Liz, lawyers take on NBC mini

GOOD MORNING: Although Elizabeth Taylor failed in her attempt to enjoin NBC from airing “Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story,” Sunday and Monday (9-11 p.m.), look for her attorney, Neil Papiano, to file suit next week against the net, producers, etc. The charges will include defamation, slander, violation of property rights, etc. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is readying the airing of her next scent, Black Pearls, and is in front of cameras for the planned fall addition to her line of jewel-themed perfumes. As for her health, Liz, sans assistance, sashayed into the Bistro Garden to lunch with Papiano to ready for battle vs. the TV “Liz” makers … Coincidentally, Lester Persky, producer of the mini, told me late Thursday he and his lawyers were able to get NBC to acquiesce and send out 20 copies of the show to key crix to try and get some space (reviews) before the two segs air. The web earlier worried that early viewings of the show might lead to legal entanglements pre-Sunday. “Do we not send something out because we’re afraid of being sued?” asked Persky. “Anyone could threaten to sue about any upcoming show and thus prevent its showing. It’s freedom of expression ,” he maintains. He says his show is aimed only to “entertain”… Jimmy Stewart will be 87 Saturday and he told me, “The mere fact that it’s 87 doesn’t make me feel very well!” Stewart, grieving the death of wife Gloria, Feb. 16, 1994, does not leave his house. He’s not attending the dedication of the Jimmy Stewart Museum in his hometown of Indiana, Pa., Saturday. “I was supposed to go,” he said, “but the ‘illness’ kept me home.” His daughters, Kelly and Judy, will stand in for him. Stewart sent memorabilia to the museum — he left his hometown after graduation from Princeton, then worked at his dad’s hardware store — before tackling showbiz in stock for Princeton classmate Josh Logan. Happy birthday, Jim.

JUDGE STANLEY WEISBERG’S RULING Thursday that tapes of “The Private Diary of Lyle Menendez” (Dove Books) can be used by the prosecution will result in the book — and tapes — being rushed out next week — a minimum of 250,000 copies … The showbiz community was saddened to learn last month of the seriousness of Elizabeth Montgomery’s illness and shocked to hear Thursday of the swiftness of the cancer that took her life. She was surrounded by her three children and Bob Foxworth, whom she secretly married in the office of her manager Barry Krost a few years back, Krost told me. Montgomery had only six weeks ago worked on the CBS telepic “Deadline for Murder,” which aired May 9 … Dennis Hopper was birthday’d by Victoria Duffy on his 59th Wednesday night with gifts including a golf putter from his CAAgent Mike Menchel. You can imagine the jokes since one of the guests was — Jack Nicholson. Also there, Warren Beatty, who arrived after he’d had dinner with his two babies, Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Marvin Worth, Quincy Jones, Larry Gordon, Uma Thurman, Anjelica Huston. Hopper continues his nonstop sked, winging to Ireland to star in “Space Truckers”… While “Die Hard With a Vengeance” preemed in both the Village and Bruin theaters in Westwood Thursday night, Indianapolis’ Lafayette Square theater was the site for a private preem for the N.Y. Knicks. Howcum? Monday, in N.Y., Bruce Willis, a die-hard (excuse it) Knicks fan, and his William Morris agent Arnold Rifkin, told Pat Riley the Knicks would win Wednesday night and, as a gift, the duo’d give ’em the pic’s preem (with the blessing of 20th and Cinergi) in Indianapolis … Although sidelined for a month due to an auto accident, Jim Bailey, reading here that Andrew Lloyd Webber was going to Broadway with a musicalized “A Star Is Born,” was still able to call me to say –“I know it’s wild, but I AM Judy!” Bailey has been doing “The Man Who Got Away” in his act for years. Because of the accident, Bailey had to cancel dates in Germany, Switzerland and Holland but will open at the Cafe Royale on London June 27.

LEONARDO DICAPRIO MEETS with director Milcho Manchevski (Oscar-nominated for “Before the Rain”) to talk the James Dean biopic … Woody Harrelson and Milos Forman dined at Drai’s Wednesday talking the Larry Flynt biopic … What’s Mel Gibson doing in Branson next Tuesday? He’s guesting with Regis and Kathie Lee, who are doing three “Live” shows from Branson’s Grand Palace theater … Carol Channing receives the “Top Hat” award from Steve Silver at San Fran’s “Beach Blanket Babylon” Sunday. The not-to-be-missed revue’s in its 21st year … The Young Musicians Foundation fashion show of Nolan Miller’s collection at the BevHilton boasted these models: Mary Ann Mobley, Stella Stevens, Charlene Tilton , Florence Henderson, Elinor Donahue, Carol Connors, Loni Anderson, Suzan Hughes (who is honored there tonight), Deanna Lund (who is off to La Costa with Larry King) and Beverly Sassoon … Actors & Others for Animals holds its celeb fashion show Saturday at the Universal City Hilton Towers … The Screen Smart Set holds its all-comedy fundraiser for the MPTV Fund at the Improv Sunday night.