Flu fells ‘Zorro’ director

GOOD MORNING: The flu flew south to shutter TriStar’s $60 million “The Mask of Zorro” and hospitalize director Martin Campbell. After four downed days all are back filming in Tlaxcala, three hours east of Mexico City in a hacienda and town created to be home to Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins and the troupe for five weeks. David Foster, who is producing with Doug Claybourne, will wing up here, however for confabs with Par on “The Core,” with WB on “The Prey,” and with MGM on “Julip” which Foster produces with E.M. Green and Bob Datilla, and John Amiel directing. … Pierre Cossette is hospitalized at N.Y.’s St.Vincent’s after taking a spill in Madison Square Garden where he is readying the Grammys (as exec producer) to air on the 26th. He suffered cuts on his face and multiple bruises — and aches and pains. He should be cheered by word from producer (with Ken Ehrlich) Walter C. Miller that Whitney Houston will perform on the Grammys. Also Eric Clapton with Babyface on “Change the World.” Stevie Wonder and Natalie Cole duet the tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. Celine Dion will also perform. And Vince Gill, Alison Krauss and Patty Loveless trio the tribute to Bill Monroe. Also past multiwinner Tony Bennett (again a nominee) is among presenters. Not planned to participate: Pat Boone, Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson or Madonna. “This will be a fresh show,” promises Miller. … “Elizabeth Taylor’s spirits get better at times like these,” her attorney-friend Neil Papiano noted after talking to her as she entered the hospital Tuesday for Thursday’s planned brain surger. … While Michael Jackson was readying to start singing lullabies to his newborn son, his ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley was singing “Happy Birthday,” helping her friend Katey Sagal of “Married With Children” birthday party her brother Joe, on his 40th, at Chez Jay’s at the beach. … Congrats to the “other” Jackson, KABC-radio’s Michael Jackson, who is named “Talk Show Host of the Year” by the National Assn. of talkshow hosts (3,000-strong). He’ll be honored June 20 at the Century Plaza for his “contributions to the broadcast industry, enlightenment of the public in international, national and local issues and listener enjoyment and service to the community.” Congrats. P.S. he’s the first liberal talkshow host to be thus honored. “IT’S ALL A MISUNDERSTANDING,” Mickey Rooney claims about the reported domestic difficulties of last week in which wife Jan phoned 911 to police. “I hung up — ” she said, “but it was too late. It went through.” Mickey says reports of their problem have “been built out of proportion”. … While Martin Scorsese is in town for his AFI honor Thursday, he will meet Friday with Irwin Winkler and WB on their long-awaited (12 years) project, the George Gershwin biopic. John Guare has written the script that deals with the relationship between George and brother Ira — totally different personalities. Asked about rumors of a possible “Rocky VI,” Winkler said he and Bob Chartoff have not found a story to warrant another round with “Rocky” and Sylvester Stallone. Meanwhile, “Rocky” lives on-and on — now as the theme song of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. The Oscar winning tune was written by Bill Conti, Ayn Robbins and Carol Connors. Connors has just written/sold the theme for the Royal Brunei Airlines — soon (June) to fly into Hawaii. The campaign for the line was sold by Austen Zecha’s ISC-3 World Partners ad agency. … “Shine” director Scott Hicks, celebrating his pic’s Oscar nominations in Australia, told me, “My heart bleeds for Cameron Crowe,” director of “Jerry Maguire,” nominated for best picture — but omitted in the directors’ category. Hicks is developing “Arkansas” for DreamWorks and “The Secret History” by author Donna Tartt — a book Hicks admitted he never dreamed he’d get the nod to direct — for WB.

AFTER 46 YEARS, Patti Page and manager Jack Rael have severed all business ties. She’s signed with Michael Glynn. As Page celebrates her 50th (!) year in the biz, Mercury releases a 4-CD box set and — she’ll play her first date at Carnegie Hall, May 31. Patti hopes to tap some of the younger audience that has discovered Tony Bennett and Rosemary Clooney. … It was shades of the halcyon days of the Cocoanut Grove where the L.A. Opera held its Valentine’s Day Ball. It was deja vu for Fred Hayman, the ball chairman with wife Betty — Hayman ran the Ambassador Hotel and the Grove where Freddy Martin’s band musicked and backed top singing stars — like Freddy’s own singing (and piano-playing) star — Merv Griffin. Merv was invited by Hayman to come back to the Grove for the Opera event but he was out of town — probably at one of the hotels he now owns! Les Brown’s band and the Manhattan Transfer supplied the nostalgic music and Jennifer Larmore balanced the operatic and pop music with her magnificent mezzo soprano voice. Casey Kasem m.c.’d and the L.A. Opera’s Peter Hemmings made welcoming remarks. Black tied guests were trying to recall what the Grove was like and how it looked in those olden days as they ambled through a newly created Grove entrance, where a silent-auction was held.

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