Tisch celebrates birthday, Oscar noms

GOOD MORNING and congrats Oscar nominees: It’s also a happy birthday for “Forrest Gump” producer Steve Tisch. He celebrates both occasions tonight at Drai’s, in which he’s an investor. Paramount holds its Oscar celebration party at Drai’s March 27 and Tisch has also long had a commitment to co-host an Oscar party again this year at Morton’s with Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter. Victor Drai insists Tisch “come to my place.” Meanwhile, Steve must, of course, also attend the Governors Ball at the Shrine. His date will be Jamie Alexander — who birthday-gifts him with a chocolate (get it?) Labrador puppy, named –“Forrest,” natch … Tisch notes of the nomination categories, “If they could give one nomination for perseverance, Wendy (Finerman) should get that also. One thing I’ve learned (through this) in this business is patience.” Finerman and Tisch still have “The Postman” at WB as a joint project. Tisch admits because of “Gump ,” he’s gotten “a profile and visibility for quality directors and writers.” He has development pix at both Par and New Line. Plus, with producers Gary Goodman and Barry Rosen, film rights to Peter Guralnick’s book on young Elvis Presley, “Last Train to Memphis.” They’ll seek an unknown. “A ‘name’ would take the audience out of the story”… Continuing on the Oscar party scene, Eclipse’s Bernard Erpicum has been approached by two studios for their parties — Steven Seagal, who was to have hosted at Eclipse (where he’s an investor) now tells Bernard he is to appear at the Oscar show, and thus should attend the Governors Ball. Miramax, meanwhile, has taken over Chasen’s for a party for 1,200, win or lose … To maintain its nomination security, the Acad locked its doors at 11 p.m. Monday, leaving 20 workers to toil through the night on 600 press packets. Acad president Arthur Hiller and Angela Bassett had a 4 ayem call to rehearse the 5:30 announcements with director Jeff Margolis and his technicians.

BOB NEWHART’S TALKING with ABC to do a three-times-a-year character show, “like ‘Columbo’ or ‘Diagnosis Murder,’ ” Newhart tells me. His return appearance (after 15 years!) last week on “Saturday Night Live” gave him “a real adrenalin rush working with those young people.” And his guestint brought the show’s ratings up noticeably higher than they’ve been in weeks. He had gotten his working sked down comfortably …”I’m 65 — I don’t lie about it,” says Newhart, so he doesn’t want to do another series. The three-a-year special, character shows would suit him fine. He will still do 35 dates this year. Nothing like the four-six weeks in Vegas he used to do — between segs on a series! … Peter Yates breezed into town for p.a.’s on “Roommates” in which he predicts the first Oscar performance this year is — Peter Falk’s. Yates returned to London to complete post on “Run of the Country” and to talk another, “Goodwill Hunting”– which would make three pix in a year — the way top directors once were accustomed to working, per Peter Bart in Monday’s Daily Variety … Torrential rains in Florida washed out Monday’s shoot on “Fair Game”… Frank Gorshin segued from his Atlantic City stand at Trump’s to Philly to play a shrink in Terry Gilliam’s time-travel thriller “12 Monkeys” with Bruce Willis playing a returnee from the 21st century seeking a clue for mankind to secure the future (!). Gorshin continues on to Vegas to join the cast of “Guys and Dolls”… Before the NBA All-Star basketball game in Phoenix, the first All-Star Celeb Basketball Game was played — with Leon winning Most Valuable Player in the group of showbiz and baseball players. Leon returns to acting in “Waiting to Exhale” with Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett with Forest Whitaker directing … Billy Crystal, among celebs there for the NBAction, also put his handprints into Planet Hollywood’s Phoenix Wall of Fame.

COLLECTOR’S ITEM — the 70th anni edition (Feb. 20-27) of the New Yorker. It was celebrated Sunday night with a black-tie “pocket revue” at the Hudson theater in N.Y. Tina Brown, S.I. Newhouse Jr. and Thomas Florio hosted. New Yorker drama critic John Lahr conceived and adapted the readings (alongside vintage typewriters) by Stephen Collins, John Lithgow, Anne Meara, Austin Pendleton and Debra Winger. The celeb audience included Jane Alexander, Richard Avedon, Barry Diller, Harrison Ford, Brendan Gill, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Calvin Klein, Morley Safer, Mike Wallace, Barbara Walters, Howard Stringer, etc. … Tonight in N.Y., MCA/U’s merchandisers convert the Limelight into Whipstaff Manor as a “spooktacular” night for Amblin’s upcoming “Casper”… Nancy Davis’ Race to Erase Multiple Sclerosis wound before a snowstorm closed down the Vail airport, forcing many to delay returns to L.A. — but they still were able to raise $ 5 million! … Johnnie Cochran was among those weekend dining at Chasen’s … Kirk and Anne Douglas, Charlton and Lydia Heston, Suzanne Pleshette and Tommy Gallagher and Angie Dickinson join residents at the Motion Picture & TV Country House in Woodland Hills for a Valentine’s Day dinner catered by Chasen’s, courtesy of the Lew Wassermans.