‘Ink’ running toward production

GOOD MORNING: Start totin’ the costs: with the ink barely dry on the new “Ink” redo headed by exec producer Diane English, she headed to Martha’s Vineyard last weekend to start meets with co-stars Ted Danson and wife Mary Steenburgen. And now also arriving there is the new writing staff to create a prototype of the series to come. The blueprint script must be ready by Oct. 2. English admitted, “I’m pressured we have to do in 4 weeks what ordinarily takes three months. But,” she laughed, “this is a nice place in which to be pressured!” She admits she spent a “very intensive weekend” with herself deciding whether to tackle the show’s rebirth. Alumni writers of English-Joel Shukovsky shows “Ink”-ing up include Steven Nathan, Marc Flanagan and Jhoni Marchinko. Tommy Schlamme will direct the first six segs. And, English added, “We (Joel and I) have been doing this a long time (12 years). We will try to keep the crew intact until proven otherwise but we will have our own production team and a new supporting cast. We are going after interesting and fun actors.” In the newly designed show, Steenburgen will be the managing editor of a N.Y. paper, Danson, a superstar reporter like a Jimmy Breslin or Pete Hamill, sez English. “It is comedy set in the centerpiece of a divorced couple working together. In the original concept, she (Steenburgen) got the job (managing editor) by accident now, I want her to be competent. The show will be topical to some degree but not like (her) ‘Murphy Brown,’ ” she added. While set in N.Y., the show will be filmed in L.A. on the many N.Y. studio streets availableAs noted in Daily Variety on Aug. 30, in addition to nabbing a large paycheck, English has made her show “Lawyers,” which CBS passed on when putting together its fall schedule last spring, a new topic of discussion. But she told me she now has to devote all her time to getting “Ink” rolling. She agrees CBS and DreamWorks made it worth her while.

ALTHOUGH RETURNING TO SERIES TV four segs of “Melrose Place” Donna Mills continues commitments for her own production company. They include the Candy Mossler story, and a defense lawyer MOW, “A Question of Consent.” She also hopes to revive “Joshua,” a true story she had in development, then KO’d. It’s about a black boy in a foster parent case. Mills is the single parent of an adopted biracial daughter, Chloe, now 2 years old, who has appeared (briefly) in everything Mills has filmed in the past year! Howcum Mills, an alumna of nine years on “Knots Landing” agreed to the “visit” on the “Place”? Aaron Spelling and producer Frank South met with her “for several hours.” (Mills had made two pilots for Spelling neither sold.) After the long discussion, they agreed on the plans for her role. It’s not like her Abby in “Knots” at all. “But I have a past,” she laughed and it stirs things up for Jane (Josie Bisset) and Sydney (Laura Leighton). At the finale of her four segs, Mills says she will not be “killed off,” she assured. So, who knows how many return engagements for Mills on “Melrose”? In a first for the Bruce Davison/Lisa Pelikan family, they’ll co-star in a film, Showtime’s “Color of Justice” to shoot in Toronto. Film also co-stars F. Murray Abraham, Judd Hirsch and Gregory Hines with Jeremy Kagan directing. “Justice” is written and produced by Lionel Chetwynd. In Toronto, Davison will also attend the preem of “Grace of My Heart,” in which he also co-starred as a music writer//d.j. for helmer Allison Anders Edgar Scherick, back in action, joined with Harold Cohen to buy Ben Starr’s comedy script of “Where’s Leo” for the bigscreen.

MICHAEL JACKSON AND HIS PRESS AGENT of 11 years, Lee Solters, have called it quits. As you might imagine, Lee says he’s relieved. Alumni emeritus of Solters’ praisery include Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand Raquel Welch hosts “Sex and the Silver Screen,” a six-hour docu airing Sept. 22 on Showtime, written, produced and directed by Emmy-winner Frank Martin (“MGM: When the Lion Roars.”) The series benefits the MPTV Fund Foundation. Every studio cooperated with clips everything from Harlow to “Showgirls” Friday, the N.Y. Museum of TV and Radio launches a three-month screening of Buster Keaton on TV much of which has not been seen since it originally aired, plus “lost” footage. His widow, Eleanor Keaton, tells me plans are afoot to have a similar tribute at the BevHills Musuem. She sadly told me that Keaton is remembered more in Europe than here. Maybe the TV & Radio Museum will change all that. … Michael Crawford’s fan club raised $115,000 for his special charity, the Sick Children’s Trust, commemorating the 10th anni of his debut in “Phantom.” An original “Phantom” mask brought $35,000. They met at the MGM Grand where Crawford stars in the extravaganza “EFX” Over $40,000 was raised at the Laugh Factory for the family of late comedian Ray Combs and checks can still be sent to the Laugh Factory for ’em.