Matthau, at 76, still hard at work

GOOD MORNING and happy birthday (76) to Walter Matthau, busy working Monday in 20th’s “Out To Sea” in desert scenes re-creating Mexico in Valencia. Today he’s on location in Castaic. But he says director Martha Coolidge is being very considerate of him in the heat (he’s working with a giant parrot’s head atop his own for a fiesta sequence). He says he enjoys working with lady directors; his last expe-rience was with Elaine May in “A New Leaf” (1971). It’s almost a year since Matthau’s surgery (non-malignant tumor) and he’s busier than ever. “The Grass Harp,” completed last year, directed by son Charlie (and well reviewed in Daily Variety) is finally getting its release by Fine Line, Oct. 11. “I’m Not Rappa-port” goes out from Gramercy at year’s end. Both pics bode well for another Oscar nomination for the Oscar winner (“Fortune Cookie,” 1966). Next is “Grumpiest Old Men,” to shoot in Italy with Sophia Loren and Ann-Margret again teaming with Walter and Jack Lemmon; and Burgess Meredith returns via a dream sequence to haunt the guys. Then, “Dennis The Menace II” is upcoming for Walter and, although Par passed on the “Oddest Couple” sequel, a pickup elsewhere is possible. At least Walter’s hopeful, saying “Neil Simon writes the way I talk” or is it the other way around? In any case, Matthau assured, “I’m not running out of time! I have to keep working”: his “addiction,” gambling, continues to take its toll. “I lost my ass last weekend with nine out of 10 football games and I gave 140-100 that the Dodgers would win.” Walter, you’re not alone, but Happy Birthday, anyway.

NO BENEFIT, NO CHARITY, no fundraising speeches, no silent auction, no live auction but a night to remember. Fred Hayman, a man for all reasons, advisor to the Oscars, L.A. opera supporter, homeless benefactor, civic and community leader and, of course, master businessman, invited representa-tives from all fields plus family to join him for only one reason: to toast his bride, Betty (Endo). The setting was the Hayman Point Dume estate, under a full moon further dazzled by a Disney-esque fireworks show to finale an evening which all the invitees agreed had not been seen in many a moon and not likely to be duplicated until the next eclipse, at the earliest. The music, the menu, the ambiance, all agreed, in perfect taste, with no expense spared by Hayman to express his affection for his bride. The music ranged from opera to mariachis to Monseigneur strings, gospel to Ray Anthony’s band. The menu included “Memories of Chasen’s ” with Arli’s catering bringing back the chili, cheese toast and banana shortcake, with the Cha-sen’s staff reassembled including Ronnie Clint, Julius, Claude, plus gourmet tables from the Peninsula, Le Dome, the Grill, Jimmy’s, Drai’s orchestrated by La Cuisine’s Tom Byrne. The Acad’s Arthur Hiller was on hand Betty once worked for him and he was talking with Gil Cates: you know about what. Merv Griffin reminisced about working in the Cocoanut Grove when Hayman ran the Ambassador Hotel, before Hay-man segued to the Hilton and before Merv bought it. For the occasion Jack Elliott and Norman Gimbel wrote “Betty’s Eyes.” Longtime pal (and customer at Hayman’s) Ed McMahon toasted the couple. The 500 black-tie’d and evening-gowned guests included employees at the Rodeo Drive. shop were served by an equal number 500. It was a class act.

AND SUNDAY NIGHT, Candy and Aaron Spelling were toasted at the BevHilton by the Ful-fillment Fund, where $605,000 was raised for promising and disadvantaged students. Representative youngsters of the program performed to prove the Fund’s true worthiness each one deserving a standing ovation for their musical talents. UCLA’s Dr. Gary Gitnick, chairman of the board of governors of the Fund, reminded the org’s forte is the payback from these children who showed their potential and by the mentors who brought them along. The industry has provided mentors as well as moneys. Toppers from all the studios were on hand to prove their affection for the Spellings and their Fund involvement, ranging from Sumner Redstone, who with wife Phyllis chaired the evening, plus Edie and Lew Wasserman seated alongside the Spellings. Also MCA’s Sandy Climan, a Fund board member well as 20th’s Tom Sherak, plus Par’s Jonathan Dolgen, Howard W. Koch, CBS’ Les Moonves, Frank Mancusos, Sr. and Jr., And of course the casts of Spelling’s “BevHills 90210,” “Melrose Place” and “Savannah.” Jeff Foxworthy m.c.’d, even though, he noted, he is on opposite “Melrose Place.” Jaclyn Smith praised Spelling, her “Charlie’s Angels” boss. Footage of Candy’s contributions and Aaron’s unmatchable list of credits were unspooled and Sidney Poitier narrated the story of the Fulfillment Fund to lead up to Redstone’s summation of the Spellings’ contributions and “embodiment of philanthropy.” It was left for their children Tori and Randy to make the presentation. Randy next joins the cast of Spelling’s entry into daytime, NBC’s “Sunset Beach,” co-starring Ashley Hamilton, Sarah Buxton and Vanessa Dorman. Warm thank-you’s were expressed by both Aaron and Candy. Among the guests Bill Haber, who while at CAA (and Spelling’s agent) was one of those who helped get the industry involved with the Fund. Haber left showbiz and now heads Save the Children. Today, he’s off to Ethiopia and other points in Africa to help save the children When they talk about people in showbiz and they will let them remember the people in this column today.