Hopper considers helming Dean biopic

GOOD MORNING: Dennis Hopper, who appeared with his friend James Dean in “Rebel Without A Cause” and “Giant” in 1955 and 1956, meets this week with Leonardo DiCaprio to discuss directing him in “James Dean” for producer Marvin Worth at WB. Hopper told me he wasn’t yet certain about directing the movie about his pal –“It better be great,” he laughed. Hopper starts his fifth decade in movies next year — he began with “I Died a Thousand Times,” a 1955 remake of “High Sierra.” Hopper went on to directing pix including “Easy Rider” and “Colors” and an Oscar acting nomination for “Hoosiers.” This year Hopper’s “Speed” heavy has won him critical praise and even some Oscar nom talk. He returned from four months in Hawaii on “Waterworld” to shoot interiors starting today, continuing to February. This heavy, he says, makes all others seem like “powder puffs.” And, over the weekend he filmed his fifth comedy commercial for Nike. It will be aired during the Super Bowl. He also films a commercial for Home Box Office to air during Super Bowl. In the latter, he appears as himself. Since his head is shaved for his super-heavy role in “Waterworld,” Hopper wears a funny hat for the Nike blurbs and wig wizard Ziggy Geike topped Hopper for Home Box Office. The commercials pay more than his million-$ feature fee!

MICHAEL EISNER, RECUPED from his heart surgery, took his family (wife Jane and their three sons) to Orlando over the weekend to join celebs at the gala opening of Planet Hollywood in Disney World and Eisner lingers this week to ogle other new attractions in the park: “Honey I Shrunk the Audience,” as well as “Innoventions” at Epcot Center, where major U.S. companies contribute their latest inventions and gadgets soon as they come out of the labs. Eisner heads to EuroDisney in the spring when a major Space Mountain attraction bows for the Europeans. “It is the most aggressive attraction yet,” the enthusiastic Eisner asserts. “At the end, you’re shot out of a cannon!” He emphasizes of EuroDisney, “The European economic crisis is over. Our demise was exaggerated. And word of mouth will make it successful — as it has at all the parks”… Robert Ellis Miller, who first directed at WB in 1966 with Jane Fonda and Jason Robards in “Any Wednesday,” is reining the two-hour CBS “John Boy’s Wedding; A Walton Reunion” in the church on the WB backlot. The surviving cast has returned — as well as creator Earl Hamner “who is incredibly helpful, ” notes Miller. Miller, who has segued from TV (“Naked City,””Dr. Kildare”) to the bigscreen, sez he does TV movies only “when I can find a very good script”– and this is one of ’em … Russian producer Serge Majarow, who was murdered in Paris earlier this month, had optioned Tim Halliman’s novel “The Man With No Time” (William Morrow) from Warren Cowan. It was to be Majarow’s first English-language film. A couple of months ago, his office asked Cowan to extend the option for an additional 12 months (at no additional fee). Cowan agreed — he never heard further … Dan Gordon, scripter on “Murder in the First,” will see his novel version out next month — it’s the first of a two-book deal with St. Martin’s Press. And Gordon also wrote a legal thriller (untitled) for Kennedy/Marshall Prods. at Par. The contemporary story, a fascinating look into the legal system, is an ensemble piece with top roles for top players. The busy Marshall will probably direct in 1995 — they already have a terrif first draft.

MICROSOFT’S BILL GATES had dinner at CAA with Mike Ovitz and heads of the three phone companies wired into the agency: Ivan Seidenberg of Nynex, Roy Smith of Bell Atlantic and Phil Quigley of PacTel. This is the big connection for 1995 … Playboy is back in live showbiz — at Harrah’s Reno with “Playboy’s Ecstacy, ” which bows Saturday with Greg Thompson’s production featuring dancers, singers , magic, etc. … Steve Allen, who played the Sahara last month, is back in Vegas with wife Jayne Meadows in a scene with Joe Pesci for Martin Scorsese’s “Casino,” in which the Allens play themselves … Mickey Rooney reteams with his MGM stablemate Debbie Reynolds as he brings his variety show to Debbie’s hotel Star Theater beginning Jan. 3. Jan Chamberlin (Mrs. Rooney) sings in the revue … Connie Stevens partied Doug McClure after his Walk of Fame ceremonies Friday. Pals on hand included Bob Stack, Bob Fuller, Jim Drury, Dale Robertson, Pat Wayne, Dick Van Patten, etc. McClure, back at work (“Kung Fu” in Toronto), happily reports, “My lungs are now 100% clear” of cancer … Margot Kidder and Ben Gazzara will co-star in Lanie Anderson’s new play, “Flowers and Photos,” for the Theater Guild, about the relationship between Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keefe. Rehearsals start in February in New York. Kidder wings in from her new home base in Prague to prepare.