Degeneres ponders pic project

GOOD MORNING: Look for a settlement to be reached shortly between Faye Dunaway and Andrew Lloyd Webber … Disney’s Joe Roth is looking to double the one-two punch of “Home Improvement” TV star Tim Allen with the bigscreen “Santa Clause” by ditto’ing with “Ellen” TV star Ellen DeGeneres. A romantic comedy is being readied for her series hiatus. “Joe Roth really sees something in me,” said Ellen between scenes during Friday’s taping. “He genuinely agrees to see me do something different in a movie. And I want to surprise people — and calm down a little”– in a ’40s romantic comedy. Meanwhile, on her “Ellen” Christmas show, DeGeneres’ romance breaks up, because her suitor is “too nice!” But look for guestar William Ragsdale (“Herman’s Head”) to make return appearances. “We had great chemistry,” she told me. Yesterday, Ellen received the Hollywood Women’s Press Club Discovery of the Year Award … And CBS execs told Fran Drescher they want a spinoff from her successful “Nanny” series. The show’s producers were also pleased with Erik Estrada’s guestint, and are looking for further shows with him … Following the success of “Stargate,” Kurt Russell has an offer from Fox for “Tears of the Sun,” another major action movie. “Sun’s” set on the Amazon … George Hamilton will star in NBC’s next Danielle Steel telepic, “Vanished.” And APA’s Jeff Rosenberg also set Hamilton for a self-spoofing Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese commercial: Hamilton is sitting on the beach, tanning, while eating bagels and cream cheese (Kraft, natch) when a bevy of beauties descends on him. He, of course, believes they want autographs, but they ignore his poised pen — to bag the bagels and cheese (Kraft, of course). That’s chow biz.

A LETTER FROM RIVER PHOENIX’S MOTHER, Heart, to Christian Slater thanked the young actor (who took over River’s role in “Interview With the Vampire”) for donating his salary to River’s charities. Slater told me they include: Earth Save and Earth Trust, plus Pediatric AIDS and Tuesday’s Child. “I didn’t feel right to profit by it,” said Slater, who worked 10 days in “Vampire,” including the reshoot of the ending. He’s now shooting New Line’s “Amelia and the King of the Plants” in N.Y., having also completed WB’s “Murder in the First” since “Interview.” He says he could have played the prisoner or the attorney in “Murder,” but chose to play a “clean-cut type” (the leagle) for a change. He tells me that Kevin Bacon, who plays the prisoner, “will certainly get an Oscar nomination for the way he plays it.” Young Slater is also writing a screenplay, “History in the Making”– but forewarns it will probably cost $ 70 million to make! … The National Football League, Radio City Music Hall Prods. and ABC TV, with producer-director Gary Smith, will produce an all-star gala Jan. 18 at N.Y.’s Marriott Marquis, “The NFL at 75, An All-Star Celebration” to air Jan. 26 , three days before the Super Bowl. Legendary players, clips from classic plays, plus celeb performers will fill the one-hour spec. Arlen Kantarian is exec producer … Cynthia Sikes and Bud Yorkin welcomed son Michael Alan, Thursday at Santa Monica Hospital. They have a daughter, Jessica, 2. Asked if they plan a larger family — since his “All in the family” partner Norman Lear and wife Lynn recently welcomed twins — Yorkin said, “This is a wrap!”… Kirk Kerkorian private-plane’d pal Matty Jordan of Matteo’s to Rochester, Minn.’s Mayo Clinic, where he’ll undergo tests this week … Christmas story: When Shelley Morrison’s 91-year-old aunt Hortense Alcouloumre told Shelley that “Coach” is her favorite star, Shelley wrote Craig T. Nelson for an autographed pic. His response: He showed up in person at her midtown house — to serenade her!

AIDS PROJECT L.A.’S BOARD honored Steve Tisch for his dedication in two years as board chair. And he announced APLA will present its first $ 10,000 “Hand in Hand” endowment (established by him) to the Pediatric AIDS Foundation (started by the late Elizabeth Glaser with Susan DeLaurentiis and Susie Zeegan) during “Commitment to Life VIII,” honoring Tom Hanks, Elton John and CAA’s Ron Meyer, at the U Amphi Jan. 19 … At the opening of AMC’s 12-theater La Jolla complex, Tony Curtis spoke at each screen — where one of his movies was shown in conjunction with the Cinema Society of San Diego’s tribute to him. Pix included, of course, “Some Like It Hot,” shot at the nearby Del Coronado hotel. Also “Spartacus,””Sweet Smell of Success,” etc. … David Steinberg, who rarely makes a public appearance, is at the Moonlight Tango Cafe Tuesday along with Jack Sheldon’s big band … At her 80th birthday party at Universal, Dorothy Lamour reminisced with Lew Wasserman about when she was starting out — as was he — at MCA.