Reynolds reminisces on star system

GOOD MORNING: Suggestion to Messrs. Spielberg, Katzenberg, Geffen and their DreamWorks: “Revive the star system.” It’s not my idea — the thought was Debbie Reynolds’ during our reminiscences following Gene Kelly’s death. “They (DreamWorks) are the ones to do it,” she said — while also admitting she was paid $300 a week on “Singin’ in the Rain”! Reynolds said the big studio system of signing and developing talent made that picture and others like it possible. “They (the talent) were always there,” and that included writers, producers, directors, plus the performers inked in the star system. She recalled names like Arthur Freed, Stanley Donen, Roger Eden, Adolph Green and Betty Comden, Carol Haney, Gwen Verdon, Jean Coyne, etc. But, of course, Debbie reminds, “It was Gene (Kelly) who was the ‘engineer’ in ‘Singin’ in the Rain.’ The people who worked under Gene gave of their lives because he was so brilliant.” Reynolds admits about “Singin’ in the Rain”: “I worked my ass off”– and she’s dittoing these days playing Albert Brooks’ mother in “Mother.” When he set her for the co-starring role, saying “You’re perfect,” she admitted to him, “But I can’t leave my hotel” (the Debbie Reynolds in Las Vegas). She called daughter Carrie and son Todd Fisher, who said, “You’re going to do the movie”– even though the movie costs her, she says, $50,000 by causing her to miss her variety show at the hotel. Also, co-star Rip Taylor fell out due to an auto accident. Jimmy Caesar is doing a great job, she says, holding down the fort on their “That’s Entertainment” show (“Jack Haley Jr. gave me permission to use the title”). Reynolds still admits, “I’m so surprised Albert picked me.” For her role, Reynolds had to learn to be a computer expert, and her weekends are drowned in studies for the role. “When I leave the set Friday nights, he says to me, ‘Don’t forget to study.’ I wouldn’t think of not studying!”

“I FEEL LIKE I’M NOW A MEMBER of the Rat Pack,” laughed Tony Danza, following his Mirage stand in Las Vegas, where Steve Wynn told him, “We need more guys like you!” When Danza winds the “Hudson Street” series season, he heads to Resorts International April 19-21, with other dates pending — but he now has an offer to star in the film sequel to “Angels in the Outfield.” Singing, dancing, comedy, baseball — yes, even skiing, Danza’s ready …”Seinfeld’s” George Shapiro and Howard West also continue to expand their bigscreeners with the Andy Kaufman biopic now being discussed with Danny DeVito and his Jersey Films at Universal. The Kaufman TV special last year was a hit and kindled this feature fire … By the time you read this, Faye Resnick should have left the city — and soon will be out of the country, following her admission, on “Larry King Live,” of fear of O.J. and/or his friends. Her latest book, “Shattered” (Dove), is on the stalls sans p.a.’s from her … Another Dove book is getting a different play. This one is Gwen Davis’ book about her pooch, “Happy at the Bel-Air.” Rhonda Fleming (Mrs. Ted Mann) has ordered many copies for the library of her UCLA Resource Center for Women With Cancer. Administrator Sarah Godfrey says, “We always are looking for something upbeat and cheerful for patients to read, especially when they are getting chemotherapy or are in the hospital”… Oprah Winfrey is joining the list of celebs who have bought homes on Miami’s exclusive Fisher Island … President Ronald Reagan’s old kitchen cabinet turned out for the Gipper’s 85th birthday party at the temporarily reopened Chasen’s Restaurant Tuesday. So did much of the kitchen and front room crew from the beanery. Bartender Pepe admitted he hasn’t found a new job since Chasen’s closed. Also there: Charlton Heston, John Gavin, Marvin and Barbara Davis, Edie and Lew Wasserman, David Gerber, and Bo Derek, who told me her stallion and RR’s filly are buried side by side at their adjoining ranches in the Santa Ynez Valley. Newt Gingrich posed for photos. The Speaker of the House canceled the orchestra slated for the Reagan Library fundraiser, to save costs. As we reported Tuesday, RR didn’t attend, but daughters Maureen and Patti were there.

TED TURNER, A SUPPORTER OF Native American culture, will be honored by L.A’s Southwest Museum April 27 at the BevHills Hotel … Nancy Reagan was able to get away for a few days last week at Palm Springs’ new Givenchy Hotel and Spa … Frank Sinatra Jr. bowed his (Angel) CD, “As I Remember,” at Capitol Tuesday night. His songs range from “Night and Day” to “Stardust”– with underscored remembrances of other songs of his father’s, including “New York, New York.” Sinatra fils, just back from a five-day cross-country tour, continues with one-niters in Florida starting Tuesday … Alan Bergman performs his (and wife Marilyn’s) “Moonlight” from “Sabrina” March 8 with the Nashville Symph, with Maureen McGovern singing other Bergman tunes … Rip Torn, celebrating his birthday Tuesday, moved his family and their “Strangers in the Land of Canaan” Soho legiter up to the Actors Studio in N.Y.