Reeve stays busy, hopeful

GOOD MORNING: Christopher Reeve sounded cheery but determined as he spoke to me from a vacation house in the Berkshires, where son Matthew, 16 and 6-foot-4 inches, had just arrived from England to summer with him. Reeve said he was taking some time off before the fall — but it didn’t sound like he was taking much “time off.” He is working on his autobiography — as yet untitled — with Roger Rosenblatt. He says he does not want it published (Random House) until January 1998. “There are fresh breakthroughs in research,” he said. “I hope the last chapter will be about my recovery. They are now hopeful of spinal chord regeneration. There is more happening in the past five years than in the previous 50.” He plans speaking engagements — both to rehab centers (where he takes no fee) and other sites — where he can use the fees. He is working to get Congress to raise the cap on rehab insurance coverage to $10 million. And in his one-day role in CBS’ “Snakes & Ladders” his character deals with the problems faced by a quadriplegic he befriends. Reeve will not be able to attend the July 20 Christopher Reeve Celebrity Polo Classic to benefit the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at the U. of Irvine, with participants including William Devane, but Reeve will be at the Oaks Fall Classic Equestrian (jumping) Show in September. Will it be difficult for him to watch that event? “I have no problem with it,” he said matter-of-factly. “I still love horses. I just had an unlucky moment.” On Aug. 15, he will m.c. the Para-Olympics in Atlanta, telling me one double amputee runs the 400 meter two seconds under Carl Lewis’ record! … Reflecting on his condition, Reeve told me, “I still believe this is a temporary setback.” What an inspiration!

BANKRUPT CAROLCO’S BOARDROOM IS ALIVE again — thanks to Trimark Pictures’ “Chairman of the Board,” which is shooting in the almost-empty Carolco building on the Sunset Strip. When I arrived, the huge boardroom was filled with (16) very big businesslike players — as the pic’s star, Carrot Top (Scott Thompson), in his signature coiffure and caricaturelike delivery, bounced in. “This must be the boardroom!” he exclaimed. “You all look so bored!” Carrot Top was to introduce ’em to his invention –“Bullshirt” (watch that spelling!), a gadget that warns if the wearer is lying. “It would be great for studio development executives,” director Alex Zann asided to me. “Or politicians.” Zann told me the movie will definitely be PG-13, aimed at family audiences, with Carrot Top, a combination Pee-wee Herman and Robin Williams — although Top told me his idol is Steve Martin … This is the first of three pics to which Trimark VP Phillip B. Goldfine signed Top — following are “The White House Broken,” “Bachelor 2,” or another untitled comedy. The young (30) comic is doubling (until Wednesday) playing the MGM Grand Celebrity Room nights via chartered flights after daytime filming. The film’s budget is $7 million — having originally been set at $1 million before turnaround at Disney, where it was plotted for Pauly Shore. (“Chairman”‘ producer Peter M. Lenkov had done two Shore pics, “Jury Duty” and “Son In Law”) … Rupert Harvey, who also produces, is continuing his Trimark association, having just wound “Crossworlds.” While the two producers were confabbing in an office formerly held by Carolco’s counsel, Trimark’s own attorney Bruce Eisen joined ’em, telling me he had just found a paper in the building, “How to file your own bankruptcy!”… Trimark VP David Bowers showed me (Carolco’s) Mario Kassar’s once-lavish office — now transformed for “Chairman’s” Carrot Top, with surfboards, palm trees and stuffed dolls. Top has a crossover audience ranging from kids via his “A.M.-Mayhem” cartoon TV hosting to adult nitery fans. This pic will hopefully attract ’em all. In “Chairman” Raquel Welch is his nemesis, and “Melrose Place’s” Courtney Thorne-Smith is his g.f. Carrot Top is personable off stage/camera, and, like most comedians, he’s quite serious, telling me, “My mother thinks I’m in law school.”

SAD TO LEARN that Sharon Hugueny died Wednesday after fighting a long battle against illnesses since being accidentally struck by a police car 19 years ago. Her husband (20 years), writer G. Cornell Layne, and longtime friend singer (with Elvis) Kitty Jones, told me whatever any friends can do will help the heavy hospital bills. Hugueny was first married to Robert Evans … Monica Lewis led the toasting to her late husband (of 40 years) Jennings Lang with a band playing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Lang didn’t want any sad songs. Friends on hand included Edie and Lew Wasserman, Lorraine and Sid Sheinberg, Kit and Jay Kanter, the Herb Steinbergs, Don Taylors, Karl Maldens, Dick Carrolls … Henry Winkler, who served as president of the jury at the First Annual Intl. TV Film Fest in Nice, received the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, presented Wednesday at the Nice mayor’s office by Line Renaud. Among those fest-honored: Bob Stack, Lee Majors, Erik Estrada, Patrick MacNee, Linda Thorson, Peter Graves, Marion Ross and Renaud.