Nicholson gets big offer for little job

GOOD MORNING: What do two Oscar winners talk about when they get together at an Oscar nominees’ luncheon? When they are Jack Nicholson and Karl Malden, the subjects range from — TV to Brando to — golf. As for TV, Nicholson revealed he’s been offered $ 10 million for just a half-day’s work on a commercial — voiceover only. He turned it down, noting he’s now working for “dead money”– the money he’s now making will be coming in after he’s dead. But don’t get him wrong — Jack plans to keep working — in pix as long as they are as different as the roles he’s been accepting. And that includes offbeat appearances such as his next, “Wolf.” Malden agreed with this same theory once espoused by mutual pal Marlon Brando, that there are only a dozen roles an actor can play — thus he has to resort to appliances, etc., for a different look. As for TV, Malden, an alumnus of 35 years on stage and screen, admits his 20 years on TV with American Express and “Streets of SanFran” have made all the financial difference in the world for him. Without them, he said he’d still be worrying about where his next role was coming from. And now, Malden has a new and bigger deal in the works with American Express — as their total spokesman — a la Cliff Robertson for AT&T … As for the other subject close to their hearts, Brando, both expressed hope that his silence, even to them, means that he’s busy writing his autobiog. One thing’s certain, Marlon knows that these two close friends are concerned about him. And as for the third topic of conversation, golf — Malden was so enamored of the game, he would get up at 5 ayem each day to tee off. Nicholson, who prefers a noon start, has developed into a really hot player — and recently hit under par in the back nine … While the three of us were chatting, Nicholson took time to also talk with and encourage young docu filmmakers (and nominees) who came up to congrat him … Acad prez Bob Rehme again emphasized how Gil Cates’ show this year will truly toast the ladies in the biz. And writers Buz Kohan and Hal Kanter also told me that the film packages will show women’s importance on classic films they wrote, edited, produced, etc.

THE EASTERN SNOWSTORM ABATED IN TIME for David Brown (“A Few Good Men”) to wing out for yesterday’s nominees’ luncheon. “It’s so civilized,” said Brown. “Everyone wins here.” He also took in a few meetings for future pix. They include “Canadian Bacon,” which he describes as “an outrageous comedy” by Michael Moore (“Roger & Me”) for which John Burnham’s talking to Brown as a Roseanne and Tom Arnold co-starrer. Brown also talked here with Keith Addis and Nick Wechsler, who’ll join with him to produce “Pink Vodka Blues” at Par. Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson will co-star in the pic version of Neil Barrett’s book (St. Martin’s Press). Danson plays an alcoholic book editor on the run from the mob who meets socialite alcoholic Whoopi Goldberg in rehab … While David Brown’s movie wheeling, his wife Helen Gurley B. is ruffling feathers touring with her book “The Late Show” (Wm. Morrow) … John Burnham and Rob Lee dined with Lee Iacocca Monday night at Morton’s to talk Morris office plans for him — focused on the TV and education arena. Plus a book, natch … Barbara Trent, Oscar-nominated for “The Panama Deception” docu feature, which screens in Panama tomorrow despite government banning, admitted to me she is living in a garage. Her Empowerment Project banner is $ 80,000 in debt. “We’ll retreat and regroup to console and consult other filmmakers.” They also move from L.A. to North Carolina. “We can’t afford L.A. any more.” But they’ll keep one edit bay in town for the indies who use it … Nominee screenwriter Richard Friedenberg (“A River Runs Through It”) returns to the north woods for his next script — he also directs –“Jonathan Takes Enemy” to star a Crow teenager. The TriStar movie will be produced by Laura Ziskin and Jeff Wald for $ 15 million, Friedenberg said.

TWO-TIME OSCAR WINNER SAUL ZAENTZ, down from SanFran, says he’s now prepping “Lies of the Night” for his next … The 65th Academy Awards will be the 50th that the AP’s Bob Thomas has covered and our 48th … While the Oscar elite were in the International Ballroom, back in the BevHilton’s Monaco banquet room, slot machines were churning away — all for a “Newton’s Apple” PBSeries seg hosted by Monty Hall demonstrating the odds on winning. What are the odds on the nominees? … The $ 45 “A Day in the Life of Hollywood” (Collins Publishing) was lifeless on the bookstalls and plans for a follow-up “A Day in the Life of Country Music” are “in abeyance,” a company spokesman allowed. HarperCollins-SanFran is also realigning up there and most of those who gave Hollywood “Life” are gone … Atlantic Records’ Paul Cooper is appointed to AmFAR’s National Council … AmFAR benefited from the bow of the Boulevard Health Club, which donated all initiation fees this month to the AIDS charity … Johnny Mandel receives his doctorate of music from Berklee College of Music in Boston May 8 … Neil Diamond sold out two concerts in the Moline, Ill., Mark arena in 90 minutes — a total of 24,000 seats.