Johnson has familiar role in new TV’er

GOOD MORNING: Don Johnson has two ex-wives — on his upcoming CBS hourlong action-comedy series, “Off Duty” via Rysher. “Is it life imitating art or art imitating life?” laughs Johnson, who stars and produces. He plays a SanFran police officer who moonlights to pay the double alimony. There are a lot of “good-looking ladies in it”– but no children — so far, he adds. “It’s a stylish show in a classy city. The whole city has opened its door to me.” He’ll move to San Francisco with his 12-year-old son, Jessie. Melanie Griffith and her two children will live in Aspen and L.A. Griffith has filed for divorce, Johnson says, “And I pray for her happiness like I pray for my own.” But, he allows, “This is a very rich time for me.” He has the upcoming series — delayed until midseason “to avoid all the fall clutter”– and also a renewal on his ABC series , “The Marshall,” which he exec produces. His deal with Rysher also includes a feature next spring — which they plan as a big-budget actioner. “It’s a lot of work but great rewards,” Johnson affirms. He’s quit smoking “and everything else,” he adds … Johnson just returned from Seoul, where he and Bruce Willis & the Accelerators entertained our troops in the DMZ, after the thesps opened the 22nd Planet Hollywood, in Seoul. The experience in the DMZ was “one of the most incredible of my life,” says Johnson. Not only were they performing a kilometer away from the border, but he and Willis crossed over into a 17-inch-wide area where the two military sides confer — while turrets from each army focus on principals … Before leaving for Korea, Johnson had visited Bill Clinton in the Oval Office in advance of the June 16 CBS airing of the producer-thesp’s “Horatio Alger Awards” hosted by John Ritter and Markie Post, in which Ray Charles sings a spine-tingling “America,” promises Johnson.

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“BRANDON’S AN IDEA MACHINE,” said Stephen Cannell after a meeting with his new New World partner. “Even when he is on vacation, he faxes me every day!” They make a great pair as Cannell’s constantly expanding his horizons as well — the latest, Cannell’s entry into the literary world — he’s authored his first novel , “The Plan” (Morrow). And with Cannell’s usual full-throttle approach, he tells me, “I’ll be happy to sign autographs in markets for anyone who’ll buy it!” The book’s not really a roman-a-clef, although the story of its hero, Ryan Bolt, bears some resemblances to Cannell’s life — such as the loss of a son. The book , however, is a political thriller with the media Mafia-manipulated all the way to the White House. “You can stampede the electorate in three weeks!” he claims. It would make a terrific movie, he admits, and Cannell would like to write the screenplay. “I’m a writer first,” the prolific producer reminds. “I dreamed since I was 16 to be a novelist — however, my career (in TV) took off so fast!” But, he allows, “I love this business — it’s one in which everyone works together, like playing on a team”… While wishful rumors continue to circulate about a Chasen’s reopening, I can tell you the doors remain closed and an environmental impact study is in progress for the proposed $ 34 million, 93,000 -square-foot development with subterranean parking. Developer Ira Smedra tells me the study (for which he pays) is a six-month process. “We believe we can mitigate any and all concerns.” Chasen’s probably will retain ownership of the site until year’s end. As for its future in the development — ?… Frank and Barbara Sinatra are expected to move out of their Palm Springs home this weekend; they’ll divide their time between the Malibu and Beverly Hills homes … Shawn Harrison (20), the happily demented Waldo Faldo in ABC’s “Family Matters,” will be a psych major at UCLA this fall, when he’ll also continue in the series.

M.J. (MAGIC JOHNSON) HIGH-FIVE’D M.J. (Michael Jackson) as the latter taped video promos for his “HIStory” album at Universal with director Mark Romanek (Madonna’s “Bedtime Stories”) … Penny Marshall and Joe Pesci puffed on cigars in the garden at Eclipse … It’s Arthur Hiller’s month for honors — this week the U. of Judaism toasted him at the BevWilshire, where stories of the director’s devotion were told by Maximilian Schell, Shelley Long and Richard Pryor. Hiller receives an honorary doctorate June 3 from the U. of Victoria and June 17, at the close of the Prague fest, he receives their first Life Achievement Award … Thelma White joins the list of Hollywood honorees of Turner Broadcasting’s Archival Project today, taping her history … Budd Friedman inked “Star Search” comic winners Geoff Brown and Kevin James to holiday weekend-play Harrah’s Improv in Vegas — Ed McMahon wings up to do the intros … Steve Syatt’s expanded his L.A. praisery with N.Y. and now London offices … Emmy-winning production designer Roy Christopher has four shows he designed airing back-to-back on NBC’s fall sked: “Wings,” “NewsRadio,” “Frasier,” “Pursuit of Happiness”– from 8-10 p.m.. And tonight, Newsweek’s American Achievement Awards on CBS is also his design.