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Banderas ponders ‘Zorro’ sequel

GOOD MORNING: Of course the question now is, “Will there be a sequel to ‘The Mask of Zorro’?” Antonio Banderas, movie-biz-wise after 51 films, modestly told me, “We have to see if it has legs — if we can reach 100 (million $). I’m very cautious. But it should have a strong international market.” Meanwhile, he’s enjoying the No. 1 standing. “My little sword won over all those fancy guns” in “Lethal Weapon 4” and “Armageddon.” Banderas notes that none of the films he’s made have ever given him the opportunity “to build a character that I know,” so a sequel would be a pleasant first (or second, or third) for him! He only insists on two things: that Martin Campbell again directs and, of course, that it be a good script. He leaves next Tuesday for three weeks’ work in “The White River Kid” in Arkansas, then returns here to edit his first directorial pic, “Crazy in Alabama,” then next year he’ll do “Phantom of the Opera.” As for the reasons he’s not doing the biopic of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, Banderas admits he had been interested, “until I received so many letters about how many Ataturk had killed, kids he had sodomized — so I decided against it.” He also admits he didn’t want to make another pic (as with “Evita”) where they would need bodyguards on the set. “There are too many beautiful things around, like my wife and child,” he added … When I talked to Anthony Hopkins about the success of “Zorro” and how sad it would be that he could not be in a sequel, Hopkins immediately and laughingly corrected me, saying, “I have a twin brother, Miguel — who owns a taco stand!” The versatile, Oscar-winning Hopkins resumes shooting “Instinct” Friday at WB, has “Meet Joe Black” next in release and in September starts “Titus,” in which he is looking forward to being directed by (legit “Lion King’s”) Julie Taymor. “I’m having such a ball,” exuded Hopkins.

I’M GLAD YOU’RE FINALLY A BRUIN,”said Casey Wasserman, UCLA ’96, as his grandmother Edie (Mrs. Lew) Wasserman received the UCLA Medal July 18 in a touching presentation after lunch at the Regency Club. Among guests, of course was Lew Wasserman, recipient of the medal in ’96, plus their daughter Lynne, granddaughter Carol (Leif) and niece Natalie Leib. Other speakers included Gil Cates, dean of the School of Theater, Film & TV, who called Edie “a beacon of truth and honesty”; vice chancellor of student affairs Winston Doby and chancellor Albert Carnesale, who reminded that while Edie was unable to afford a college education during the Depression, she now makes it possible for 100 undergrads to afford college not only this year — but forever via the Wassermans’ Scholars Endowment. Carnesale also read a letter from Lady Bird Johnson. The former First Lady was unable to attend, but wrote, “You are admired, respected and cherished by many, but none more than your devoted friend, Lady Bird.” Guests included current and past officers of the MPTV Fund, of which the Wassermans have also been — and continue to be — incomparable supporters … The first wedding held at the new L’Ermitage Hotel was the beautiful rooftop ceremony for Ellen Meyer and David Baron, rabbi of the Temple Shalom for the Arts. Baron’s friend Rabbi Steve Reuben performed the ceremony. Afterward, Baron’s 12-year-old son Jonathan delivered a touching poem; Meyer’s daughters Sarah and Jennifer (by Ron Meyer) followed with their remarks. Family, friends and congregation members included the Arthur Hillers, Irwin Winklers, Jon Avnets, Harris Katlemans, Steve Rabineaus, Dick Rosenzweigs, Nell Carter, Deborah Raffin and Edith Meyer, who is the mother of Ellen’s ex, Ron Meyer. Rabbi Baron is writing “Moses on Management,” to be published by Pocket Books. The idea was suggested by Michael Viner.

JACK NICHOLSON’S report here on his meeting with Fidel Castro is now followed by word “Castro is aware”of the NBC Castro biopic being readied by producer Mark Carliner; he says writer Marshall Frady (“George Wallace”) is ¾ finished with the four-hour Castro script. Carliner adds, “We will be going down to meet with him (for the first time) at an appropriate time. They know we are working on it. And Fidel is concerned about his own mortality, Dan Rather told me when he presented us the Peabody Award for ‘George Wallace.’ ” The mini will deal primarily with the Castro-Che Guevara relationships, l955-l967. No casting ideas as yet — nor did Carliner prepare “Wallace” with Gary Sinise in mind, nor “Stalin” with Robert Duvall pre-cast. And we know how effectively they delivered. Carliner just completed 17 weeks filming Stephen King’s six-hour, $35 million ABC “Storm of the Century,” King’s first script direct to TV; it will be published in script form by Simon & Schuster, pre-book. King and Carliner will team on another project. Carliner claims they now have “a lifetime relationship” … Jamie and Steve Tisch wel-comed daughter Elizabeth Morgan, July 19 at Cedars-Sinai … Well-liked Abe Greenberg, 93, onetime Par press agent, columnist and founder of Entertainment Today, died July 19. Services are private … And memorial services will be held July 22 in Las Vegas at St. Viator’s for TV/radio producer Gina Sakowicz, wife of radio/TV host Sig Sakowicz.

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