‘Cop III’ displays spectacle for Wasserman

GOOD MORNING: What was MCA’s Lew Wasserman doing on the set of a Paramount picture last week? He was visiting a spectacular scene for the Eddie Murphy starrer “Beverly Hills Cop III,” which is shooting on Universal’s giant Stage 37 . (Paramount’s lot is full and this Bob Rehme-Mace Neufeld movie is renting space at U while their other movie, “Clear and Present Danger,” is renting stage space at Sony.) Wasserman was wearing an I.D. badge — as if everyone doesn’t know him — and was invited because director John Landis’ unique set boasts 11 Animatronic prehistoric beasts: Tyrannosaurus rex, saber-toothed tigers, and even velociraptors. Great shades of “Jurassic Park.” Steven Spielberg also gets an invite to visit. “Beverly Hills Cop’s” “park” is a “Land of the Dinosaurs” ride created for the amusement park in which Eddie Murphy’s pursuing the bad guys (“They’re Americans for a change,” laughs Landis.) It’s the movie’s grand finale … Small cars on tracks weave their way through an intricate ice cavern designed by Michael Seymour (“Aliens”). The enormous prehistoric creatures menace the passengers as they go by. The beasts “breathe,” roar, bare giant teeth, roll their eyes, reach out and — well, you get the picture. They are the creations of dinosaur renters Dynamation and Kokoro. I was impressed. So was Wasserman. He told Landis, “We’ll let the tram (from the Universal Studios Hollywood Tour) ride through here!” Landis’ office has been on the Universal lot since 1977 and “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” “Tell me when he (Landis) is going to do something for us again,” said Wasserman, who headed off to a lunch with Florida’s Gov. Lawton Chiles. Universal, you recall, has a major interest in Florida as well … Landis says he doesn’t know his next movie — but two weeks after he winds “Cop” he’ll direct a seg of his HBO series “Dream On.” His “Weird Science” series is also going full steam ahead …”Beverly Hills Cop III” had been shooting exterior scenes at Paramount’s Great America Amusement Park in Santa Clara. They had been turned down by Knott’s Berry Farm … Paramount brought home the 500 stuffed animals used in the amusement park scenes — and donated them to children’s Christmas charities.

IT’S NO SECRET that director Landis and Eddie Murphy ended tensely on “Coming to America.” But that’s behind them and they are even talking several far-out future projects …”Cop III” has been so long in the preparing — several teams of writers, producers and directors — that Landis says the charges against the production are incredible. He laughingly (?) says even some haircuts found their way into costs. But, with it all, he says the below-the-line cost will be $ 23 million-$ 24 million. And I figure the total, with Eddie’s $ 15 million, in the $ 40 million neighborhood … Murphy, who will be 33 on his next birthday (April 3), says this is the toughest physical movie he’s ever made — more fights, running, jumping, falling, etc. But he loves it. Although his dressing room was spilling over with candy and junk food, he notes, “I never touch any of it — it’s for you.” He laughed that inimitable Axel Foley laugh. “I’ll limit it to one (laugh) in this movie,” he smiled. The Axel Foley character could continue in movies apart from “Beverly Hills Cop” a la James Bond or Indiana Jones, says Landis. Murphy enthuses, “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.” He credits wife Nicole and their daughter Bria (4) and son Miles (1) — and they already have a name, Shane, for a third child when/if he/she arrives … Among Murphy’s many plans are “Fences,” for which Forest Whitaker is being talked to direct. James Earl Jones will definitely be a part of the movie. Eddie would play the older brother. Another pic planned is “Vampire in Brooklyn,” with him in the title role … Murphy was saddened by the death of Don Ameche following the passing earlier of Ralph Bellamy. Murphy worked with the two of them in “Trading Places” and told me he felt honored to listen to their stories of the great days in Hollywood. Murphy is also saddened by the Michael Jackson story. “All of us black children used to imitate the Jacksons. I pray he is innocent.”

“CONTINUE LAUGHING” is now being written by Carl Reiner, 27 years after his first novel, “Enter Laughing,” which became a play and then a movie, with Jose Ferrer, Shelley Winters, Elaine May, Jack Gilford, Reni Santoni — also Don Rickles and Rob Reiner … Carl and Estelle Reiner celebrated their 50th wedding anni at the Bel Air hotel with longtime friends on hand — including the man who introduced them, Paul Petroff, and best man Bernie Hern. Rob, Annie and Lucas Reiner led the warm and touching toasts and entertainment by pals including Dom DeLuise, Dick Van Dyke, Larry Gelbart, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Neil Simon, Jack Riley and George Shapiro.