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Borgnine involved in flight fiasco

GOOD MORNING: Ernie Borgnine was part of the real drama aboard Monday’s aborted TWA Flight 22 bound for N.Y. and on to Tel Aviv. The plane was barely out of the gate and making its turn for the takeoff runway, Ernie told me when “there was this loud bang — the plane jolted, stopped and someone screamed, ‘It’s a bomb — Get off!’ I said, ‘Quiet, sit down!’ There was real confusion.” But slides were quickly lowered and everyone slid down, Borgnine, of course, included. He had been en route to N.Y. to accompany wife Tova as she receives a FiFi award tonight — he decided to wait until today to take another flight, avoided mammoth reskedding Monday at the airport. And yes, he (and the other passengers) later found out the bang was from a problem in a ventilation duct. It’s been a busy time for Borgnine who, in addition to the “McHale’s Navy” feature (six days) and 22 upcoming segs on “The Single Guy,” is now also voicing Saturday ayem’s cartoon, “All Dogs Go to Heaven”… There was also unskedded drama 10 minutes to airtime Sunday night at the Tonys outside the Majestic theater. A man, chased by cops, dashed from Eighth Avenue up 44th Street — right into the mob of theatergoers, dozens of traffic control cops — plus the cast of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” which was making its way across the street from its St. James Theater for its appearance on the Tonys. Even so, the show started on time, went over only two minutes (because, said Gary Smith, of Uta Hagen’s ad libbing and promoting her own show). The entire cast of presenters and winners stayed onstage a half hour to pose for 50 th anni Tony pictures before heading to the Marriott Marquis post-partying. It was a long sit for those in the theater — who sat through pre-tapes so the TV show could include worthwhile memories, incorporated by Smith and producer-director Walter C. Miller. What about Julie Andrews? She watched at home in Sag Harbor with husband Blake Edwards while “Victor/Victoria” producer Tony Adams and other cast members watched at his home in Manhattan. Their feeling: It was better that Julie didn’t win so she didn’t have to deal with another aftermath. Well. That’s over with.

THERE’S NO TITLE CLEARED YET for the Sidney Poitier-starring Nelson Mandela biopic for Showtime — but one thing’s certain. Neither Poitier nor exec producer Ernie Sofronski wants the suggested title “One Man, One Vote.” The obvious title is “Mandela,” they all agree. But, you recall, Anant Singh owns “Mandela,” the bio, and he has said he plans to make it (with that title) with South African actors in the lead and cast. Poitier politely allows, “I worked with black, white South African actors in this movie and they were as professional a group as any.” But Poitier’s lengthy meetings, public and private , with Nelson Mandela leave little doubt of his (Mandela’s) approval of Poitier portraying him in the movie that covers the last six years of his 28-year imprisonment! It includes the Robbin Island and Pollsmor prisons. “To have filmed in the same prisons where he was held — to dig in the same lime pits with a pick ax where he worked for 13 years!” said Sidney. “He’s a man the likes of whom we have never seen in human history. I knew all about his life in prison (he had studied footage, docus, etc.), but to hear him tell it — dimensionalized it.” Yes, Poitier will play him with voice and walk impersonation. “I would be silly to play him without it.” Michael Caine also met with his live counterpart, F.W. de Klerk, said Sofronski himself spent three months in South Africa preparing with director Joe Sargent … NBC and 20th Century Fox have agreed to allow AMC to show “The Sound of Music” as part of the cable net’s daylong salute to Rodgers & Hammerstein July 4-5 as part of the AMC American Film Preservation Festival. NBC has a longterm licensing agreement with 20th for exclusive TV showings.

ED MCMAHON ASKED JERRY LEWIS’ OK to m.c. last Saturday’s Nancy Davis “Race to Erase M.S.” (Multiple Sclerosis) at UCLA’s Drake Stadium events. McMahon, has, for over 20 years, assisted Lewis’ M.D. (Muscular Dystrophy) telethons. The day and night (at the Century Plaza Hotel) events for M.S. raised $ 2 million. Nancy Davis, who suffers from M.S., was tenderly intro’d by young sons Alexander and Jason at the evening gala, previously noted here … Chasen’s neighbors plan to petition the city planning commission for a smaller development than the planned 94,000 square foot center replacing the eatery … John Goodman winged from the Paris location of Roman Polanski’s “The Double” to attend Monday’s Bogalusa, La. , funeral of wife Annabeth’s father, Seamon Hartzog. Goodman’s “limited number” of segs return to “Roseanne” following his season finale “heart attack” is still being negotiated … Henry Winkler, in Paris for meets on the Intl. TV Film Fest over which he’ll preside in Nice, June 30-July 4, took time to meet with Gerard Depardieu — they’re mutual fans — and talked of “something” to do together.

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