Film traces Harlem’s history

GOOD MORNING:Harlem” is coming to Hollywood — via six hours by Roy Campanella II, who is writing and will direct and co-produce with Hillard Elkins for Hallmark Entertainment. The project will air on Showtime, whose Joan Bornstein “pushed it through,” said Elkins. This is not the violent Harlem you see in the news.”There is another Harlem,” reminded Campanella, “one of hope and optimism that once gave birth to the Harlem Renaissance.” The two-parter begins at the turn of the century and ends in 1935 with the true incident of a white cop killing a member of the black family whose history in Harlem is chronicled in the previous hours. Sure, a continuation from ’35 to-? is hoped for. Also in his plans, Campanella told me, are characterizations of the great artists , musicians, entrepreneurs, politicians and gangsters of the period. As for the showbiz giants, Campanella hopes Lena Horne will make an appearance (“I’ve known her forever”), ditto Lionel Hampton. Harlem’s music of the great bands like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, etc., will also be featured, along with, of course, the Cotton Club and the Savoy Ballroom. “It’s Harlem in its infancy,” Campanella said. A fictional Saunders family will be chronicled as one of the first black families to migrate from the South. Roy II, although born in St.Paul, Minn., told me he was very familiar with Harlem, “I worked in my father’s liquor store on 134th St. and 7th Ave. when (Roy Sr.) was playing for the Dodgers in Brooklyn.” Young Roy also appeared with the rest of the Campanella family at the finale of “It’s Good to Be Alive,” the 1974 CBS telefilm about Roy Sr., directed by Michael Landon for Chuck Fries, with Paul Winfield as Campy, plus Louis Gossett Jr. and Ruby Dee. Elkins is partnered with Gossett in the Logo Company, which produced “Inside” in South Africa, directed by Arthur Penn — and to be shown in Cannes in the Directors Fortnight … The award-winning Campanella’s Directors Circle Filmworks includes members Neema Barnett, Charles Burnett and Julie Dash. And, natch, Roy II himself, who meets with Bill Cosby next week — he directed Cos in a Coca-Cola commercial. Production of “Harlem” is skedded to start in late fall.

“THANK GOD WE HAD TIM ALLEN and Martin Short,” said JoBeth Williams, back from Canaima, Venezuela jungle locations of Disney’s “An Indian in the City.” It’s concerns a woman’s 13-year hegira to the jungle with a baby son — unknown to her about-to-be-ex-husband, a Wall Streeter played by Allen. Torrential rains went on for as long as six hours as they waited in leaky tents. “We traveled in Jeeps to canoes to Jeeps to locations,” Williams said. “It was like ‘Apocalypse Now,’ ” she chuckled. “Tim had us laughing — even when he was in a loincloth being bitten by insects as he was inducted into a native tribe! The floor where we ate was mopped with kerosene to keep away bugs and snakes”– and appetites! The director is John Pasquin, JoBeth’s husband — the first time they’ve worked together on a pic (though they’re no strangers to teaming onstage). “It’s good to realize we could still work together,” she laughed. Pasquin directed the first year and a half of Allen’s “Home Improvement” as well as the blockbuster feature “The Santa Clause.” It’s Williams’ first experience with Allen, and she credits him with being “a very giving actor” in addition to his saving the day with his humor. The movie also stars Lolita Davidovich and 13-year-old Sam Huntington. The company’s now filming in the jungles of New York City, while JoBeth awaits word from CBS on whether “John Grisham’s The Client” is to be picked up.

CALL BRUCE WILLIS “DOCTOR”— he receives an honorary doctorate of letters from his alma mater, Montclair State U. of N.J., on May 15 for “his extraordinary accomplishments in TV and film, which have brought great pride to the faculty, students and staff of Montclair U.” Yogi Berra also receives an honorary doctorate — for letters? … Joe Pesci presents the So. Calif. Counselling Center’s 1996 Humanitarian Award to his “Lethal Weapon” costar Danny Glover May 11 at the BevHilton. Glover receives the Center’s award for his efforts to help abolish apartheid in South Africa … And Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen receive the Upton Sinclair Award from the Liberty Hill Foundation for their work on behalf of environmental, AIDS and political issues. They receive their congrats May 21 at the BevHilton, with the event co-chaired by Alfre Woodard, James Burrows and Nancy and Les Moonves … The community is deeply saddened by the passing of a valiant Shirley (Mrs. Arthur) Canton. In years gone by, we spent many a warm afternoon on the beach at the Sand & Sea Club talking with Shirley and Arthur while she proudly told of the accomplishments of her then-very-young sons, Mark and Neil … Bill Wellman Jr. bows his docu feature “Wild Bill, Hollywood Maverick” about his dad, starting Sunday at the Nuart in West L.A., with “celebrity guest appearances” promised.