer fund in 1946, as the invite notes: “He (Winchell) was our founder — for better or for worse.” Both Runyon and Winchell died of cancer.
TONY CURTIS, WHO CO-STARRED in the movie “Sweet Smell” as Sidney Falco, is busy rehearsing singing and dancing for the June 4 Houston bow of the musicalized “Some Like It Hot” (in the Joe E. Brown role). Curtis, 77, sampled his singing for me on “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” one of three songs he’ll warble. And his (Billy Wilder’s) closing movie line will repeat in the legiter, “Nobody’s perfect.” … There were plenty of tears — and cheers — at the BevHilton Wednesday as the Alzheimer’s Association L.A. honored Leeza Gibbons, Janssen Pharmaceutica, “Iris” (accepted by Jim Broadbent) and Neil Papiano. All had personal experiences with a stricken family member and they tenderly told of their loss. But the evening shifted into a happy mode with the org’s annual Night at Sardi’s show toasting a B’way hit — this year, “Smokey Joe’s Cafe: The Songs of Lieber & Stoller.” Both composers were on hand to take bows and to applaud the pros who stepped out of their usual roles to sing. They were sensaysh. The evening raised a million-$ for Alzheimer’s research. Jason Alexander, who would rather sing than anything else, was a marvelous m.c. and also led the finale in “Stand by Me.” David Hyde Pierce, Kelsey Grammer, Peri Gilpin and John Mahoney of “Frasier” on “Jailhouse Rock” — in prison garb — were among the many showstoppers. Others: Megan Mullally, Lea Thompson and her 11-year-old daughter Madelyn, Sharon Lawrence, Lou Diamond Phillips, Wayne Brady, Kelli Fournier, Jason Graae, Dorian Harewood, Meshach Taylor, Yvette Freeman, Hattie Winston. Harold Wheeler was musical director of the show produced by Susan Dietz. The dinner chair, Laurie Burrows Grad, is the daughter of Abe Burrows, an Alzheimer’s sufferer who died in 1985 … The Museum of TV & Radio’s salute to Fred Allen brought forth priceless comments on Allen from Stuart Canin, Dick Cavett, Norman Corwin, Larry Gelbart, Stuart Hample, Hal Kanter, Norman Lear, Dick Martin and Herman Wouk (once one of Allen’s writers). Wonderfully, it was all taped and will be available for viewing at the museum starting next month — another reason to visit (and support) the museum … Martin Landau, SAG Award winner (“Ed Wood”) in their inaugural year, presents a check to the SAG Foundation on behalf of the Entertainment Industry Foundation and People mag prior to the awards Sunday … Margaret Whiting winged out to join the annual “Dream, the Lyrics and Music of Johnny Mercer” today, Saturday and Sunday at the Luckman Fine Arts complex, a STAGE benefit for AIDS. Whiting, prez of the Mercer Foundation, concertours with Paul Bernhardt “to remind young people there’s more to music than Britney Spears.” … Lew Wasserman, who will be 89 on March 15, says, “It’s been a while since I’ve been so moved by a picture, but ‘A Beautiful Mind’ is one of the better pictures we’ve ever made. I’m very fond of it — and those who made it” … Movie rights for Jane Heller’s ninth novel, “The Secret Ingredient” (St. Martin’s Press), are being sought by two banners, Mark Canton at APG and Carol Baum-Jane Goldenring’s company. Her seventh book, “Name Dropping,” optioned by Miramax, is being scripted by “Legally Blonde’s” Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith. But Heller’s sixth book, “Sis Boom Bah,” which had been optioned by Julia Roberts’ Shoelace Prods./Revolution Studios, is now in turnaround. Meanwhile, Heller’s eighth book, “Female Intelligence,” in St. Martin’s paperback, has been on USA Today’s bestseller list for two weeks … It was SRO at Book Soup on the Sunset Strip Wednesday night as Bob Evans signed/talked his New Millennium audio “The Kid Stays in the Picture.” Among Evans’ pals on hand, Kirk Kerkorian and Mort Viner.