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Polanski excited about ‘Maiden’ voyage

GOOD MORNING: Roman Polanski, in Paris, tells me he is having “the greatest time” directing “Death and the Maiden.” Thom Mount, who is producing with Bonnie Timmermann, echoes the joy, saying “Roman is two days ahead of schedule!” Mount, who has worked with Polanksi on three pix, says, “He’s doing the best work he’s done in 20 years, his best movie in 20 years, his best movie since ‘Tess.’ He’s completely on track. This picture is less talking — more thriller.” Mount believes part of Polanski’s great joie de vivre these days is because of Roman and wife Emmanuelle’s 14-month-old daughter Morgane. And when I asked the director about their baby, he bubbled over with paternal patois about the baby’s activities. It was inevitable that I ask Polanski whether he now could plan a U.S. return. He left the U.S. in February 1978 when he feared he wouldn’t get an “equitable sentence” after being found guilty of having sex with a 13-year-old girl. “I haven’t done anything about it at this time,” he said softly,”but — I should look into it”… He is shooting at the Studios de Boulogne in a remarkable set including a house, garden, driveway and beach by Polanski’s “Tess ,””Frantic” and “Pirates” designer Pierre Guffroy (also Oscar nominated for “Is Paris Burning?”). They next head to Spain for exteriors. Polanski says, “We squeezed” to do the pic starring Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley and Stuart Wilson for a budget around $ 12 million. Josh Kramer, who partners, raised all the dough sans Hollywood participation. It’s already sold throughout Europe, adds Mount. It will undoubtedly get an R rating he said, because of nude (semi?) scenes with Sigourney. But they’re in the context of the dramatic trust-betrayal scene. Bonnie Timmermann says the movie’s “a remarkable dramatic return for Sigourney.” Glenn Close got a Tony for her B’way performance in the play version which co-starred Gene Hackman and Richard Dreyfuss. How does the movie differ from the play? “Mainly in the third act,” said Polanski. “It’s more cinematic.” Mount said Polanski had devised a remarkable sunset scene lensed on stage with special effects … Mount, Timmermann and Allan Carr are partnered in six legit projects , including “Wait Until Dark” for which they’re talking to Patti LuPone. They’re readying a remake of –“Lady In the Dark.”

ROSEANNE ARNOLD CELEBRATED unfiling her divorce action Thursday afternoon, shopping (in her blonde wig) at BevHills’ Emporio Armani Express, then lunched upstairs. When she left, Rosie was greeted on the street by a photog — whom she promptly chased down Brighton and Camden to try and get his film … Sally Jessy Raphael sez she’s hopping mad at “60 Minutes” for using clips from her show in which buddy Roseanne talked about “repressed memories.” Sally sez use of the clips had already been denied … Raphael taped a show-within-a-show for the pilot of the Fox/Brandon Tartikoff “TV Guys,” about former child stars reuniting on her talker. The stars: Danny Bonaduce (“Partridge Family”) and Christopher Knight (“The Brady Bunch”) … Disney’s delaying the release of the Peter Yates-directed “Roommates” from August to late in the year in expectation Peter Falk will get an Oscar nomination for his portrayal — from 75-107 (makeup by Oscar-winner Greg Cannon). The Interscope pic got 90-plus scores in five previews — and that’s before the Elmer Bernstein score. Yates next produces-directs “Run of the Country” scripted by Shane Connaughton (“My Left Foot”) to reteam with Albert Finney (“The Dresser”). They shoot the bigscreener in Ireland for Britain’s Channel 4 and Castle Rock … Merritt Blake set Angie Dickinson to co-star with Burt Reynolds in Trimark’s “The Maddening” with Danny Huston directing … James Gannon joins Jeff Bridges and Ellen Barkin in “Wild Bill” for Richard Zanuck and Walter Hill at UA.

CAN YOU TOP THIS TV award show? it’s the “Top Cop Awards” to be an annual network (to be set) show from D.C. via Smith-Hemion Prods. … Fay Kanin’s off to D.C. as chairman of the National Film Preservation Board and also to attend the American College Theater Festival which honors her late husband Michael who established their original play arm 20 years ago … The red carpet will be out in Westwood Thursday when streets will be closed on Lindbrook between the National Theater and the Armand Hammer museum for the preem and post-party for MGM’s “That’s Entertainment III.” The movie’s hosts and stars Gene Kelly, Esther Williams, Lena Horne, Cyd Charisse and Tony Martin, June Allyson, Ann Miller and Ginger Rogers will take double bows. Behind the scenes greats from those halcyon days of MGM also get a shot in the spotlight: They include Sydney Guilaroff and Bill Tuttle who made ’em all look even more glamorous.