Andrews to launch imprint with HarperCollins

GOOD MORNING: Julie Andrews, with unmatched success on the screen and stage, has also had such success as an author of children’s books that HarperCollins Publishers has signed her to a humongous deal for her own imprint, the Julie Andrews Collection. The collection will publish two-eight books per year over a three-year term. Julie’s daughter Emma Walton Hamilton will run the entity and provide editorial service; she also co-authors Julie’s best-selling children’s franchise, “Dumpy the Dump Truck” (which was originally written in tribute to Emma’s son Sam). Emma’s father Tony Walton (Julie’s former husband) is the illustrator of the “Dumpy” series. Emma says the book was born when she was a child and segued from her mother to father and both contributed to the work. Not only will mother and daughter write for the Collection, they will also develop new authors and recapture out of print works. The aim of all the books, Julie and Emma tell me, is to nurture the imagination and cultivate a sense of wonder in young readers. They launch the imprint in September 2003 with four books, including two by Julie and Emma. One of those is “Simeon’s Gift” a medieval fable. Due out next month is Julie’s final installment under her current deal with Hyperion Books for Children, “Little Bo Goes to France.” To date, Julie’s authored or co-authored over 11 best-sellers since her first, “Mandy” and “Last of the Great Whangdoodles.” She says writing with her daughter is “an enormously easy, fun process. We finish each other’s sentences. We have an absolute ball. This is an exciting adventure.” Their imprint owns all rights: TV, movies, characters, etc. Emma, husband Stephen Hamilton and Cybill Christopher also head to Bay Street Theater with an impressive program upcoming including Lanford Wilson’s “Talley’s Folly,” “Blithe Spirit” with Twiggy, and “Our Town” … As for Julie’s return to acting, a sequel to the highly successful “The Princess Diaries” is being readied. And she would star in husband Blake Edwards’ “Scapegoat,” which may go either on stage or screen; he’s written both versions.

THE APPLAUSE MAY STILL be ringing at the Shrine auditorium from an event that stands as a tribute to combining good citizenship with good moviemaking.

Army Archerd, Drew Barrymore, Steven Spielberg, Henry Thomas
Army Archerd interviews Drew Barrymore, Steven Spielberg and Henry Thomas at ‘E.T.’ anni preem.

It was, of course, the premiere of the return of “E.T.” The applause shook those venerable walls beginning with the opening remarks of the dynamic Eunice (Mrs. Sargent) Shriver praising Steven Spielberg and company for their support of the Special Olympics for the past 20 years. (When approached to help, he immediately gave $1 million, then proceeded to donate his talents to their programs.) The applause continued through John Williams’ magnificent overture and performance onstage and to the final bow onstage by all who starred in/created the film … Cheers rang out repeatedly through the screening, starting with the first line uttered by 7-year-old Drew Barrymore, to the bicycled boys and “E.T.” flying to freedom in the classic movie scene … In my interviews on the red carpet, the participants further paid tribute to Spielberg’s genius, the Special Olympics, Universal Studios and the heart of Hollywood. Everyone was in a truly happy mood in a party for 3,500 that followed in the Shrine’s adjoining banquet hall.

GERALDINE CHAPLIN WINGED IN from Madrid to co-host — along with Arthur Cohn and world- famous photog Michel Comte — the “People in Places with No Name” auction of precious art works. Geraldine told me it benefits victims of land mines in Angola, Ethiopia, as well as Afghanistan. In addition to celebs, VIPs from around the word will be on hand at the Ace Gallery in L.A. for tonight’s event when Grammy-winner Lauryn Hill will perform … Comte plans to repeat the “For Our Children” event at Oscar time next year in Israel … Chaplin has two films (in Spanish) readying for release: “Talk To Her” and “The City With No Limits.” She also plays a grandmother role in Robert Halmi’s upcoming “Dinotopia.” I had last visited Geraldine on the set of “Doctor Zhivago” in 1964. It was a winter train station scene and she was swathed in furs. It was in Madrid, in the heart of summer. She tells me MK2 will soon release theatrically her father Charlie Chaplin’s films in the U.S. She viewed “The Great Dictator” (1940) at the Berlin Film Fest and says it was quite an experience seeing it “100 meters from Hitler’s bunker.” She says the six-minute finale “talks about where we’re all going now–searching peace” … Wolfgang Puck’s new eatery, Vert in the Hollywood &Highland complex, was the site for a preview party by the “I Am Your Child” foundation founded by Rob Reiner and Michele Singer Reiner. It’s dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of early childhood development and promoting innovative strategies to improve condition for families and young children.

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