GOOD MORNING: Last night, while our planes were carrying out their missions vs. Saddam Hussein in Iraq, I put in a call to Ramat Gan, the small town in Israel that was Scud-bombed by Iraq during the last “war.” It’s the hometown of Israeli filmmaker Assi Dayan. He told me, “It’s not such a big deal here”–even though the original Scuds landed (and killed) just three blocks away from his home. Assi, like all Israelis, served 3 1/2 years in the military–including the Six Day War. But during the Iraq war, Moshe Dayan’s son reminded, “It was the first time (Israeli) civilians knew what war was like”–the military had been accustomed to living with it. “It’s the same problem we’ve been living with for 100 years,” he said matter-of-factly. Assi D. is the writer-director of “Life According to Agfa,” the official Israeli entry in the Oscars’ foreign-language film category. It’s presented by Arnon Milchan and the Israeli Academy of Motion Pictures. Although set in a Tel Aviv bar, the story “has an international language”–including sex, drugs, aggression and a particularly violent finale, which, Dayan told me, “can happen anywhere.” Meanwhile, he also admits, there were some in Israel who were “p.o.’d” over his ending. The budget was $ 400,000, financed by the government and two other sources. If it gets an Oscar nomination , the Israeli government will put up $ 350,000 for his next movie, said Dayan. He next takes “Life According to Agfa” to the Berlin fest competition.
IF THE U.S. DOES AWAY with Saddam Hussein, we’ll do away with him in our movie.” It was “Hot Shots Deux” director Jim Abrahams, responding to us yesterday from the lavish palace set on the 20th lot where we learned Saddam Hussein, as played by thesp Gerry Haleva, had completed a sequence with Lloyd Bridges as the U.S. president. “But,” Abrahams admitted, “Saddam is a raving lunatic–and it’s impossible to predict what he’ll do.” As the world has sadly learned … Full-blooded Cherokee Wes Studi, excellent as the villain Magua in “The Last of the Mohicans,” was set by Quincy Jones to open the HBO Inaugural special, repping Native Americans, Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial. Studi will speak in both Cherokee and English. He’s a spokesman for Ted Turner’s new Native American series, in which Jane Fonda will also be involved … David Wolper receives the Martin Luther King award from Coretta Scott King, Sunday in Atlanta. Wolper’s cited for the “Roots” minis and the upcoming “Queen,” which continues the saga of Alex Haley’s family. And on Jan. 27, Wolper and Denzel Washington are inducted into the Boys & Girls Club of America Hall of Fame … Lolita Davidovich will co-star with Sharon Stone and Richard Gere in Par’s “Intersection,” to be directed by Mark Rydell … Director Michael Kidd saw his first performance of Neil Simon’s musicalized “Goodbye Girl” Tuesday at the Shubert in Chi and producer Manny Azenberg laughingly told me, “It’ll be another 15 years” before he (Manny) tackles another musical.” However, all’s cool with the cast, Azenberg assures there’ll be no changes–but, one new number definitely goes in, “two probably.” They’ve got three weeks before going to N.Y. , with two weeks more to get the scenery ready and “seven weeks if necessary. And we’ll delay a week if needed,” he said … The Carol Burnett-Charlton Heston “Love Letters” combo at the New Mexico Rep in Santa Fe, bowing Feb. 2, is sold out. Ditto their Albuquerque date Feb. 7. Heston is Burnett’s fourth “Love” leading man–following Leslie Nielsen, Tony Roberts and Tom Selleck … Pierre Cossette took N.Y. Mayor David Dinkins to supper at 21 after Hizzonner’s bow as Wiley Post in “The Will Rogers Follies”–“to talk a personal management contract with him,” laughed Pierre.
LEE SOLTERS HAS RESIGNED as Barbra Streisand’s personal press representative after 33 years. “I was not asked to resign, I was not forced to resign,” Solters assures. “This is my unqualified decision”… Streisand is working on her “Back to B’way” album (Columbia) and deciding which of six songs (mebbe all?) to sing at the Inaugural Gala on the 19th. One song is definite, as noted here earlier–“God Bless America”… Carl Weathers, celebrating his birthday today, wound his “Street Justice” season in Vancouver, heads to San Diego to debut-direct a “Silk Stalkings” seg … ICM’s Jeff Berg and Miramax toast “The Crying Game’s” suddenly hot director Neil Jordan at the WGA tonight … Albert Brooks signed with ICM; Herb Nanas is his personal manager … It was comedians’ night at Nicky Blair’s: Milton Berle, Red Buttons, Jack Carter, Norm Crosby, Shecky Greene and Jan Murray … Indie producer Dana Cioffi and husband Russell Schwartz, prez of Gramercy Pictures, welcomed son Zane Thomas S. Saturday … Nicole and Brian Avery celebrate their 25th wedding anni at the Hotel Bel Air … Dodo and Stan Meyer celebrate their 46th wedding anni at Chasen’s tonight … Diane Ladd plays Patrick Swayze’s mother in the untitled Touchstone pic directed by Darrel Roodt … Ladd segues to star in the title role of “Mother” with Frank LaLoggia and Diana Rigg. She’ll next be seen in “The Cemetery Club.” And Monday, Ladd hosts a Georgetown cocktailer for Bill Clinton’s mother, Mrs. Virginia Kelly.