Andrews reflects on ‘Poppins’

GOOD MORNING: “I can’t do it, I’m pregnant.” That was Julie Andrews’ reply to Walt Disney when he went backstage after seeing her in “Camelot” in 1961 and offered the unknown (to movies) Andrews the lead in “Mary Poppins.” Disney did indeed wait to do the film with her — and Dick Van Dyke and, as the saying goes, the rest was history. But when I talked with Julie and Dick on Tuesday I wondered howcum during these 40 years they never did another movie together? “No one asked us. And more’s the pity, we’re very fond of each other,” Julie admits. They loved filming together five days on the revived sets of Tony Walton for “Mary Poppins” (found on the Disney lot) for the bonus footage found in the 40th anni DVD “Mary Poppins” edition. At 79 and 69 respectively, Dick and Julie are still available to duo despite having full plates and offers. She heads out to 30-40 cities directing “The Boy Friend,” bowing first at the Goodspeed. She’s talking “The Princess Diaries 3” and “Shrek 3.” She’s in the middle of writing another children’s book — and her bio for Hyperion. She and daughter Emma are readying a live/animated series on “Dumpy the Dump Truck” with Sesame Street partnered at PBS. Dick is doing his first animated feature, “Curious George,” with Wes Farrell for Ron Howard. Also, the new “Batman” animated series playing the Commissioner to Adam West’s “Batman.” He and son Barry are readying to do four shows on Hallmark’s wheel of family shows. And on an unpublicized key, Dick is active at the L.A. Mission. We also reminisced about the Oscars received (five) for “Mary Poppins” and those ignored. Julie won, Dick wasn’t nominated. “My Fair Lady” won for picture, Rex Harrison for actor while Audrey Hepburn, played the role Julie made famous on stage, wasn’t nominated. Julie mourned the fact there’s no recording of her “My Fair Lady” on B’way. She never did it again. “But look what I got in return,” she says philosophically, “Mary Poppins.”

ALSO ON THE DVD and VHS scene is “Elf,” from New Line Home Entertainment. Bob Newhart admits the reason he did it was because of his grandchildren — and the script (David Berenbaum). “It’s a perennial.” (He also owns a piece of it). Newhart says he enjoyed making the movie with Will Farrell. Between takes they had a good time talking about what TV was like in Newhart’s halcyon days (two series of six and eight years respectively) and Will could talk about “Saturday Night Live.” “And there was plenty to talk about both,” laughs Newhart. After the holidays he again heads out doing standup in clubs across the country. “Why would I ever stop making people laugh,” he asks … “Finding Neverland” director Marc Forster was talking to me on the phone Wednesday shortly after he’d learned of his film winning the National Board of Review. It was also one of our favorite films. Forster recalled how surprised he was when “Harvey offered me the film — after ‘Monster’s Ball.’ There was such a difference between the two!” He said Weinstein “was very respectful of my work — and he never interfered. At the end, he embraced it and loved it.” Producer Richard Gladstein was “very pleasantly surprised.” Forster hopes to again work with the cast of “Finding Neverland.” “We became a family while making it.” Forster just completed winding the mix at George Lucas’ Skywalker on his latest film, “Stay,” and next starts “Stranger Than Fiction” in Chicago starring Will Farrell and Ann Thompson.

NATIONAL TREASURE” DIRECTOR Jon Turteltaub is in Rome after stops in Germany with the American-history backgrounded action film. Foreign reaction has been terrif. “You don’t have to be an Egyptian to like ‘The Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and so you don’t have to be just an American to enjoy American landmarks.” And there are plenty of ’em in the multi-locationed “National Treasure.” I asked Jon if he’d next tackle an easier film. “There’s no such thing as something easy,” he said. “I’ve never met a director who said making a movie was easy.” … “Meet the –“: Dustin Hoffman rushed from St. John’s, where he welcomed the arrival of his first grandson, Augustus Culligan, to the press junket for “Meet the Fockers” in which he and his movie wife Barbra Streisand faced the press along with the “family” Ben Stiller, Teri Polo. Robert DeNiro and Blythe Danner The baby’s happy parents are Jenna (Hoffman) and Seamus Culligan … It was SRO at Nobu Malibu restaurant for Michael Moore and ditto at the nearby Diesel Bookstore, Tuesday night. And Wednesday at Ago, the turnout for Karen Kramer’s lunch was also a turnaway crowd. Moore tells me Harvey and Bob Weinstein have “gone far out” bringing him here for the week on the “Fahrenheit 9/11” Oscar campaign. He says the drug companies have put out directives to employees to report to ’em if Moore tries to query ’em for his docu, “Sicko.” … Mike Nichols is OK after treatment for a compressed disc and will be at rehearsals in Chicago this weekend for “Monty Python’s Spamalot” which starts previews Dec. 21 for a Jan. 9 bow — and is already sold out a month in advance. The N.Y. bow is March 7 at the Shubert, whose décor is already converted to a castle … Chuck Fries and Irv Wilson’s book, “We’ll Never Be Young Again,” a collection of celebs memories of JFK, goes the theatrical route with a Dec. 5 reading at the Odyssey, with John DiFusco directing … Rabbi David Wolpe signs his “Floating Takes Faith — Ancient Wisdom for a Modern World” Sunday at the new Dutton’s on Canon. The book contains material Kirk Douglas and he studied “and some of the lessons we learned together,” he reports … Kevin Spacey plays the Wiltern, Monday on his “Beyond the Sea” tour on which Peter Cincotti, who plays Dick Behrke in the pic, will accompany at the piano. They’ll also perform together Dec. 8 at the “Beyond the Sea”‘ post- preem (Ziegfeld) party at the Starlight Roof Ballroom at the Waldorf.

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