GOOD MORNING: “I want to tap my way to heaven,” Debbie Reynolds told me as we reminisced Monday about Donald O’Connor. “And he went out tap dancing.” Debbie had just returned home to Beverly Hills after a weekend gig at the Magic Casino in Biloxi, Miss. She was told about O’Connor’s death just as she was going onstage. They had been lifelong friends in addition to working together in films. They toured together in clubs for two years under the billing “Together Again.” When she learned he was at the Motion Picture Country hospital, she immediately called. “He got on the phone and sounded clear. I asked him, ‘Are there any pretty girls out there?’ He laughed and said, ‘Sure.’ He always liked sweets, so I sent him a box of chocolates,” Debbie admitted. … “I work whenever they offer me a job,” Reynolds said modestly of her own work. And the jobs are plentiful and well-paying. She even had offers to return to B’way in “42nd Street” and to join the road company of “Hello Dolly.” But Reynolds declined: “I don’t want to do eight shows a week,” she said. “Club and casino dates are fine — the money’s good and it’s fun. Performing should be a pleasure, not a grind. I’m having fun and I’m 71.” She appears tonight at the Kodak Theater in the 4th annual “Women Rock — Songs From the Movies.” She’ll sing “Tammy” from the film of the same name and she’ll duet “Good Morning, Good Morning” with Mandy Moore. It’s from “Singin’ in the Rain” — with Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly. She’ll also appear at the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s “Smart Set” fund-raiser Oct. 8. … Gloria O’Connor told me, “The care they (the Motion Picture and Television Hospital) gave Donald was fabulous.” While Donald’s burial Oct.4 will be private, his daughter Alicia tells me a memorial for the public will be set at a later date. In lieu of flowers the family said contributions can be made to the Professional Dancers Society and to the Motion Pictue and Television Fund.
WESLEY CLARK WILL BE HOSTED by Lyn and Norman Lear and Laura and Larry David at a coctailer ($2,000 per eprson) at the Lears’ home Wednesday . Norman says he’s currently supporting both Clark and Howard Dean. He’s also busy editing a documentary to encourage young people to register to vote. … Arnold Schwarzenegger lunched with his former Planet Hollywood boss/partner Robert Earl at Schatzi on Main, the Santa Monica eatery Arnold still frequents on the monthly Monday Cigar Night. He’s still a regular at the restaurant, which he sold in 1998. Earl was in town scouring Hollywood eateries and clubs to see which ones he would like to invite to the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas next year. … Writer-director Lynn Roth, who spent June at Tel Aviv U. conducting a class on film writing and producing, has teamed with Marilyn Hall to film Amos Oz’s “Panther in the Basement” — hopefully in Israel. They meet next week with Turkish partners to talk financing.
CONGRATS TO ALAN BERLINER: “Thirty Years of Berliner Photography in Hollywood” will be celebrated Oct.29 at the ArcLight in Hollywood with a display of photos taken by Alan, his son Alex, protege Eric Charbonneau and his staff and family. I have stood alongside the Berliners through all of these years as we covered the doings of Hollywood. Alan’s one-man kitchen darkrom has expanded to his two-story building on La Brea, where photos from around the world are serviced to publications around the world. These include Daily Variety. The building also houses a museum of Berliner’s museum-quality photos from these 30 years. … And congrats to photographer Phil Stern, whose coffee-table book (10 pounds) “Phil Stern: A Life’s Work” (PowerHouse Books, $75) covers his life from Army photographer on WWII’s landing beaches to the beaches of Malibu — from dogfaces to the most beautiful women to ever face a lens — as well as the men who made Hollywood what it is today. Phil, stricken by emphysema, now carries a tank of oxygen as well as a camera. Congrats to all these lensmen, who have given this world a true picture.
“ALL OF A SUDDEN!” Burt Reynolds happily exclaimed to me of his recent run of new roles. He was on a stop here in Hollywood as he heads to N.Y. to guestar in NBC’s “Ed.” He turns around and heads out to New Zealand to star in Par’s “Without a Paddle,” which he says may be somewhat reminscent of “Deliverance.” He follows these dramatics with a comedy, “Fish in a Bowl” to lense in the U.S. He says Jerry Lewis may co-star. “I will phone him to urge him to do it — he’s been so kind to me over the years,” Reynolds said. The actor caught up with old pals Dom DeLuise, Charles Durning and Johnny Mathis during his L.A. stopover, and tells me he plans to again set up residence in L.A. (though his permanent home will always be in Florida). “I have to be out here,” he realized. … Kirk Douglas wings to D.C. to receive the Victory Award on Nov.18 from the National Rehabilitation Hospital “for exceptional strength and courage in the face of adversity. Patricia Neal, who also suffered a stroke and fought back, makes the presentation. On Nov. 24, Douglas heads to N.Y. to receive the Public Awareness Award from the American Legacy Foundation. … Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas celebrated their mutual birthday with fellow Sept. 25 birthday-er Ron Meyer here in L.A. — prior to tonight’s preem of ‘Intolerable Cruelty,” in which Catherine co-stars with George Clooney. … Ben Affleck, the Dixie Chicks and Heather Thomas Brittenham and Skip Brittenham will be honored by the People for the American Way Foundation’s Spirit of Liberty Awards on Oct.14 at the BevHilton. Paul Begala emcees and the presenters are Harrison Ford (to the Brittenhams), Bill Maher (to the Dixie Chicks) and Kevin Smith (to Affleck). … Geraldo Rivera and Rita Katz, the intrepid investigator who disguised herself to inflitrate phony U.S.-based charities funneling cash to terrorists) were set by Rabbi David Baron to speak on the legacy of their fathers at the Yom Kippur services of the Temple Shalom for the Arts at the Wilshire Theater. … Marilyn and Harry Lewis limo’d veteran publicist Frank Liberman, Audrey Totter and Liz Fraser from their residences at the Motion Picture and TV Fund’s Country House in Woodland Hills to the new Kate Mantilini eatery in the Warner Center. Liberman was best man at the Lewises’ wedding — and worked at Warner Bros. when Harry was a contract player at the studio. … While praise agent Bobby Zarem made the front page of the New York Times (in a color foto yet!), his brother, plastic surgeon Dr. Harvey A. Zarem, appeared on ABC’s “Complete Makeover” preem seg and returns again Thursday. Harvey Z. will also appear on the “Today” show. … Pierce Brosnan and wife Keeley Shaye Smith present Annual Guardian Awards for In Defense of Animals (IDA) to Dr. Jane Goodall and Gretchen Wyler on Oct.16 at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica. Quentin “the Miracle Dog” also makes an appearance. … And Paul Verhoeven joins Bernardo Bertolucci and Vittorio Storaro receive the Mensajero del Sol Foundation Awards in Madrid on Oct. 12 at the Circulo de Bellas Artes. The award honors “the human qualities reflected in their work and careers.”