O’Donnell, NRA conflict over Kmart ads

GOOD MORNING: You know by now that I’m not one to join forces with Charlton Heston and the NRA. Well, I’m not exactly joining forces with Chuck — but he did open my eyes to something neither I — nor Rosie O’Donnell nor Penny Marshall may have known. So here goes. Heston takes shots at O’Donnell in his column for Guns & Ammo, for her treatment of NRA member Tom Selleck when he guested on her show. Heston, calling Rosie “the gum-chewing gun-grabbing hostess,” added, “Ironically when Rosie O’Donnell isn’t demonizing firearms and bullying gun-owners, she’s been busy profiting from her celebrity endorsement of Kmart, the largest-volume firearms retailer in America.” Coincidentally in the news Thursday, was the revelation that the 9-mm ammunition used by Columbine High School killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had been bought for ’em at a Kmart by Mark Manes who has pleaded guilty to supplying a weapon to a minor. I also learned from Marshall, O’Donnell’s co-star on the Kmart commercials, that the duo is skedded to do another Kmart commercial on the 29th. When I informed Marshall that the Columbine ammo had been bought at Kmart, she was shocked and said she’d find out about it, reminding me that she is a staunch supporter of gun control. Rosie wasn’t available but Bernie Young, her manager and exec producer of her TV show, told me Rosie’s position is clear on gun control — “responsibility.” As for Kmart, he said Rosie is OK with hunting rifles but not with hand guns, and certainly no assault weapons. “She’s spoken to Kmart’s Floyd Hall and they’re well aware of her position. If this were a perfect world there’d be no guns — but it’s not a perfect world.” Meanwhile Rosie tries to make the world a better place — having donated $9 million, 99.9% of her earnings from the commercials, to the For All Kids Foundation. “And,” Young added, “Rosie will continue to do the commercials for Kmart.” In the interim, Marshall is off to the Hamptons to guest at Ron Perelman’s. She’s had to delay the start of “Riding in the Cars With Boys” until March when Drew Barrymore will have completed “Charlie’s Angels” — “and also had a chance to rest. I don’t want a tired actor,” Marshall laughed.

I HAVE BEEN A FAN OF the National Geographic since before I could read, so I’m always happy to hear good news about its now-many tangential products. Its “Mysteries of Egypt,” the first large-format film co-produced by the National Geographic Films and Destination Cinema and starring Omar Sharif, has passed the $30 million mark at the box office with 30 additional markets skedded in the next two years. It will be shown at the IMAX theater in L.A. Jan. 28, playing 450 shows through next Aug. 31. And it will also open in London at the BFI in September … Another favorite pastime of mine is watching TV shows about fauna and flora — the real stuff outside Hollywood. So it’s a kick to talk to “Wild Things” exec producer Bertram van Munster as he whirls around the world lensing the unusual, unusually. Last month we talked when he was in South Africa, having already visited Dr. Richard Leakey in Nairobi where he’d gotten an OK to film in untouched areas. And this week we spoke from Indonesia where he’d made arrangements to film headhunters (not the corporate types) and snakes (not the ones we know) never shown before. It’s extremely lethal. He starts his third season airing Sept. 13, distributed by Paramount Domestic TV. He says, “I must salute Paramount for backing this thing of value.” He had initially thought to have a celeb narrator, but decided those who film their segments “have their own star quality. A celebrity would be out of context. Besides, the animals have a different kind of dignity.” He feels the same way about using indigenous music “instead of big symphonies.” Of course he has plans to do a feature — and since Van Munster had eight years’ experience on “Cops,” he says his movie would be about “the ultimate drug deal” — and it’s about human animals.

MUSIC NOTES: NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN the L.A. Philharmonic and the inimitable John Mauceri, principal conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, may be breaking down as he’s completing his ninth record-setting year. Mauceri’s music magic is also matched by his showbiz savoir faire … During intermission of Saturday’s Hollywood Bowl concert, KCOP-13 will feature a tribute to “Mr. Hollywood Bowl,” Mel Torme. Dale Sheets, Torme’s manager for 30 years will continue overseeing Torme tribute concerts plus compilation of CDs including “Mel Torme: The Concord Years” (Concord) with his pal George Shearing writing the liner notes … Sid Luft made a six-figure deal with the U.K.’s Eagle Rock Entertainment for the “Judy Duets” CD … Peter Levinson’s bio of Harry James, “Trumpet Blues” will be published Nov. 8 by Oxford. Levinson’s next book is the Nelson Riddle bio, “September in the Rain” … Rhino Records is readying “Yes I Can: The Sammy Davis, Jr. Retrospective” for Nov. release … Up With People presents its “Roads” revue at the John Anson Ford Theater Monday with a cast of 135 students from 25 countries … Metropolitan Talent Agency prez Christopher Barrett is guest speaker this ayem at the Women in Film breakfast at Paramount … The “Di Palma Forum” tapes today in Las Vegas to benefit the University of Nevada’s Outreach Program … At the Tropicana, Marty Allen was inducted into the “Casino Legends Hall of Fame.” Well, hello dere!