Lansbury brings down house, heads for hospital

GOOD MORNING: Angela Lansbury, who tripped over a cable heading to the Hollywood Bowl stage Friday for the final bow at the Stephen Sondheim 75th-birthday concert, will undergo knee-replacement surgery Thursday. She told me she originally injured her left knee on “The Santa Clause” in 1991. She admits the fall was “scary, but I was more embarrassed.” Earlier she and Len Cariou brought down the house with “A Little Priest” from “Sweeney Todd.” She admits the stage return was “like my old days on the Tony Awards. My true place is in the theater — the rest is fun!” … Angela will be hospitalized five days and in physical therapy for a month. Fortunately, she is not skedded to start any productions immediately … Barbra Streisand, who with Warren Beatty and Marilyn Bergman presented a plaque to Sondheim, had made her first appearance singing at the Bowl in 1963 with Dave Brubeck, then in 1998 with Sammy Davis Jr. Despite the tumultuous reception, Barbra did not sing this time — she’d just wound an album with Barry Gibb. And while Warren Beatty also did not sing — Paul Williams whispered to me that Warren had indeed sung in “Ishtar.” It was one of those rare nights and it raised $167,000 for the Children Will Listen program, which aims to bring children into the world of theatrical musicals … Carol Burnett sparked “Not Getting Married,” backed by the L.A. Phil, whose drummer for the concert was her husband, Brian Miller … Burnett, whose “Once Upon a Mattress” airs on ABC during the holidays, now is talking to CBS about her legiter “Hollywood Arms” (co-written with daughter Carrie Hamilton) … The Bergmans-Cy Coleman-Larry Gelbart musical “In the Pocket” (formerly “Like Jazz”) bows on Broadway next spring with Dirk Decloedt directing, Maurice Hines choreographing and Tran America producing.

BILLY FRIEDKIN’S Lions Gate “Bug” company, shooting in New Orleans, postponed Monday’s filming start to give locals a chance to make evacuation preparations for hurricane-turned-tropical storm Dennis. But the system detoured, and when I spoke with Friedkin Monday not a drop of rain had fallen, it was sunny and 92 degrees. So her rehearsed the company starring Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr. and Lynn Collins. Friedkin says the challenging film “could be the most difficult one I’ve ever done.” The pic’s based on Tracy Letts’ play and Friedkin next directs Letts’ “Man From Nebraska” at South Coast Rep. He’ll return to opera with “Aida” in Turin, two more at the Kennedy Center and “Salome” in Munich next year. Friedkin and wife Sherry Lansing had just returned from a month in Israel, where he directed the opera “Samson and Delilah.” Sherry immediately went into committee meetings of the Independent Citizen Oversight Committee, which is working on the disbursement of the $3 billion already voted to go to stem-cell research in California. With the recent passage in the House of a bill funding stem-cell research and the Senate looking to follow, California looks likely to benefit from the national legislation also.

DIRECTOR VINCENT SHERMAN celebrates his 99th birthday at the MPTF in Woodland Hills on Saturday. I spoke with the director of some of WB’s greatest hits starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Sherman says of his move to the Country House, “I feel fine — but at 99 — you never know.” He has given interviews in the WB DVD release of “The Joan & Bette” collection, which includes his “Mr. Skeffington” and “The Damned Don’t Cry.” He attended the Academy screening of “War of the Worlds” with Francine York. And isn’t it time the film community honored Sherman? … Sylvia (Mrs. Frank) Cooper celebrated her 90th birthday with an exhibition (and sale) of some of her remarkable sculptures at the BGH Gallery of Bergamot Station in Santa Monica … Zsa Zsa Gabor is home following surgery for a blocked artery, daughter Francesca Hilton reports. Despite the complaints Zsa Zsa filed against her daughter, Francesca has visited her and speaks to her regularly on the phone … Jack Carter is home recuping from right hip surgery and says he’ll be OK in a couple of weeks … Among those at the Bel-Air Country Club post-mass for June Haver at St. Martin of Tours in Brentwood: Anne Jeffreys, Ann Rutherford, Robert Wagner, Joan Leslie, Jayne Meadows, Mitzi Gaynor, Jane Withers, Betty Lynn, Mary Carlisle, A.C. Lyles … Tonight’s screening of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” at the Academy benefits Vista del Mar’s Child & Family Services.

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