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Emmys to be more solemn affair

GOOD MORNING: There’ll be no rest over the Labor Day weekend for Emmy’s showmakers, who are readying the three-hour Sept. 14 show for CBS — the first time on this web in 10 years. The opening this year will feature the sequence that exec producer Don Mischer sez always gains the biggest award-show audience: the star arrivals. (There will be over 100 TV-movie stars attending this year.) The Emmys’ closing seg will be the presentation by Emmy nominee Glenn Close to the outstanding dramatic series. And in the middle of it all will be host Bryant Gumbel, who will be in and out of 15-20 segments of the show. “But,” as Gumbel modestly told me Thursday, “nobody watches the show for the host.” He was out here recently meeting with Mischer and the writers (five) and continues daily phone meetings with Mischer from his N.Y. office — where he is readying the Oct. 1 bow of the CBShow “Public Eye With Bryant Gumbel.” It will be in the 9-10 p.m. slot, opposite comedies on the other two webs. It will be live and the list of guest names Gumbel’s pursuing is being kept “close to the vest.” But they’ll be timely and he will go after everyone, he promises. Don’t expect Bryant to open his Emmy monolog with any comedy routine like Billy Crystal this year at the Oscars. However, Troy Miller, who put together Crystal’s technically comedic seg, is readying a surprise for the Emmys. As for more comedy in the show, there’ll be clips plus live moments with Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Reiser, Garry Shandling, Ellen DeGeneres, Michael Richards and Michael J. Fox among others. No, there’ll be no musical numbers to take up time this year: Director Louis J. Horvitz has to make sure the 28 awards are given in three hours, and there’s no option from the network for going over. But CBS wants the show to have a tone of integrity and respect — the reason they are so pleased with Gumbel. (Although he also has his show on the web, he was Mischer’s choice.) Stars of “ER” and “NYPD Blue” have taped segs for the Emmycast, to show behind-the-scenes showmakers, the Steadicam operators, etc., who make TV and those particular shows what they are Interest is higher than ever in this year’s Emmys, with a record number of press (900) covering. E!, f’rinstance, will give three hours live coverage, with cameras ranging from ‘copters to the red carpet. This is the fourth Emmy-producing task for Mischer, who is also a nominee for directing the Centennial Olympic Games opening ceremonies. Among those he’s up against is Oscar show director Lou Horvitz. Both are past Emmy winners but they’re not thinking about past pats on the back — only one for the show airing Sept. 14.

SHUTTERED THIS WEEK IS “Grace Under Fire,” to give star Brett Butler time to resume treatment (this time as an in-patient) for pain-killing drugs taken for her ailing back. She had filmed three segs (including the series’ 100th) for the ABC series, which is to be the first show up as a midseason replacement. They expect to resume production “within the next few weeks” and producers Tom Werner and Marcy Carsey say, “It is very courageous on Brett’s part and she has nothing but our utmost support at this time.” … It’s a new role for Jack Nicholson, Saturday: father of the bride, as daughter Jennifer will marry Mark Norfleet at the Bel-Air Hotel. “And I’m a grandfather,” Jack happily adds, since the couple have a 1-year-old son, Sean. Nicholson is now working with director James L. Brooks on the post-production editing of “As Good As It Gets” (formerly known as “Old Friends”), which has been getting high test marks. As for the future, Nicholson smiles, “I’m always angling to do a directing job.” … Liza Reisenbach, daughter of WB’s Sandy Reisenbach, married Michael Price, a key grip, at the Bel-Air Hotel, Aug. 3 and they honeymooned in Tahiti.

GEORGE BURNS MAY NOT BE ALONE in computerized stardom of “Everything’s George,” in which he plays an angel. The estates of W.C. Fields, Jack Benny and Elvis Presley are being pitched for OK’s by producer Paul Greenberg and writer-director-costar Scott Lane. Frank Gorshin, who voices Burns, also appears in the pic as a retired CIAgent in Miami. The pic’s femme costar is Julie Carmen (the “True Women” mini and “Gloria” Venice award winner), as a woman who steals Fidel Castro’s million-$stash of Cuban cigars to help finance a revolution! It’s a comedy, folks. … Tony LoBianco, now costarring in the CBS drama “Bella Mafia” for Frank Konigsberg, tells me he’ll next costar in “Mafia,” the Abrahams/Disney spoof of gangster pix. … Fernando Allende inked a four-year pact with Anheuser-Busch as English/Spanish spokesman for their Sea Worlds — first in San Antonio, next San Diego and Miami. Allende just purchased 748 acres on Whale Cay in the Bahamas. It was formerly owned by Lady Carstairs. Allende plans it as a retreat. He just completed costarring in “Naked Lies” with Shannon Tweed and Steven Bauer in Mexico. … Rod Steiger wound “Cypress Ridge” in New Orleans and winged to Montreal to receive the fest’s Career Excellence Award.

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