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Coppola’s Zoetrope turns 30

GOOD MORNING and Happy 30th Anniversary to Francis Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios. I reached Francis in Atlanta where he’s on tour for — his winery (Niebaum-Coppola), covering eight cities in five days. He’s promoting the winery’s Blue Label Merlot, ’97 and says as soon as he winds this tour he buckles down to write two scripts. “I’m determined to complete them by the end of ’99.” They are the long-in progress musical, “The Big Kahoona” (for which he’s written two more tunes), and the serious-themed “Magalopolos,” which he says is on the scale of “Apocalypse Now.” “Only a winery could support these (expensive) projects,” he laughs. The wines, as well as other products, pasta, tomato sauces, magazines, etc. are also available for sale on his website, http://www.niebaum-coppola.com. He says “Magalopolos” could very well be presented on that website, as well … Coppola admits he’d decided not to direct the other films offered him because “I should write the films that people expect of me. I’m really determined to focus on writing. And so I’m applying the seat of my pants to the bottom of my chair.” He is most excited by the fact daughter Sofia’s “The Virgin Suicides” has been accepted at Cannes. She wrote and directed the feature. Francis is one of the pic’s producers, but he proudly says, “It is her picture” … Reminiscing about the start of Zoetrope, he recalled that his vice president was young George Lucas. Yes, Francis has seen “Star Wars: Episode One — The Phantom Menace”; Coppola’s comment: “He (Lucas) is the best. And I’m happy he’s also got two more up his sleeve” … The vacation is over for Jerry Seinfeld. In August, he starts out in small clubs with tryouts of his new standup act, with three-four-minute segs. Same month, he’ll film another of his American Express commercials, part of the new, extended three-year pact. Jerry celebrated his 45th birthday in L.A. at Dan Tana’s with an all-male dinner party, including George Shapiro, Garry Shandling, Chris Misiano, Barry Marder and Mario Joyner. Seinfeld’s g.f., Jessica Sklar was at work in N.Y., where Jerry now is working on returning to work. Among those at Tana’s who went over to Jerry’s table to happy birthday him, Milton Berle, who reeled off a selection of his (?) jokes. Also congratting Seinfeld there was another departee from weekly TV, George Clooney.

A NEW TWIST FOR ‘PINOCCHIO’: Martin Landau leaves for Luxembourg Friday to star in “Pinocchio II”; he’s again playing Gepetto, but this time, he says, “I am turned into a puppet and Pinocchio is a (real) boy!” The Carousel Films pic is for New Line and reined by director Michael Anderson. Landau reminds us of his favorite line about “Pinocchio”: “I’ve worked with a lot of wooden actors — but he’s the best!” Landau and partner Richard G. Abramson’s first pic, “Shoe Shine Boys,” under their Firestorm Pictures banner, screens tonight at Universal for potential distribs. Landau says it’s a “revolutionary picture” by director Mikki Allen Willis — about two kids who kidnap the Olympic torch-bearing runner. “It’s anti-violence,” claims Landau … Also screening tonight for the first time is the first film of a fourth-generation showbiz family. “Bad City Blues” is directed by Michael Stevens, the son of producer-director George Stevens Jr. and grandson of George Stevens Sr. and great-grandson of actor Landers Stevens. Michael produced “Blues” with Tim Willocks, who scripted his novel. The private screening tonight at the DGA is for cast, crew, family, friends of the industry and investors in advance of submission to film festivals. While the leads are unknowns, Stevens boasts Dennis Hopper and Earl Holliman in cameos. Both are alumni of Stevens Sr.’s “Giant.” Michael raised the $ from 15 investors. He and Willocks are planning a second pic: the author’s “Green River Rising” which was once a project to be made by the late Alan Pakula.

A ROYAL WELCOME FOR ‘KING LEVINE’ at the Tiffany on the Sunset Strip. The Sammy Shore starrer is now skedded to move on to N.Y. — the Queens Theater in The Park, Dec. 15 and in April 2000 — Florida dates in Miami, Palm Beach, etc., then Chi and hopefully Off-B’way … Justin Tanner’s “Still Life With Vacuum Salesman” returns to Hollywood’s Cast Theater May 14 for six shows to benefit the theater … Savion Glover/Downtown “Live Communication” is a four-week holdover at the N.Y. Variety Arts Theater, through June 19 … Faye Dunaway joins the cast of “Stanley’s Gig,” with William Sanderson and Marla Gibbs … William McNamara (Montgomery Clift in the NBC Elizabeth Taylor mini), stars in Showtime’s 22-seg “Beggars and Choosers” … Arthur Allan Seidelman directs Showtime’s “By Dawn’s Early Flight.” He’s now editing the “Walking Across Egypt” feature starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Ellen Burstyn, Mark Hamill and Judge Reinhold … Almost every star in the biz has had bizness with Stephen Shapiro and Kurt Rappaport — they’ve sold close to two billion (that’s with a “B”) $ in celeb homes — and now they’ve teamed to form — Westside Estate Agency (WEA) in BevHillls, natch … The San Fernando Valley Community Legal Foundation honors David Kelley Prods. at their annual Law Day Dinner, May 7. It honors Heroes in Law Enforcement.