TNT helping ‘Mayday’ into prod’n

GOOD MORNING: Can a hand-held missile bring down a passenger-filled jet? Some still believe that an errant U.S. military missile brought down the N.Y.-Paris-bound TWA jet in 1996. But 17 years earlier, in 1979, Nelson de Mille and Thomas Block’s book “Mayday” predicted a military missile error and followed the resultant drama. It will now be a TNT film produced by Richard Waltzer and Jerry Leiter and scripted by Kevin Lund and T.J. Scott. It’s not your traditional airline-in-jeopardy film. There are those on the ground who don’t want a safe landing for the crippled plane; nor does the airline’s owner. This story travels from Conn. to L.A.. “So, we shot it in Toronto,” Waltzer said. No stranger to Canadian filming, he recently completed “Coast to Coast” for Showtime. Director Paul Mazursky reined Richard Dreyfuss, Judy Davis and Max Schell through this route. Currently Leiter and Bob Shapiro are producing “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” starring Lindsay Lohan for Disney — also shooting in Toronto, and doubling for New Jersey.

I’M VERY PROUD — but I cut him out of my picture,” Scott Caan, 27, laughingly told me about editing his father, James Caan (64) out of his (Scott’s) first directorial feature, “Dallas 362.” The pic stars Scott along with Kelly Lynch, Jeff Goldblum and Shawn Hatosy. The “semi-autobiographical film” was also written by Caan, fils. Kip Konwiser, who produces with his brother Kern, says he was so impressed with Scott, he put the package (and financing) together three days after they met. And he’d do more pix with young Caan “anytime.” Scott tells me he’s now writing “Six Degrees,” about the relationship of three couples. Papa Jimmy was on the set one day to observe his son — and had one scene — which producer Konwiser thought “slowed the action.” Pic was screened last week to a turnaway crowd at 20th’s Little Theater. Scott himself couldn’t get in. And the studio Fire Dept. had to cool down the seatless crowd. Caan, pere, meanwhile, is busy enough these days, having wound the comedy “Elf” with Will Farrell, the drama “Dogville” with Nicole Kidman and started his NBC series “Las Vegas” … Currently the Konwiser freres are in Travisa, Italy, filming the docu “The Globalization of Basketball” with the NBA, Nike, UNICEF and Showtime. Magic Johnson and Penny Marshall are exec producers of the three, one-hour shows.

JACK NICHOLSON WOUND his New York scene for his untitled co-starrer with Diane Keaton in Central Park and is now in Paris for the finale. He hopes to catch up with Roman Polanski — if he isn’t on vacation with his family. Nicholson said he’d follow the filming in Paris by taking his children on vacation with him to the south of France … Christopher Lee phoned during his brief stopover in L.A. He recently wound the sequel “Crimson Rivers 2: Angels of the Apocalypse” in France. He was en route to New Zealand for added scenes in “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” playing Saruman and would continue on to Australia for the third “Star Wars” seg, playing Count Dooku for six weeks. He says he hasn’t seen a script, “and I haven’t the faintest idea of what’s to happen.” He returns to L.A. in August … Diana Douglas is heading to the Karlovy Vary film fest to introduce “It Runs in the Family.”

SOMETHING SPECIAL for the opening night (Oct. 23) of the Walt Disney Concert Hall: John Williams’ “Soundings,” impressions of architect Frank Gehry’s architectural creation, will feature percussionist-designer Chas Smith bowing on steel plates 6 feet tall. Williams will share batoning honors with Esa-Pekka Salonen. Williams, of course, has many standard (for him) dates ahead, including his July 4th stand with the National Symphony, to be shown on PBS. He also conducts the Marine Band, the oldest musical organization in the U.S., on July 13 at the Kennedy Center, next the Hollywood Bowl, July 29-30, and three concerts with the Boston Symphony … Bill Cosby, with 20th-Fox’s OK, would like to extend an invitation to Carlos Santana to score his “Fat Albert ” live-action and animated movie. On Oct. 23, Cosby’s next book “I Am What I Ate … And I’m Frightened” (Harper Collins) hits the (Pepto Bismol) stalls … Bob Goen’s Toyota Invitational Golf Tourney at the U.S. Air Force Acad’s Eisenhower golf course in Colorado Springs, Colo., raised $200,000 for the local Make-A-Wish Foundation … The U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, aircraft carrier CVN 76, will be launched July 12 at the Norfolk, Va., Navy base. Three days of festivities surround the occasion at which Nancy Reagan will host one of the events. Also on hand from L.A. will be Michael Reagan and A.C. Lyles … John Meroney’s readying a docu on Reagan’s Hollywood career. It’s called “American Destiny,” and Merony says he has details, long-buried in the SAG vaults and authenticated for him by the Guild’s Valerie Varos. “This docu will use primary sources of pristine film — not the usual secondary material and footage that has been the basis for so many other news shows, docus and books about Mr. Reagan,” Meroney tells me. Garth Friedrich of ICM is repping the package. Meroney’s also completing his book “Rehearsals for a Leading Role” for Little, Brown … And talking books, Olympia Dukakis tells about much of her life’s travails — and joys — in “Ask Me Again Tomorrow” (Harper Collins). Book was completed before her adventures on her most recent film, “Three Needles,” shot in South Africa and about the traffic of needles on the AIDS-infected continent. In one scene, their car fell off the road. “Only a stone wall kept us from going into a ravine. I had one foot on land and the one — nothing there!” Producer Brian Hofbauer fell into the gully. Dukakis also brought home a “souvenir” from the location — a parasite. Howcum she did the pic? Because Tom Fitzgerald had previously directed her in “The Event” … Ernie Hudson, who wound his stage return in August Wilson’s “King Hedley II” for Minnesota’s Penumbra Theater Co., returns to L.A. next week to start Aaron Spelling’s ABC’er “10-8” with Danny Nucci. Hudson plays a training officer and told me he has a badge from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Dept. He studied for and got the badge after he was roughed up by cops because of mistaken identity. He admits his sheriff’s card comes in handy … Among the many saddened by Buddy Hackett’s death: Jane (Morgan) and Jerry Weintraub. The Hacketts gave the Weintraubs their wedding dinner at the Hacketts’ home in Englewood, N.J., 40 years ago and have remained friends — and Malibu neighbors — all these years. Weintraub phoned his condolences from Amsterdam, one of the locations for “Oceans Twelve.” Others include Paris, London and Rome … And we’re off for a couple of weeks.

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