GOOD MORNING: All the employees of “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” were summoned into the conference room before the taping of Monday’s show. The hundred or so cast and crew piled in, sitting on the floor, hugging the walls. No one knew the reason for the assemblage; it had never been done before in the 10 years of Jay’s tenure. It was explained that Jay just wanted to show how much he appreciated them all: Each one received $1,000 for each year he/she worked on the show … The actual anniversary is May 23, but NBC will air a one-hour special April 30 at 10 p.m. It will be taped at Hollywood’s El Capitan theater. Of course there’ll be classic clips plus in-person guests, including musical performers … And talking anniversaries: “The Honeymooners’ 50th Anniversary Celebration” will air May 6 on CBS. The one-hour special will include clips from the remastered 39 “Honeymooners” as well as footage from the Gleason family-owned tapes of ‘The Jackie Gleason Show.” Among the clips will be the first appearance of Alice (Audrey Meadows), never repeated on air. Paul Brownstein and Jeff Margolis will team to exec produce this show. Simultaneously, Brownstein will be “consulting producer” to exec producer Margolis on “CBS … 50 Years From TV City,” to air April 27. Margolis started as an a.d. at TV City in 1976 … Carol Burnett will host this show. She wings in April 12 from Chi rehearsals of “Hollywood Arms” at the Goodman to tape her intro, closer and wraparounds, then returns to work on the Hal Prince-directed play written by Carol and daughter Carrie Hamilton (who died of cancer at the age of 38 on Jan. 20). The play opens April 29 … Add anni shows: Lorne Michaels is back from his St. Barts vacation and readying to produce NBC’s 75th-anni show May 5. I assume there’ll be a proper tribute to “Mr. Television.”
AN INVITATIONAL MEMORIAL for Billy Wilder will be held April 30 at the Academy. He is now at rest in a plot near Jack Lemmon, whose plaque reads: “Jack Lemmon in–.” Audrey Wilder’s sage observation about Billy: “Everybody learned something from Billy, if only by osmosis” … Barbra Streisand and sister Rosalind Kind are holding private services for their mother, Diana Streisand Kind, who died at 93 on March 27 … Steven Spielberg has yet to shoot on a stage for his “Catch Me If You Can” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks: Locations have so far included private houses, schools, airports (Ontario for Miami), Burbank, Downey. He’ll ditto in N.Y., Quebec and Montreal. You’ll have to catch him if you can … Jessica Lange is back and back with CAA. The two-time Oscar winner (“Blue Sky,” “Tootsie”) not only wants to do “creative, challenging and enriching” film roles but is anxious to make a B’way return. Among projects she’s considering is “Masked and Back,” written by and to star Bob Dylan for Intermedia. Lange would play a music agent. She’ll first be seen in “Prozac Nation” … Wayne Brady, readying to host a talkshow for Buena Vista, will first film a commercial this week for McDonald’s … Burt Reynolds takes on a dream role on Sunday’s “The X-Files”: He plays God … Griffin Dunne plays the title role in producer-writer Alan Zweibel’s half-hour sitcom for ABC, “What Leonard Comes Home To.”
LORNA LUFT LOVED OZ. “I really love Australia; I could live there,” she told me. She’s invited back after her gig along with President Clinton for the Prince’s Trust, and they put her atop the lead float in their Mardi Gras parade — surrounded by a dozen Judy Garland look-alike drag queens. Lorna was with Judy Davis when the latter won the SAG Award for “Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.” She visited with Diane Cilento in her rainforest home. You recall, Lorna didn’t get back in time from her gig Down Under to attend Liza’s wedding. In fact, she said the only way she communicates with Liza is via her sister’s press agent. Meanwhile, Luft is readying another feature, “The Candy Darling Story,” about the drag queen who died at 26. This one’s for Storyline … Lew Rudin Way will be dedicated Thursday at 4 p.m. The street honoring the late philanthropist is located on 52nd Street between Park and Lexington. Mayor Michael Bloomberg officiates … It’s twins for Francesco Quinn (son of Anthony) and wife Julie. They welcomed son Massimiliano Italo and daughter Michela Isabella Saturday at Cedars. Francesco is filming a recurring role in CBS’ “JAG” … Robert Emery’s “The Genocide Factor,” a four-part mini, is one of the four top entries in the Houston Intl. Film Festival. Awards will be given April 14 … Tippi Hedren was awarded best actress in a short subject at the N.Y. Intl. Independent Film Festival for her role in “Tea With Grandma” … Reba McEntire has been named host of the 37th annual Academy of Country Music awards, airing May 22 on CBS … Among the phone calls Howard Shore has received since winning the Oscar for his music for “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”: A congratulatory phoner from world champion figure skater Todd Eldridge, who skated to Shore’s music from the pic at the Olympics in Salt Lake. Eldridge has made this a part of his repertoire for the rest of the year.