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Bushel of oaters head to bigscreen

GOOD MORNING: Not one, not two — but a dozen bigscreen Western features are being developed by Pierre Cossette and his expanded company. The oaters by established Western writers/moviemakers are an outcropping of Pierre’s success with the legit “Will Rogers Follies.” The successful national company follows the L.A. run, and a troupe will head to Japan. Plus, a permanent company will bow in Branson next May with a version cut by 20 minutes … Following Wednesday night’s smash opening here at the Pantages, Cossette was on hand yesterday morning in front of the theater to participate in festivities for Keith Carradine’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Carradine and company received the longest standing ovation I’ve witnessed at an L.A. legit opening night in a long time … Carradine, who received an Oscar for his “I’m Easy” song in “Nashville,” in which he also co-starred, noted, “This (star) means more to me than the Oscar. It’s for a body of work — if this was a perfect world, I should retire now!” He was surrounded by wife Sandra, children Cade and Sorel and brothers David and Robert. Johnny Grant and Bob Welch officiated. Carol Burnett joined Cossette in praising Carradine and I brought him reminiscences and wishes from Angie Dickinson, who had presented (with Burt Bacharach) the Oscar to Keith March 29, 1976 … Gregory Peck, whose stentorian tones as Flo Ziegfeld reverberate through theaters where “Follies” plays, was missing opening night. He is sidelined with sciatica. Greg showed up on crutches earlier Wednesday to receive his Legion d’Honneur at Beverly Hills’ City Hall. He didn’t want to disappoint those who had arranged gala Bastille Day festivities. Peck expects to be up and around in a week. How’d he injure himself? Planting a tree in his garden … Bizness in the “Will Rogers” N.Y. company (starring Larry Gatlin) has gone up since Mickey Rooney joined the cast as Rogers’ father, Martin Richards reported at the opening. Richards also told me “Dodsworth” with Peck starring is close to a reality at WB. And that “Chicago” is heading to Miramax … Talking about Angie Dickinson earlier, she told me she was “knocked out” when she saw the August Esquire, which covers her in a 1966 cheesecake shot (by Frank Bez). She’s “thrilled” with it … Other “Follies” first-niters included Cloris Leachman, who’s paged by producer Bob Banner to repeat her “Grandma Moses, An American Primitive” on B’way … Also, “Forever Plaid” is extended through Sept. 12 at the Canon … And “Catskills on B’way” bows at the Wilshire on Sept. 28.

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BURT REYNOLDS ASKS US ALL, “No matter what negative things you’ve read about my estranged wife Loni Anderson and myself, please don’t believe them all. I don’t.” It’s believed an upcoming gossip sheet carries an unpleasant story about ’em. But Burt admits, “I’ve been around long enough to know, thank God, that next month or next week my story will be on the bottom of the bird cage, hopefully replaced by something less harmful and more fun for the gossip junkies of the world.” He would “like to thank everyone who has been so supportive and kind to us both in and out of the press. I thank God every night for my friends and my family.” And he finale’d with, “There will be no further statements or comment on the relationship from me, no matter what is printed or commented on by the media.” Loni had nothing to add … Jim Garner, who starred in the “Maverick” WB series for five years, will join Mel Gibson in the bigscreen version to be directed by Dick Donner … Patti Davis is relocating to live in Connecticut. “I need a dramatic change,” she told me. “I’m 40 — and that’s a profound year in your life.” She’s completing “Bondage” for Simon & Schuster to be published in February. It’s about two women — no one we know. Things are now OK with her parents, she also affirmed … Merchant-Ivory’s “Thomas Jefferson in Paris” will star — Nick Nolte.

MARVIN DAVIS AND WIFE BARBARA are returning from the caper at Cap d’Antibes — with only one ring recovered to date from the “inside job” (per Marvin) heist … Now that the All-Star Game’s history, it’s time to turn our attention to the annual Hollywood Stars Night at Dodger Stadium, Aug. 14. Billy Crystal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be opposing captains. Joe Siegman and Jack Gilardi produce … George Steinbrenner helps out pal manager Stanley Kay by advertising the appearance of Kay’s all-girl big band Diva’s stand at N.Y.’s Tavern on the Green Aug. 10-15. The plug will appear on the Yankee scoreboard starting July 28 … Columbia is readying a box set of Johnny Mathis’ career from 1956 to the present, “The Music of Johnny Mathis, A Personal Collection,” in conjunction with his Carnegie Hall stand Oct. 7-9 … Producer Burt Rosen’s daughter Jacqueline Ashley marries Ari Meir Sunday at the Bel Air Bay Club … Melissa Prophet, of Adelson/Baumgarten, will wed Craig Baumgarten July 24 at Pebble Beach. Among friends attending will be Gary Adelson and Carrie Earle, who’ll wed in October … Helen Reddy hosts a fundraiser for the Make-a-Wish foundation Saturday at the Manhattan (Beach) Country Club.

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