Douglas to attend U.N. event

GOOD MORNING: President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu — and Michael Douglas. The thesp joins the above statesmen and others at the June 27 U.N. Human Rights Assembly in Vienna. Douglas has become more active for the U.N. and is particularly concerned (as are we all) about nuclear proliferation. Like father, like son: Kirk Douglas received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Carter in 1981 for his global trips, including war zones — at his own expense — spreading America’s word in the cause of world peace. Michael, who wound p.a.’s in N.Y. for “A Perfect Murder,” heads to Bermuda for a board meeting of Ariel Sands (hotels); he doesn’t start “U-571” for Universal until August. One of several projects to possibly follow, Preston Sturges’ 1948 “Mr. Big in Littleville” (Daily Variety, May 28), was originally intended, 50 years ago, for Clark Gable. … This year marks the centennial celebration of Sturges’ birth and among things planned: Universal Home Video will re-release all his works on video and laserdisc and will newly release “If I Were King,” “Easy Living,” “Imitation of Life” and “Never Say Die.” UC Press will publish the third and final volume of his screenplays, including those he did not direct. LACMA screens several of his pix during the Aug. 21-Sept. 5 fest, which the Academy kicks off with a new film of clips of his works. The NY Film Forum holds a Sturges fest next month as part of Universal’s Laughter Series. And Aug. 29, the City of L.A. honors him on his 100th birthday.

IT WAS NOT NEWS to Art Linkletter that Bantam made a book deal with Bill Cosby to write “Kids Say the Darnedest Things.” Even so, Linkletter told me, “I had the exclusive to write and sell it” from his original book (based on the “Kids” segs from his “House Party” TV show). Linkletter’s book sold 4 million copies and was followed by his 1956 “Secret World of Kids — A Kid’s Garden of Misinformation.” Linkletter will be on the cover of Cosby’s book, and much of his material is inside, he says. Sure, Linkletter is paid for it, he laughed, but money is not his main interest in life. “I have all the money I need. I’ve done very well in business — better than I have in show business,” with his oil, gas, real estate, etc. holdings. Linkletter, who will be 86 on July 17, is A-OK following a mishap last month when he neglected to take his blood pressure pill sans food. He suffered an aneurysm six years ago but is fine and never stops working. … On the youthful and also-active side of the showbiz ledger is Noah Wyle, “ER’s” Dr. John Carter, who is 27 today. While on hiatus from the TV’er (sure he’ll be back, he says — and for at least two more years on his pact), he’s busy with the legit side of the biz. He’s teamed with Garry Marshall and the latter’s Falcon Theater for the sixth season of the Young Playwrights’ Festival teamed with (Wyle’s) Blank Theatre Co., Daniel Henning and Christopher Steele. Plays are chosen from writers 19 years of age and under, “handwritten or otherwise, one-act or more and any number of players,” adds Wyle. Wednesday night’s bow at the Falcon in Burbank, hosted by Marshall, included works from 18 and 16 year-olds. Wyle will appear in “Conversations” by 19-year-old Melissa Cantrell of Yukon, Okla. Penny Marshall and other names will be asked to also participate in the fest. Wyle was to have starred in the feature “Populace” this summer but says, “They couldn’t get it together ($), so I decided not to do anything else (but the theater) during the time off the series. I don’t feel I have to work 12 months a year like some of the others (on the series).” The theater is of course, “a labor of love” (no money) for him. Asked whether he’d like to go “live” again with “ER” as they did to start the last season, he admitted, “It was a little disillusioning to us — but it did give us plenty of inside jokes for a year!”

ALTHOUGH SHE WAS UNABLE to accept (because of sked conflicts) an offer to co-star, Marlee Matlin hosted a private screening of “Beyond Silence,” Germany’s foreign-language Oscar nominee, Wednesday night at the BevHills Music Hall. Hearing-impaired Emmanuelle Laborit and Howie Seago co-starred. Miramax, which will release the pic, is also talking of an English-lingo remake to Matlin. … Also last night, Phoebe Legere previewed her new revue, “Good Clean Fun,” designed by Tony-nominated (again) Tony Walton at the China Club’s C2 restaurant in New York to run regular Friday and Saturday shows through summer. “Cabaret’s” Alan Cummings and Chynna & Michelle Phillips hosted the preview on Wednesday (which was also Michelle’s birthday). … Today, Loreen Arbus, Andrea Van De Kamp and Olivia Goldsmith are honored as 1998 Women of Achievement by the Women Friends of Sheba Medical Center at the Four Seasons. … Somebody better check the water cooler at 20th-TV: Kevin Fortson of Telepictures Prods. and wife Rikki Leopold F. of 20th-TV welcomed triplets May 31 and, on May 23, Lou Bortone of Saban Ent. and Diane Endres B. of 20th-TV welcomed twins–all the kiddies arrived at Santa Monica hospital.