Hurricane flushes cast from ‘Safe Harbor’

GOOD MORNING: There was no safe harbor for Aaron Spelling’s “Safe Harbor” troupe in Jacksonville, Fla. At 6 ayem Tuesday, Spelling got a phone call from the company, which was ordered out of their permanent sets and sites by the National Guard, due to Hurricane Floyd. An emergency evacuation plan was put in action and buses started moving the cast, crew and their families to Tallahassee, where 78 motel rooms were rented. Coincidentally, the series’ main set is a motel — but on the beach at Jacksonville. Spelling said he couldn’t recall a single day when the series was ever rained out. Also on Tuesday, Mickey Rooney — skedded to wing in, to guestar in a “Safe Harbor” seg — was grounded. Spelling wound the hectic day in L.A. as honoree of BAFTA, receiving the Britannia Award for Excellence in TV at the BevHilton. Accepting for her late husband, Christiane Kubrick was given the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film … I also received a Floyd-flagged-down phone call Tuesday from John Wesley Shipp (who plays James Van Der Beek’s father on “Dawson’s Creek”), who was in Wilmington, N.C., and packing up as he spoke. They were in the midst of shooting a high school football scene when ordered to evacuate. He reported the roads were already jammed; he didn’t know which route he would take at that moment to drive north and west. He said he’d been in Wilmington on two previous hurricanes, “but this is a monster!” … Add disaster news: Fire destroyed the entire second story of Maxine and Gary Smith’s BevHills home while they were in N.Y.; he was shooting a seg with Ricky Martin for his Sony/CBS “And So This Is Christmas” special for Target. The Smiths had the house up for sale, but had not yet moved out all their belongings (of 24 years) into their new home! They’ve now moved into a Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow.

I ACCEPT THIS HONOR in the memory of John Kennedy Jr.,” Stevie Wonder told me when I called to congratulate him as one of the five Kennedy Center nominees of 1999. The awards show, which will also salute Victor Borge, Sean Connery, Judith Jamison and Jason Robards Jr., will be taped for CBS at the Kennedy Center Dec. 5. Wonder said of young Kennedy, “I liked him — he was a people person.” Stevie told me, “I was in shock when I was told (of the Honor). I was there when Ray Charles received his. I never dreamed I would receive one — and at 49! I will only try to continue my life and career as a vehicle to inspire and spread God’s message of love.” Wonder, who lives in L.A., said he’s contemplating a home in southwest Africa as well, he was so impressed by a visit there: “People there were like people I remember in Detroit!” As for his music, Wonder’s working on a gospel album well as one dedicated to Duke Ellington. “I’m writing all the time,” he promised … I reached Robards at his home in Greenwich, where he too was enthused by the Honor. He happily reported he is feeling a lot better, after a six-month hospital stay brought about by a staph infection. He was in a coma for a while, says he recalls little from that period: “It was weird, only hearing a couple of voices, from my wife and kids.” He worked in the upcoming pic “Magnolia” — “But it was easy, I was a playing a guy dying in bed!” He’s now regained his strength and weight but says he won’t work any more this year, except for the pro bono commercials he does. “You’ve got to give back,” he emphasized … I spoke to Borge, 90, as he returned from gigs with the Houston and Chicago symphonies. “I used to do 98 performances a year,” said Borge, “but I’ve now cut down to 96!” And he says he’ll continue “so long as I can fill the hall.” Borge’s amazing record is even more impressive when you realize he came here from Denmark in 1940 and couldn’t speak a word of English … Connery was en route here from Scotland and we’ll catch up with him and fellow honoree Jamison at the awards, if not sooner. George Stevens Jr. and Don Mischer had their first meeting on the awards here Tuesday. Louis J. Horvitz will again direct the telecast and Walter Cronkite is, as always, emcee. Stevens is also busy prepping the millennium special with Steven Spielberg and Quincy Jones — starring President Clinton; the show from the White House was initiated by Hillary Clinton.

AN EVENING DEDICATED to the memory of George Burns will be presented Oct. 7 by UCLA’s School of Theater, Film & TV and UCLA Film & TV Archives. A campus sound facility in his name will also be dedicated. The George Burns Trust donated $1 million to the school … Excite @Home, which launched an Emmy site Sunday, will continue to give archival (repeat) info on all the Emmy goings-on, which were covered live — including those multi-star interviews with yours truly on the red carpet at the Shrine. So far 50,000 hits have been registered … Jerry Herman’s musical “Miss Spectacular,” set to debut the new 1,500-seat theater at the Mirage in Las Vegas, is a year away; but next week, Jerry’s score will be CD’d in a “concept album” by Steve Lawrence, Michael Feinstein, Faith Prince, Christine Baranski, Debbie Gravitte, Karen Morrow and Davis Gaines; each will be on a different song to a 54-piece orch baton’d by Don Pippin, Herman’s right-hand since “Mame.” Frank Galati will direct the show, book by Rob Freedman. Casting will be by a country-wide search, says Jerry.