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Strictly personal news

Dick Van Patten tells me (on the phone) he has suffered a “slight stroke.” Although he admits to problems with both his left leg and arm, he sounded his inimitable cheery self as he added, “Other than that I’m feeling great. Everything else is O.K.” Van Patten, 77, started in the biz on B’way at the age of six and has taken bows in every showbiz medium. He recently made front page news when he successfully launched a line of pet foods called, “Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Pet Foods.”

Oscar-winning lyricist Hal David underwent heart valve replacement surgery Jan.4  at Cedars-Sinai  Medical  Center and is fully recuperating at home. David has received every major music award and is a member of the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. He’s a former president of ASCAP and serves on its board, which meets next month in L.A.

Scott Baio, who was the victim of a rumor falsely reporting his death in 1997, will star in the series pilot, “Let’s Kill Scott Baio” for VH1. The series reveals the length to which a network will go to turn a low-rated reality show into a hit by falsely diagnosing its star (Baio) with a fictitious terminal disease. Baio plays the “dying man who would react as only a dying man would have the courage to say and do.” The show, from Windmill Entertainment, was created by company topper Craig J. Nevius, writer Bruce Clark and co-exec producer Nancy Valen, who gave us the reality show, “Chasing Farrah.” Farrah Fawcett tells me working with this group was a worthwhile life and professional experience.

Strictly legit: Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” is the latest presentation by the Center Theater Group’s artistic director Michael Ritchie  and another reason to fight the freeway traffic to see first class theater.  Sir Peter Hall, directing for his sixth time, told an applauding group of first niters at the Ahmanson that he’ll be back for a seventh outing because daughter Judy wants to do “12th Night.” Of course Ritchie was happy to hear the news of a venture for a future season. First, Hall heads to London and the Haymarket with Judi Dench to star in “Hay Fever.” Lynn Redgrave, who stars in “Earnest,” gives L.A.  theatergoers another treat when she appears additionally — for one night only on Feb.27 — in “Nightingale,” in which she recalls memories of her maternal grandmother. Meanwhile “Earnest” heads out from L.A.to Columbus, New Haven, Phoenix and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

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