Lorna Luft preps show with mom

GOOD MORNING: “I’ve finally made peace with the legend,” Lorna Luft says as she readies to “duet” with her mom, Judy Garland. The debut of the singing teaming is May 28 at the Hilton in Atlantic City, when Lorna will sing with her mom, as Natalie Cole did with her dad. The latter’s on screen-“live” “Unforgettable” duet has become a showstopper in Natalie’s appearances; of course, Lorna hopes that her/their song(s?) in her act (written by Ken and Mitzi Welch) will ditto. One tune is “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and two others may be included. But not so fast — Lorna’s father, Sid Luft, says Lorna cannot use films (tapes) of Judy singing. He claims ownership and says use of them in Lorna’s act would be detrimental to a potential feature, “Rainbow’s End,” being prepped by Oliver Stone. However, Lorna’s attorney Jeffrey Berkowitz contradicts Sid and produces evidence: a N.Y. District Court Order entered Oct. 28, 1998, which would give Lorna rights to use the TV clips of her mother in her show, “Songs My Mother Taught Me.” Sid and Lorna haven’t spoken to one another in over a year, since publication of her book “Me and My Shadows.” It will be made into a three-hour Col/TriStar ABC project produced by Storyline’s Craig Zadan, Neil Meron and Lorna; they’ve set Emmy-winner Judy Davis to play Judy Garland (she will lip synch to Garland’s recordings). A moppet will play Lorna at age 12, but Lorna will play herself as an adult. Yes, Liza Minnelli and Joey Luft will also be portrayed in the telepic. Lorna tells me she is ecstatic that Davis will portray her mom. And Luft further admits, about duetting with Judy, “I ran away from this for so long” … Lorna was recently on a plane en route to Houston (where she was speaking for the National Council of Drug Abuse and Alcoholism), but the plane had to be re-routed because of a potential tornado. Sitting in front of Luft was Minehart Rabbie, who played one of the Munchkins in “The Wizard of Oz.” “Can you imagine,” said Luft: “There is a tornado warning and I’m on a plane with a Munchkin! My mother would have laughed!”

LIFE IMITATING ART or art imitating life? I was watching the second part of “Noah’s Ark” on NBC Monday night and was impressed by the special effects — especially the typhoon sequence; simultaneously I was watching, via the picture-within-a-picture, CNN and MSNBC, showing the real-life twisters in Oklahoma. Both the filmmakers and the TV newsmakers did terrific jobs … Tony Awards exec producer Walter C. Miller studied the list of nominees and realized the problems for the June 6 CBS airing: several of the nominated shows are KO’d; however, he has already gotten assurances from many top performers that they will appear. They include Rosie O’Donnell, who, although not femceeing, has said she will be a part of the show. And nominee Kevin Spacey will definitely be a presenter. Miller segues from the B’way legiter to produce the Country Music Assn. awards from Nashville, followed by The People’s Choice Awards and then the Grammys … .In between these is the Emmys, Sept. 12, with Don Mischer exec producer. He says this year’s TV award show will be three hours, instead of last year’s four … Dyan Cannon, who plays Judge Whipper Cone in “Ally McBeal,” played herself in an “Arli$$” seg at a Laker game. She’s a Laker fan. But this time, she got to sit on the floor next to Magic. The actress, who conducts her semi-weekly “God’s Party With Dyan Cannon” Bible study and outreach program on the CBS Radford lot, says that program is really “where my heart is.” She is writing a book, “No More Idols,” for HarperCollins. It is a “tell-all”? “On me,” she laughs. Talking of “Arli$$,” the show also boasts guestars Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens and owner George Steinbrenner talking the contract that another all-star pitcher, Kevin Brown, has with the Dodgers — a pact that includes a private plane for the entire season. Clemens wants the same — in the “Arli$$” show produced by Marquee Tollin/Robbins, a division of Bob Gutkowski’s Marquee Group.

ANN SOTHERN, 90, will be honored by the Museum of Modern Art with a retro starting May 7 and including Mike Kaplan’s docu on her, “The Sharpest Girl in Town” … Monday’s fundraiser at Gotham’s Kit Kat Club for victims of the Yugoslav crisis raised over $200,000. The event was put together by “Lion King” star Jason Raize and publicist Bobby Zarem and speakers included: Art Buchwald, Dr. Ruth Westheimer (a Holocaust refugee herself at the age of 10), Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and Ambassador Sklar. The long list of entertainers helped promote awareness of the 800-HELP-NOW phone number. Among the elite in the crowd, the Metropolitan Museum’s Ashton Hawkins who has rented his Patmos, Greece, island home for the summer to Rita (Wilson) and Tom Hanks … And the producers of Net Aid — Harvey Goldsmith, Ken Kragen, Jeff Pollack and Don Mischer — have decided that proceeds of the two big concerts in N.Y. and London will be utilized for programs aiding the Kosovo refugees … “Whose Line Is It Anyway’s” Wayne Brady hosts a fundraiser May 9 at the Hollywood Athletic Club, with proceeds to the Healing Fund authorized by the United Way of Denver to benefit families of Littleton. For info please call (310) 247-8164.