Cosby celebrates high-rated return

GOOD MORNING: Bill Cosby is happy and surprised about the record ratings on the debut of his series return. The Cosby reaction comes from his wife Camille, who is in L.A. on her own showbiz career: the bow tonight at the Mark Taper of “Having Our Say,” which she and Judith Rutherford James produce. They will now prepare the film version and hold a reading here for studios Sept. 30. The movie script, written by Emily Mann (who also wrote the play), will be read by the play’s Taper principals, Frances Foster and Lynne Thigpen. Tonight, after the performance, the audience will be asked to be on camera as they tribute and sing happy 107th (!) birthday to Sadie Delany, one of the two sisters on whom the play is based. (Sister Bessie died last Sept. 25 at age 104!) The tape will be sent to Sadie, who lives in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., where she’ll view it on her black and white TV set. Camille tells me she and co-producer Judy visited Delany several times, but Sadie doesn’t have (or want) a telephone. “But she’s very aware and perceptive,” they assure me. Scripter Mann has also written the screenplay for the Cosby-James planned Winnie Mandela biopic. Mann visited Mrs. Mandela in South Africa, and Camille was on hand at the Nelson Mandella inauguration, when the two Mandelas were together. The Winnie M. story “will also be fascinating,” promises Camille. “It’s very controversial and studios may be wary of it. It will not focus on his life, but on the woman her imprisonment, in solitary confinement for 18 months, harassed, abused.” I reminded her that Sidney Poitier has completed a “Mandela” vidpic for Showtime, skedded for Feb. airing. I asked Poitier if Winnie is in his film. “Very much so,” he said, “played by Tina Lifford.” Poitier was home in N.Y. briefly between locations of “The Day of the Jackal” Returning to Bill Cosby: he is in L.A. today, briefly, en route to a concert in Oakland Friday. When I asked Camille howcum Cos is doing another series, she answered, “He loved being a performer,” especially before live audiences, and will continue two Vegas dates annually as well Camille’s docu, “No Dreams Deferred,” airs Saturday on KCET, with a panel discussion to follow.

WELL, HELLO, DOLLY Parton that is. She’s busy here in town on two CBSpecials, one musical, the other dramatic. Next Tuesday and Wednesday in Cerritos, she tapes a holiday show (airs on Sat. following Thanksgiving), based on her album “Treasures” (for Dolly’s Blue Eye Records, released through MCA). It’s a collection of her favorite tunes, newly recorded in Nashville, N.Y. and L.A. She then prepares to film a vidpic “Unlikely Angel,” another holiday show (this one to air Dec. 17). Brian Kerwin co-stars. Michael Switzer directs and Dolly will write/sing two songs plus a theme. The vidpic is for her/Sandy Gallin’s Sandollar banner. Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion are producing-directing the Parton-Gallin musical show. As you know, Smith-Hemion are suing one of Gallin’s other clients, Michael Jackson. Wednesday, the production company was awarded $2.6 million in damages, over its accusation that he backed out of his commitment to sing on “The Jackson Family Honors,” but a federal judge delayed proceedings until Sept. 26, over confusion on who was responsible to pay Michael Douglas got two days off “The Game” filming in SanFran to do the national press junket here for “The Ghost and the Darkness” with Val Kilmer. Douglas’ co-star in “Game” is Sean Penn and, as everyone knows, Penn and Kilmer have had their share of uncomplimentary behavior reports (not here). But Douglas, the epitome of professionalism, had nothing but compliments for both of his co-workers. … The “Giant” 40th anni celebrations start this weekend in Dallas, with the restoration print preem Friday and the Cattle Barons’ ball Saturday, with Neiman-Marcus co-hosting. George Stevens Jr. and Ivan Moffatt are among those attending. Young Stevens was in the Air Force during production but worked on the editing on his departure from the service. At the preem here, those also attending include Dennis Hopper, Carroll Baker, Mercedes McCambridge, Earl Holliman, Jane Withers and Noreen Nash. As of now, Elizabeth Taylor is not attending. She surprisingly was on hand Wednesday to hear/watch Larry Fortensky give his deposition in his divorce settlement suit but he did not show.

SAD TO REPORT MEL TORME is once again in the hospital’s intensive care unit. … On the happier side of the hospital beat: Adam and Nicole Gelbart welcomed son Adam Benjamin G. Sept. 14 at Cedars-Sinai. Papa is a special effects specialist and grandpa writes a little. … Alan and Michelle Nanas welcomed daughter Haley Jessica Sept. 3 at Columbia West Hills Medical Center; the happy first-time grandparents are Felyand Herb Nanas. … Dr. Judith Reichman (Mrs. Gil Cates) author of “I’m Too Young To Get Old” (Times Books) threw down the gauntlet for her booksigning at Dutton’s Brentwood Wednesday night with: “Mature Women Unite Help Us Break Howard Stern’s Record of Immature Men Lining Up For Books.” Close to 3,000 of her patients/friends showed. Meanwhile, mature showbiz friends toasted her Tuesday at the home of Frances and Lor Rothchild. They included Michele Lee and Fred Rappoport, Debbie Allen, Suzanne DePasse, Annie Gilbar, Nancy Sinatra, Anna Murdoch, Martha Luttrell, etc.