WB hopes to deliver Denzel, Whitney for ‘Born’

GOOD MORNING: “A Star Is Born”– again. The fourth version is being readied at WB by Quincy Jones and Joel Silver and, it’s hoped, Mr. & Mrs. Norman Maine will be played this time by Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston … In the middle of his talk to Hollywood moguls at the home of Edie and Lew Wasserman, Majority leader George Mitchell (D.-Maine) was interrupted by a call from President Clinton. Mitchell then continued his talk to: Sid Sheinberg, Mark Canton, Mike Medavoy, Michael Eisner, Jeff Katzenberg, Jack Valenti, Bob Daly, Terry Semel, Bill Bernstein, George Vradenburg, etc. Subjects ranged from Bosnia-Herzegovina to national economic problems. No showbiz topics … When you’re hot — Bridget Fonda’s paged to join Nicolas Cage in TriStar’s “Cop Gives Waitress $ 2 Million Tip” as well as a Michael Caton-Jones’ project at Par. And Clare Peploe’s “Rough Magic,” being packaged with John Malkovich. Today, Fonda starts rehearsals in Toronto on “Camilla” with Jessica Tandy for Miramax/Majestic with Deepha Mehta directing, Simon Relph and Christina Jenning producing … It’s “the world’s fastest movie,” claims Wilshire Courtyard Prods.’ boss John J. McMahon as his two-hour NBC “Terror in the Towers” winds principal photography Tuesday and airs May 26. The writers began their work March 5, eight weeks ago. The final act will be the arrests. The World Trade Center “bombing” was re-created in a Portland garage … Gene Wilder not only makes his TV series debut in NBC’s pilot of David Seltzer’s “Eligible Dentist,” but will do the half-hour show before a live audience. Seltzer says they’re both making their series bow “because of friendship,” which dates back to “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971) on which Seltzer sez he was a “ghost writer.” The series will be a “family affair” for the two friends, as Wilder’s wife Karen will also be a script consultant.

IT’S ON TO “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” for Neil Simon now that his “Jake’s Women” is wowing L.A. audiences. “Laughter” will get its pre-B’way bow at Duke U. before heading to N.Y.’s Richard Rodgers Theater …”Seinfeld’s” Jason Alexander was on hand at the Ahmanson at the Doolittle bow of “Jake’s” and Simon told me he’d hoped Alexander could be a member of his “Laughter” cast — but there’s no way Alexander could leave “Seinfeld.” He played Danny Simon in Doc’s “B’way Bound.” But Alexander wants to make a B’way return some day … So far set for Simon’s “23nd Floor” is Nathan Lane (“Guys and Dolls”) … Simon wants “Jake’s Women” to keep playing around the country — and Europe. “And if Alan Alda were to stay in it — we could play forever. But he leaves after the L.A. run.” Alda, however, says he has the best time with this show. He even spends 20 minutes before each performance with the cast, keeping the family connection going off stage … Brenda Vaccaro, excellent as Alda’s sister, admits that if she didn’t have this play, she would have left Hollywood and gone back to Dallas! … Simon’s most successful plays are “The Odd Couple,””Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Lost in Yonkers”… Simon and “Jake’s” director Gene Saks have not spoken since Saks was sacked from the musicalized “Goodbye Girl.””I think he burned his bridges behind him after ‘that’ interview in the New York Times,” said Simon. Production stage manager John Brigleb, Simon and Alda led the 10-day rehearsals here post-B’way … Simon will be honored Sunday by the N.Y. Friars … At the Columbia Bar & Grill party following “Jake’s” bow, Joan Van Ark told me she’ll star in NBC’s “‘Someone’s Watching” with Daniel Travanti … And Gordon Davidson reported that the Ahmanson, to undergo reconfiguration following “The Phantom’s” fold Aug. 29, will make the house’s 2,000 seats adjustable to 1, 400 by cutting down half of the balcony and mezzanine for more intimate shows.

MORE THAN 200 FRIENDS, associates and clients of APA’s late leader Marty Klein toasted the launching of the “Marty Klein Comedy Writing Awards” at UCLA Film, TV, Theater school. Dean Gil Cates recalled whenever he and friend Klein called each other, they shared a joke but when Cates called to tell him of his appointment as dean, Marty said, “Gil, that’s not funny.” APA prez Roger Vorce said Klein’s love for comedy and young talent made the awards the perfect way to perpetuate his memory. Klein’s widow, Sharon, said if Marty were there he would have been proud — and humble. He is sorely missed … Vicki Lawrence signed with the Brokaw Co. for personal management … Don Rickles was surprised by Debbie Reynolds, who opened for him over the weekend at the Desert Inn, when she screened a clip of the two of ’em from “Rat Race” (Par, 1960!) as Rickles was readying to go on stage. Among those up there to laugh: Debbie’s ex, Eddie Fisher; Fred Travalena; Jack Paar; and David Letterman. Today, Rickles and Richard Lewis start their Fox pilot “Daddy Dearest”… Susan Sarandon will be honored by Harry Belafonte for her “courageous commitment to social justice” Thursday at N.Y.’s Food & Hunger Hotline benefit.