Letterman to skip bowling, host Oscars

GOOD MORNING: David Letterman will host the Oscars (as hinted Monday in Daily Variety) — even though he supposedly once kidded, “But it’s on my bowling night!” Pre-Oscars, David will be busy later this month taping segs to take to London when he visits there in May … It’s set for Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau to sequel “Grumpy Old Men” at WB. Lemmon says they’d like to have it ready for a Christmas release. But Matthau first has to do “I’m Not Rappaport,” while Lemmon says he might do a turn at the Doolittle. “Gordon Davidson and I are looking for a play which I could also do at the Chichester Festival.” Jack and Walter just wound “The Grass Harp,” directed by Charlie Matthau …”Little Women” director Gillian Armstrong — who brought in the terrif movie for $ 19 million — is besieged with offers, including a return to Columbia with Winona Ryder for “Girl, Interrupted.” Also, A.R. Gurney’s “Love Letters” at Universal, “Knees of a Cellist” at Zoetrope for MGM, the Edith Wharton story “Glimpses of the Moon” and “Crowded Room” at WB. I spoke with Armstrong, who is vacationing on the beach in New South Wales with her daughters (ages 9 and 6) on summer vacation. She is flattered by “everyone knocking at my door,” but says she must first take a rest — she worked nonstop on “Little Women,” delivering it 10 days before Columbia’s release. She hopes her next projects include reteaming with producer Denise Di Novi. She’d also like to work with Mel Gibson, Diane Keaton and Matthew Modine, whom she’s directed –“But they are all directors now,” she laughed.

FOLLOWING THE AIRING of the upcoming “The Date” seg on “Blossom,” a sexual abuse hotline number will be screened for viewers, reports star Mayim Bialik. The talented 19-year-old plays the victim of a “nice” school chum date who has to properly report it and avoid ruining her reputation. This week, Bialik appeared in a tres-decolletaged gown, which, she admits, “showed more of my skin than I’ve ever shown!” She admits, however, it was “appropriate” for the script. “It’s OK to enjoy your body — but you don’t have to be a bimbo,” she says. However, she’s worried what her grandmother will say! … Jay Leno, during a commercial break on his Faye Dunaway interview Tuesday, told her, “You have great legs!” Turns out Faye works out at the West Hollywood Workout Warehouse — in good company: Linda Evangelista, Tia Carrere, Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, Stockard Channing, Steve Perry … Jerry Franks surprised the Casting Society of America board Monday when he resigned as president and announced he’s joined Chris Barrett’s Metropolitan Talent Agency. Mike Fenton resumes the presidency, which he previously held; Mark Teschner is VP … Lalo Schifrin tells me he is sadly resigning as music director and conductor of the Glendale Symphony. He’s set to conduct three remaining concerts this year, marking the completion of five years. “Things got a little out of hand,” he admitted — he’s skedded to begin a three-week European concertour Tuesday, followed by producing a jazz album in London, and Feb. 23 at Carnegie Hall he conducts-plays piano on the 35 th anni of “Gillespiana,” which he wrote in tribute to his mentor, Dizzy Gillespie. His next film score is “Something to Believe In”… The All-Star Leaders Big Band under the baton of Frank Capp plays a one-niter Tuesday at the Moonlight Tango Cafe … Nino Tempo recorded a live Atlantic Records disc at Cicada. On hand was Atlantic CEO/chairman Ahmet Ertegun, who is co-producing. Also there, Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber and Bernie Taupin, the eatery’s co-owner … Bobby Vinton and Tony Orlando, who have their own theaters in Branson, Mo., will co-star in “Two of a Kind” at Bally’s in Vegas Feb. 9-15 … Richard Roundtree segues from “T Rex” with Whoopi Goldberg to “Seven” with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman.

THERE’LL ALWAYS BE A PRESS AGENT: Trimark is determined the press doesn’t forget that their “Swimming With Sharks” was formerly George Huang’s “The Buddy Factor”– about ambition in Hollywood and starring Kevin Spacey. So, today, the studio sends out specially equipped tanks with a 6-inch-long shark to key consumer press. It’s an expensive reminder. The tanks cost $ 200 each. Including the sharks? … Mickey Rooney will star in a TV special honoring his first 75 years in showbiz, to be produced by his new manager, sports entrepreneur Bob Case … Reason for Henry Winkler’s scraggly beard — he’s readying to star as “The Dog Hermit” for CBS and Stephen Cannell … There must be something in the water at Hanna-Barbera — five senior execs and their spouses are expecting their first: Fred Seibert, Jed Simmons, Sally Prendergast, Tom Barreca and Richard Lewis … Dodo and Stanley Meyer celebrate their 48th wedding anni at the usual place — Chasen’s … Herb and Fely Nanas celebrated their 34th wedding anni in Puerto Rico … Producer Mel Epstein died Dec. 14 — no services. The family requests donations to the MPTV Fund.