Nicholson floored by AFI award

GOOD MORNING: First reaction from Jack Nicholson on learning he was chosen to receive the 1994 American Film Institute Life Achievement award: “Have they spoken to Mr. Brando yet?” Nicholson considers Marlon the patron saint of actors. I could write a book on the number of times Nicholson has nixed most awards, honors, toastings, etc. But this time, when Bob Daly called to tell Nicholson of the AFI’er, he admits, “You could have knocked me over with a feather.” Nicholson’s enjoying a vacation with his two babies at the beach with no plans to work until next year, when Sean Penn directs him in “The Crossing Guard.” Jack liked Penn’s work on “Indian Runner”… A four-hour mini on the life of Elizabeth Taylor (only four hours?) is being readied for NBC by producer Lester Persky, who won an Emmy for his six-hour “Jackie.” Persky first readies “Stella,” the vidversion of Peter Wyden’s book, to be filmed in both Germany and Poland with script by Ernest Kinoy. Persky follows with Edvard Radzinsky’s “The Last Tsar,” to be made with Disney … Lee Iacocca’s showbiz bow, foretold here, becomes official Sunday when he and Pierre Cossette announce their 50-50 partnership in Branson’s Will Rogers Theater, to bow “The Will Rogers Follies” April 1 — with Pat Boone starring in a three-month stand. He’ll be followed by Larry Gatlin. Cossette tapes his Harry Connick Jr. CBS Christmas show Oct. 31 at the Pantages for Dec. 24 airing, with Carol Burnett and Randy Travis to guest. And Nov. 14 Cossette delivers “The 35th Grammy Awards Anniversary Show” to CBS. Andrew Solt produces-directs the show, which will be 75% clips, 25% live. Pierre is also readying the B’way bow of the Hank Williams musical legiter, “Luke the Drifter,” and “Tommy Tune Tonite” back to B’way in six months. And Cossette and Madison Square Garden Prods. are prepping the Paramount Theater Show, a weekly TVariety airing … Susan Anton is readying to go out on the road for a year with the “Great Radio City Music Hall Spectacular” starring the Rockettes. She’s been living at N.Y.’s Regency, rehearsing at the Michael Bennett Hall for the past fortnight in advance of the Oct. 26 launch in Rochester, arriving at the U-Amphi June 20. She says her husband Jeff Lester “is very understanding”– and will produce specials while on the road with her. Susan says she always wanted to play Radio City, but “I was too tall to be a Rockette!”

NO MISTER NICE GUY: From Vienna’s Vienale fest reuniting those in showbiz who fled persecution, Theo Bikel said “there was no ‘nice-nice’ talk” as stories unspooled about the days of horror. While Bikel noted those at the fest were showing “a great deal of respect,” an interview on the street was interrupted when a passerby shouted, “What we need is another Hitler!” Frightening … And from Shanghai’s feature fest followed by their children’s film fest, Deborah Raffin, who’s loved there for “The Dove,””Touched by Love” and “Willa,” was also embraced for her (Dove) family film “Morning Glory.””They (Chinese) have such love for children,” she reported. “They’re only allowed one child and they treat children like a treasure.” She says, “I felt honored to be a part of the (children’s) festival, because most of those attending were professors and doctors discussing where filmmaking for children should go.” Raffin returns here to host Saturday’s Scott Newman Center Drug Abuse Prevention Awards at U’s Hitchcock Theater … More than 100 friends of Gary Adelson and Carrie Iacocca winged to Cabo San Lucas to attend their wedding Saturday. Among ’em, William Morris’ Rob Lee and Sheila Campbell, who’ll wed next July in Kauai … Stan Herman and Sheila Campbell tie the knot Oct. 29 here … Hilly Elkins and fiancee Sandy Love wing to Friday’s wedding of James Coburn and Paula Murad at Versailles, with the reception at the Crillon.

EVERYONE’S SAYING IT’S “PREMATURE”— no deals are signed, no one’s approved any script — but talk’s already started about the possibility of Clint Eastwood starring in Robert Waller’s bestseller “The Bridges of Madison County” at WB with Kathleen Kennedy producing and Steven Spielberg possibly directing the Amblin movie for WB. Ron Bass is working on the scripts again … The Thunder Roadhouse owned by Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Dwight Yoakam brought out the trio, plus Sally Kirkland, Luke Perry, Sean Penn, Robert Patrick, Crispin Glover , Ann Turkel, Martin Landau, Brian Austin Green, Anthony Kiedis … Patty Duke bowed in “The Miracle Worker” 34 years ago today on B’way — her anni gift from NBC was an MOW, “Saving Grace”… Tributes to labor leader Cesar Chavez will be held four Fridays at Theatre Geo in Hollywood. The first, this Friday, will feature Luis Avalos, Scott Bakula, Rosanna De Soto, Krystyne Haje, Valerie Harper and Rose Portillo.