Seberg saga planned for screen

GOOD MORNING: Jean Seberg’s tragic suicide is coming back to the bigscreen. Although Jodie Foster dropped her option on David Richards’ “Played Out,” Jay Weston sez he’s picking it up, and he hopes Winona Ryder will star. Ironically, Weston had developed the Seberg saga in the ’80s with an original script by Joanna Crawford. But the subject was too hot for those times. You recall it was J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI men who planted a phony story with the L.A. Times’ Joyce Haber who “blind item’d” the fact Seberg was pregnant by a Black Panther. Seberg , shocked, went into labor and the child was stillborn. On Sept. 17, 1979, Daily Variety printed this story: “The FBI has made public documents that revealed the agency in 1970 attempted to ‘cheapen’ the image of actress Jean Seberg by planting a false news story saying she was pregnant by a member of the Black Panther party.” Seberg committed suicide the previous week in Paris. Daily Variety added in that story, “The case strongly parallels similar unsuccessful attempts by the FBI and its director J. Edgar Hoover to trick Daily Variety‘s Army Archerd into printing a false letter accusing Jane Fonda of threatening the life of then-President Nixon and of associating prominently with Black Panthers.” I was not tricked — and did not print the phony letter (Daily Variety, Dec. 16, 1975). … Now, Weston’s dossier on Seberg includes photos of her and her dead baby at her parents’ home in Marshall Town, Iowa … In 1983, a musical London legit version of “Jean Seberg”– with music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Christopher Adler, book by Julian Barry and directed by Sir Peter Hall — played briefly. Hamlisch tells me they didn’t feel it was strong enough to move on. However , he is happy to hear the Seberg saga is coming to life again. “It’s one of the great stories of all time and the world has to know that true story.” Weston also is readying the remake of “Bell, Book and Candle,” for Miramax with John Patrick Shanley todirect his script. They hope to put Kim Novak, who starred in the original, in the role played then by — Elsa Lanchester.

FIRST HOLLYWOOD HOLIDAY ACCIDENT: David Niven Jr. and wife Barbara’s car was rear-ended on Sunset Boulevard as they were approaching the Sidney Sheldons’ home. The Nivens’ car was totaled, they were ambulanced to UCLA, were treated (until midnight), then released to their own physicians on Wednesday. “Thank God we had our seatbelts on,” a neck-braced Niven told me … The Sheldons’ annual birthday party for granddaughter Elizabeth (13) brought together family and longtime friends of Sheldon and wife Alexandra. Her sister, Anastasia (Mrs. Roderick) Mann, was among those there, although she was wearing a heavy brace to support two vertebrae fractured in a fall — from an elephant, in Africa. Roddy’s fourth novel, “The Account” (HarperCollins U.K.), a thriller set in a Swiss bank, is on the stalls in time for the holidays. Sheldon heads to his Palm Springs home after the holidays to complete work on his “Morning, Noon and Night ,” the last of his books on his current Morrow pact — they are, of course, negotiating for a new deal. Meanwhile, David Gerber and CBS are readying Sidney’s “Nothing Lasts Forever” as a mini for ’95 … Marvin Davis departs UCLA Medical today following removal of a non-malignant tumor from his back. Davis’ wife, Barbara, and his son John assure us Marvin will be able to walk again. Merry Christmas! … The Laugh Factory’s Israel-born Jamie Masada continues the tradition — free Christmas dinners for struggling and lonely members of the showbiz community. He asks those planning to attend to please make an advance phone call … On the Canon Drive sidewalk in front of the Bistro Garden, automaker Erich Bitter bowed his newest car, Kurt Niklas’ 10-year-old Bitter, converted into the model to hit the Geneva auto show in March. Admirers of the wheels included Bob Petersen — of the Petersen Auto Museum on Wilshire at Fairfax. .

IS LEONARD NIMOY SORRY he wasn’t a part of “Star Trek Generations”? “Not at all,” said a happy Nimoy from his vacation home in Lake Tahoe. And he hasn’t even seen the pic. He is now busy studying offers to screen, CD-ROM and/or live-action the characters of his “Primortals.” He’s also readying the “Deadly Games” series for Viacom/Par TV with Paul Birnbaum as co-exec producer. Nimoy won’t act but may direct the pilot. He will act in a remake of the ’60s “Outer Limits” seg titled “I, Robot”– in which he’d reprise the role played by Howard Da Silva. Nimoy’s son Adam directs. Nimoy pere is most happy, having finished “one of the best experiences I ever had — a fun role”– Frank James — in NBC’s two-hour “Bonanza: The Ghosts” filmed, conveniently, at Lake Tahoe. It’s his first Western — since “Catlow” with Yul Brynner in Spain in 1971!