Eddie Griffin pegged for Pryor biopic

GOOD MORNING: The Richard Pryor biopic is being readied to star Eddie Griffin. The multi-talented Griffin is costar, with Macolm-Jamal Warner, of UPN’s “Malcolm & Eddie.” (Griffin also directs segs and has cowritten the theme, “The World Is Ours.”) The feature is being created by Bernie Brillstein and Peter Safran for Brillstein/Grey and they’ve obtained rights from Jennifer Lee, former wife of Pryor. The 58-year-old Pryor is suffering from MS. The busy Brillstein has also decided to package a one-man “live” show on the life of Robert Evans. No, Evans will not star, although he did a masterful job of reading from his bio at the Aspen Comedy Arts Festival in March of this year. At that time Brillstein had planned to produce a filmed documentary about Evans’ life and even says so in his book, “Where Did I Go Right?” (Little, Brown). Evans was among the 350 guests (200 were expected) at the BevHills Hotel Crystal Room Foyer party given Bernie by Jill and Brad Grey Monday night. The party was called for 7-9 p.m. but went on well beyond, with the stalwarts segueing upstairs to help close the hotel’s Polo Lounge … Among those at Brillstein’s book signing (he had to visit a chiropractor for writer’s cramp Tuesday ayem!) were George Shapiro and Howard West, who had been in the mail room of N.Y.’s William Morris office along with Bernie. Also on hand William Morris’ Larry Auerbach, who had given Bernie this credo: “Don’t let anyone talk to your clients!” Brillstein practices that effectively to this day — to the delight of his clients.

A FAX FROM ANDY WILLIAMS in Branson, Mo., said he’s winging today to Nashville and the Vanderbilt Medical Center’s Dr. Robert Ossoff for a followup examination on his vocal chords. Andy wrote me, “He (Dr. Ossoff) scoped me with that little TV camera that they have now and took some pictures of my vocal chords and throat.” As announced, Pat Boone and his daughter Debbie pinch-hit for Andy at his Moon River theater in Branson Nov. 5-Dec. 2. Wrote Andy, “I hopefully will then be able to return and finish out the Christmas season. I will be talking to you soon.” We know you will, Andy … Aaron Spelling admitted, “I was stunned by his anger.” He was referring to son Randy (21), who read to Aaron his character’s four-letter-worded lines from “Held for Ransom,” the Dennis Hopper starrer now shooting in Florida. Spelling’s “Sunset Beach” is writing around Randy’s nice guy role while he vents his anger in “Ransom” … Bob Daly was looking out the window of his office (formerly Peter O’Malley’s at Dodger Stadium) and marveling at the view — looking down the left field line and viewing where the luxury boxes are in the process of being built. “They’ll be ready for opening day here (April 14 vs. Cincy),” he assured. Daly will first be on hand in Montreal for the season opener, April 3, following Vero Beach Spring training warmups. Experiencing his first week as a Dodger, Daly admitted he tried 12 years ago to become a Dodger owner, and again two years ago. “This is a totally different experience” from Burbank and WB, he said happily … With preparations being made for the Academy’s retrospective of 27 films to honor Billy Wilder, a suggestion arrived for the inclusion of his last film, “Buddy Buddy,” which Wilder had written with longtime collaborator I.A.L. Diamond. It starred Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau with Paula Prentiss and Klaus Kinski in the Alain Bernheim/Jay Weston production. Weston reminds, “Virtually no one in the industry has ever seen it since it came out at Christmas week in 1981 with 23 other movies and by New Year’s MGM had virtually pulled it from distribution. Its failure was painful to Billy, who seemed to withdraw from active filmmaking after that.” Weston would have us believe that ” ‘Buddy Buddy’ is a truly fine Wilder farce which deserves to be ‘rediscovered.’ ” But Daily Variety’s review by Todd McCarthy, Dec. 9, 1981, said of the film, “Wilder can effortlessly deliver more wit and social insight in a 10-minute interview than can be found throughout” this film. Fortunately, Wilder continues to give more of his wit and insight in conversations to this day.

FRANCIS LEDERER CELEBRATES his 100th birthday Nov. 6, with a party given by wife Marion at Lakeside C.C. Friends toasting him will include Mel Shavelson, Patricia Medina, Turhan Bey, Bill and Rose Narva. But Tuesday night, he was already Happy Birthday’d at his American National Academy of Performing Arts in North Hollywood, where he continues to teach each week. The handsome Lederer began his acting career in 1919 in his hometown, Prague, later becoming a matinee idol on stage in Vienna and bowing in European films in 1928. He moved to the U.S. in 1932 and was successful on B’way before his first U.S. pic, “Man of Two Worlds.” The civic-minded Lederer, who’s been given many awards, played Nazis in pix like “Confessions of a Nazi Spy” during WWII for which he received the National Board of Review Award for best acting. He is a co-founder of the Hollywood Museum and a former president of the So. Calif. chapter of the American National Theater & Academy and has been an inspiration to generations of young actors whom he has taught. Happy Birthday, Francis.

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