Blighty’s beauty persists through the ages

IT’S A GOOD MORNING back in Hollywood after a tour of England following the star-packed preem of London’s Planet Hollywood to a “live” crowd of more than 40 ,000 … Three who couldn’t join the Arnold Schwarzenegger-Sylvester Stallone-Bruce Willis bash by fellow owners Keith Barish and Robert Earl were Anthony Hopkins, Debra Winger and director Richard Attenborough, shooting “Shadowlands” at Shepperton. Hopkins also spent a day shooting a closing scene for “The Remains of the Day,” and next hies to Canada for Ed Zwick’s “Legends of the Fall.” And then to Battle Creek, Mich., for Alan Parker’s “Road to Wellville” playing fitness king John Harvey Kellogg, older brother of the Corn Flakes king, W.K. Kellogg (based on T. Coraghessan Boyle’s novel) … While in London we met up with the charming Mark Birley whose Annabel’s and Harry’s Bar clubs remain two of the world’s elite meeting-eating spots … And so we left London and headed out into the incomparable rolling English countryside of the Cotswolds where sheep loll in velvety Kelly-green grass with the bluest of skies and puffiest of clouds overhead. With guide Nicholas Wilson pointing out every 500-600-year-old pub and manor, we arrived in Great Milton, about eight miles southeast of Oxford at the 15th century Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons. Its modernization — swimming pool, tennis courts — lavish rooms, etc. do not detract from its charm of the ages. Le Manoir’s headed and owned by world-renowned two-star Michelin chef and author Raymond Blanc. He has also combined food and music concerts on the flower-bordered lawns of the Manoir and is now planning to add a nutrition center in addition to his world-famous gourmet dining rooms. He lives for food and the menus prove it. Mel Gibson, fresh from the hamburger menu of London’s Planet Hollywood, was arriving at the Manoir as we were leaving.

IT WAS NEXT OFF in the direction of Bath and six miles from the ancient city, a stop at the magnificent Georgian (1720) country house, Lucknam Park, on the southern edge of the Cotswolds. It is approached by a milelong drive lined with beech trees surrounded again by the lush English lawns with everything in bloom. Every view is a picture postcard including the interiors whose rooms boast enormous, high ceilings. And within the walls of the old garden — a modern leisure spa with pool, saunas, etc. As we left, Lucknam Park was awaiting the arrival of Princess Di’s stepmother, Lady Raine Spencer and fiance, the Count Jean Francois de Chambrun who were planning their July wedding reception here … Stonehenge, Corsham Court, Longleat, Salisbury Cathedral were a few of the sights we visited while driving southeast to New Milton in Hampshire to next arrive at Brigitte and Martin Skan’s Chewton Glen set between the New Forest and the sea. The “New” Forest by the way is almost 1,000-years-old — and the wild horses, their foals, burros and feathered friends roam freely, curiously coming up to your car windows. But Chewton Glen with its hotel, health and country club is the site for some of the world’s top business enclaves and historic signings. For instance, Variety’s parent Reed and Elsevier held their merger meet here last year … Chewton Glen owner Martin Skan is no stranger to Hollywood — having been an exchange student at North Hollywood’s Harvard School in his senior high school year with sons of Frank Capra and Bob Mitchum … The colors of the rhododendrons and azaleas stretching endlessly defy description. Their beauty is matched by the decor of Chewton Glen’s interiors by Brigitte Skan. Anastasia and Roderick Mann were visitors the week before our arrival and we confirmed their recommendation.

“GRAMMY N.Y.C. HOST COMMITTEE — 1994 Grammy Awards” read the baseball caps being worn by the staff at Jonathan Tisch’s Regency hotel — celebrating his coup (he chairs the committee). We arrived as the east had won the March 1 event for RCMH. Staying at the Regency was “Cheers” alumnus George Wendt, appearing Off B’way in “Wild Men.” And Barry Levinson was also at the Regency, scouting N.Y. for “Quiz Kids”… At Elaine’s, Robert Altman arrived after screening “Short Cuts” which bows at the N.Y. Film Fest. He’ll cast star cameos like Lauren Bacall and Sally Kellerman in his “Pret A Porte” film of the fashion world shooting July in Paris … On our American Airlines flight from N.Y. to L.A. were Cindra and Alan Ladd Jr. and Jay Kanter fresh from the Paris UIP meets. A topic of their conversations — the China market. Also on the flight: Lew Wasserman and Sid Sheinberg of Universal, Martin Davis and Stanley Jaffe of Par … The Bob Hope-NBC talks start in earnest next week. Four hours of shows are under discussion, Hope told me at his gala 90th birthday party on the real date (May 29). The web confirms the talks. One spec could be “Bob Hope Around The World”– from China to Moscow with stars to match. Hope’s left arm is in a sling following a fall over a dog barrier in his home Tuesday — but it didn’t stop Hope from leaving Wednesday for dates in Winston Salem and Amarillo. “I’ll put my hand in my pocket,” he laughed, “like I’m counting my money.” Details on the Hope birthday party and other stories on “How I Spent My Vacation” Friday.