Seinfeld busy despite exit from TV

GOOD MORNING: Jerry Seinfeld is coming back to TV — well, sort of. Unlike the alumni of his series who have sought (unsuccessfully, for the most part) success on their own new series, Seinfeld is reteaming with an old friend — American Express. A new, three-year, eight-figure deal continues the 10-year relationship that’s a joint effort among Jerry, his managers Howard West and George Shapiro, American Express and the Ogilvy-Mather ad agency. It is such a unique “family” association that when Am-Ex chose not to air one of his commercials, no explanation was given — nor asked for. At least they tell me, “It’s that flexible, with no one busting each other’s chops.” Further, a specific number of commercials are specified to be made in the three years upcoming … He will make an appearance on NBC’s 75th anni show as “a little co-host” of one seg. Meanwhile, Jerry continues to play his one-man show to SRO audiences — last weekend in Toronto, Seattle next week, Atlanta, etc. He has filmed a theatrical, bigscreen 100-minute doc on how the act evolved and distribs are now bidding. It was produced-directed by Gary Streiner and Christian Charles … And, exhibiting another talent, he has completed a children’s illustrated book, “Seinfeld’s Halloween.” It’s scary how busy he is for someone no longer doing a weekly series.

THE MALADY LINGERS ON: Some of the Academy members who were stricken with a strange stomach illness following the March 2 sci-tech Oscar awards at the BevWilshire, were still ailing as the members moved on to the Nominees’ luncheon Monday at the BevHilton. Longtime Acad board member Arthur Hamilton said his wife was still not totally recovered. He said Acad members including Bruce Davis, Rick Richardson, June Foray and others were among those stricken. The hotel’s vice president and general manager Peter O’Colmain says the malady is determined to be a “Norwalk-like virus” and tests continue to determine the origin — and it was not in the handling of the food of the hotel, which regularly receives an “A” rating. … Acad president Frank Pierson was not one of those who took ill but said he had spoken to several who did. He was in great spirits for the luncheon, having won the DGA’s award for HBO’s “Conspiracy.” “It’s wonderful to be rewarded by your peers,” he said. When we talked about acceptance speeches, he wasn’t concerned about length — or content, noting “those ‘accidents’ make the show even more interesting and exciting.” And he believes this year’s awards will indeed be exciting — “because there are so many favorites.” And as for the new venue at Hollywood-Highland, the lengthy red carpet arrival (and the increased security) everyone is indeed advised to get there a half-hour earlier — than usual. … Pierson, also an Oscar-winner for his original screenplay of “Dog Day Afternoon” will discuss “and deconstruct” this work when he screens the pic for the Group at the Strasberg Wednesday. The pic will be screened in the newly renovated Marilyn Monroe theater in the Lee Stasberg Creative Center in West Hollywood. Reservations required for the free-of-charge evening. “In the Bedroom” was presented Monday night with the cast and director Todd Field … This afternoon at Le Cirque 2000, a taste of N.Y.’s Oscar party menu will be “preemed” by the committee of past Oscar winners who live in Gotham … Johnny Grant has planned to hand-carry the best film Oscar nominees to troops in the combat zone but the increase in battle action has cause the Dept. of Defense to ground Grant — but he will effect his “Foxhole Premieres” program by sending the tapes Wednesday to a waiting Air Force transport from March Air Force Base for transport to Afghanistan. “An American Celebration at Ford’s Theater” while not including any footage of 9-11, will include appearances by and footage of some U.S. Olympic medal winners and an emotional rendition of “This is the Moment.” The one-hour show airs 9 p.m., April 12 on ABC.

CAROL BURNETT, who has been in mourning since the death of her daughter Carrie Hamilton on Jan. 20, will now make the bittersweet trek to Chicago at week’s end for the start of rehearsals on “Hollywood Arms,” the play that Carrie and her mom wrote. Friend (and multi-Tony winner) Hal Prince directs at the Goodman Theater with Linda Lavin and Frank Wood to star. … Playwright Ron Clark heads to N.Y. to present his new musical comedy, “My Wife’s Name is Maurice” to Gotham producers, including Mel Brooks at the Dramatists’ Guild. Clark wrote the book with Raffy Short, who wrote the original French comedy on which the musical is based. Music and lyrics are by Donald Alan Siegal … Sharon Stone celebrated her birthday with Phil Bronstein at West Hollywood’s Matrix Theatre production of “Doing Judy,” Dan Evans’ play about a serial killer who’s been targeting Judy Garland impersonators. Stone was on hand to congrat the cast including one of “Judy’s ” impersonators, actor Todd Sherry, with whom she worked onstage in their hometown of Meadville, Pa. … Muhammad Ali and family at Matteo’s Sunday night delighted bar patrons by performing some magic for ’em. Also there, Cyd Charisse and Tony Martin. Cyd had just returned from Austin, Texas, where she was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame — on her 79th birthday.

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