GOOD MORNING: I am sorry to report that Mel Torme has suffered a stroke. He was midway through recording his album tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, as I reported here last week. Torme, 70, who does not smoke or drink, felt dizzy five days ago during the session and was taken to a hospital, where doctors are hopeful of a complete recovery. I spoke to Mel’s son Tracy, who said his dad is speaking haltingly but that they are all being positive about his recovery. “But we’re playing it by ear,” he admitted. We join in wishing him that speedy recovery. Torme had been booked for the Newport Jazz Festival this weekend. That gig, of course, is off. But it’s hoped Torme will be OK for his record-breaking stand at the Hollywood Bowl set for Sept. 18 … I also am saddened to report that Henry Slate died Sunday at his home after a two-year bout with cancer. Henry, 86, and his brothers Sid and Jack ran the Slate Bros. club on La Cienega where Don Rickles made his fame. Henry laughingly called the club “The tunnel to Cedars!” Every top star, foremost among ’em Frank Sinatra, made the Slate Bros. a hangout — if only to be insulted by Rickles — and/or Henry. He was a star in his own right; a dancer, vaudevillian, four years on B’way in “South Pacific,” plus countless movie and TV roles to his credit. He was a regular at the track and at the Friars, and always had a joke with which to greet you. He is survived by his daughter Michele, a stunt driver; granddaughter Kimberly, also a stunt driver; and a younger brother, Meyer Sonken. A memorial service is being planned.
IN THE MIDST OF GERMANY’S Christian Democratic Union picketing of “Mission: Impossible” because of Tom Cruise’s Church of Scientology affiliation, “Independence Day” star Jeff Goldblum arrived in Hamburg to p.a. his pic. Jeff told me he hadn’t seen any evidence of it (the Cruise clobbering), but admitted the situation was “disturbing” to him and “most unfortunate.” Meanwhile, everyone “is being very nice to me.” Goldblum is no stranger to the Germans, having p.a.’d there previously with John Landis’ “Into the Night.” And Goldblum’s director of “Independence Day” is German-born Roland Emmerich, a Munich Film School grad — Emmerich now is p.a.’ing the pic in Spain … Goldblum’s current visit to Germany is in advance of the pic’s opening in a month. And the Germans are mucho excited about the pic, which Goldblum already has promoted in Sydney, Paris and London. But he missed the White House screening for President Clinton. However, the president told Bill Pullman at the D.C. screening that he’d previously met Goldblum — at the wedding of Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson. At that time, Clinton told Goldblum he remembered him from –“Tenspeed and Brown Shoe”! That was the short-lived (one season) 1980 ABC Stephen Cannell series in which Goldblum (as Brown Shoe) co-starred with Ben Vereen (Tenspeed) … Goldblum returns home this week, readies for the Sept. 3 start of “The Lost World” sequel to”Jurassic Park,” which he says will shoot until January with locations in North Carolina and New Zealand. He’s been talking to Stephen Spielberg, who he says is most excited about the sequel. Although Goldblum says they still are talking (small) details about his deal, Spielberg was “very generous” (bonus) after the success of “Jurassic Park” and this sequel film’s pact is “beyond what they had to do” per the original deal, sez manager Keith Addis. They have a “great relationship.”… Yes, Goldblum also would like to do the sequel to “Independence Day,” which he says is being talked.
TALK ABOUT TIMING! The trial of Gary Smith vs. Michael Jackson et al. was postponed Monday, until Aug. 26 — the first day of the Demo Convention, which Smith is staging for the Demo National Committee. And it’s also the day Jackson is due to depart on a European tour! As for the Demodoings in Chi, Smith told me David Geffen and DreamWorks Record Co. are the ones paying to bring the “Rent” troupe to perform (“Seasons of Love”) from the podium on the convention’s first day. But Smith insists, “I’m not doing ‘a show.’ A convention should be a convention”… Coors made “a seven-figure contribution” to the John Wayne Cancer Institute for use of the John Wayne super-imposed clip in their one-minute Coors Light commercial, Duke’s son Michael Wayne says. The clip is from “Cast a Giant Shadow,” starring Wayne and Kirk Douglas, with Douglas being removed by director Joe Pytka via “the flame” electronic imaging … Coors sales are up 10% since the Wayne commercial airing, sez Michael. And they have options for three more. Coors also will follow with standups of Wayne in stores this fall — to call attention to the Wayne Cancer Institute. Peter Coors personally is adding his pitch on radio … Michael Wayne also tells me the Wayne 1954 starrer “The High and the Mighty” by director Bill Wellman, finally is coming out on video. And additions to Wayne memorabilia items going on sale — the John Wayne Coach Gun.