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‘Men Are From Mars’ pilot sold to Sony

GOOD MORNING: First came “Jeopardy,” then “Wheel of Fortune” and now Merv Griffin has sold another show to Sony — this one, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.” Eleanor Mondale will host the vidversion of John Gray’s book and its sequels (over 7 million copies sold). This is one of four pilots Merv Griffin Entertainment’s banner has in the works for next year. Griffin launches the millennium with a monster party throughout his Merverly (excuse it!) Hilton Hotel New Year’s Eve. He champagne-toasted the party announcement Thursday ayem in the hotel’s L’Escoffier Room — to be renamed the Stardust — keeping the musical tradition he’d set renaming his Miami hotel, the Blue Moon. New Year’s Eve at his BevHills hotel will boast what he believes is the best music (and he should know!) of the millennium: Tex Beneke and his orch, Ray Anthony and his Big Band, Tito Puente Jr., Boogie Knights, Rudy Regaldo’s Latin Jazz Band and Swingerhead. They’ll play from one end of the hotel to the other, from the entrance to the rooftop — food, booze, etc., and all for $1,000 per person. Sure, Merv will sing a song or two. As I noted earlier this month, Merv Griffin Prods. is also creating the special daytime event in the golden triangle of Beverly Hills’ streets … Speaking of the millennium: although hundreds of flights were canceled this week, travel plans were perking by the hundreds who attended the Leading Hotels of the World 1999 Worldwide Showcase Wednesday night at the BevWilshire. Reps from the creme de la creme of the hotel world were smilingly greeting over 400 travel writers who were learning the ever-increasing business and luxury attractions for the millennium.

KIRK DOUGLAS GAVE ONE MILLION-$ to his alma mater, St. Lawrence U. Douglas winged to the Canton, N.Y., campus Thursday to make a presentation to the school from which he graduated as an English major in 1939 — having been its champion wrestler. The grant’s for minority student scholarships. Douglas noted he was glad to see greater diversity on campus than existed when he was a student. He went on from St. Lawrence to Amsterdam. N.Y., for a family reunion … Theo Bikel performs a monologue as a holocaust survivor from Dachau in “The Gathering” at Sunday evening’s Yom Kippur services at the Temple Shalom for the Performing Arts. Bikel received raves for his B’way performance in “Gathering.” He told me he’d visited Dachau — as did I. Something never to be forgotten — or forgiven … Holiday services at both the Shofar Synagogue (at the DGA) and at the Laugh Factory will be available to all regardless of ability to pay. Reservations required for the latter … Ann Miller makes her first appearance at the Hollywood Bowl tonight through Sunday. She’ll sing “I’m Still Here” and “Shaking the Blues Away.” Miller exclaims, “I’m thrilled to pieces!” … Cure Autism Now holds its benefit concert at the Key Club on the Sunset Strip tonight with performances by Sarah McLachlan, Perry Farrell, the Flys, Common Sense and others. Thursday, Anthony Edwards (Dr. Marc Greene on “ER”) and Artisan Entertainment’s Jon Shestack were scheduled to testify before a Senate hearing on Senate Bill 512, a bill to help fund research on autism — both men have families with autistic children … Peter Roth, prez of WB TV, and wife Andrea will receive ERAS Center’s first Champions of the Children award Nov. 16 at the BevWilshire. David E. Kelley makes the presentations. The Roths are parents of an autistic child. The goal: to raise $500,000 to allow the ERAS Center’s new facility to open in fully functional capacity in Jan. … Among those speaking at Harry Crane’s services, 2 p.m. Sunday, will be many for whom Crane wrote material over the years: Milton Berle, Jan Murray, Garry Marshall, Sid Caesar, Alan King, Steve Allen, as well as granddaughters Melissa and Sara Gilbert … At Allen Funt’s services today, 10:30 ayem at Mel’s Drive-In on the Sunset Strip, son Peter Funt will speak and screen favorite clips from “Candid Camera.”

KEVIN COSTNER SEEMED TO HAVE MELLOWED about the rating-influenced editing on “For Love of the Game” as the pic’s campaign continued from N.Y. westward through press junkets and up to Wednesday p.m.’s preem in Century City. A carnival-like party followed in a parking lot behind the Century Plaza Hotel. Costner told me he liked the movie (as did the audience) and he would even do another baseball-themed pic (would be his fourth) if he found another story. Next week, he starts the Cuban missile crisis-themed “13 Days,” again with producer Armyan Bernstein. Baseball fans at the preem party were also treated to the Club Major League Baseball Road Show — complete with batting and pitching cages for would-be showbiz baseball players — plus a traveling museum of memorabilia and clips of baseball history. Take me out to the ball game … Producer Suzie Geller takes her “I Am Beautiful” show (8:30 tonight on Lifetime) “live” on the road and on the web next year to promote women’s self-esteem. Among those appearing, filmed, on the show tonight, hosted by Meredith Viera: Trisha Yearwood, Courteney Cox, Gloria Steinem, Linda Ellerbee … Rip Taylor was ripped off of about $5,000 and credit cards as he was distracted waiting for a ride outside the Flamingo Hilton in Las Vegas heading to the airport. And on arriving, while driving home, he got a traffic ticket !