Ann-Margaret goes legit in ‘Whorehouse’

GOOD MORNING: Ann-Margret is going back on stage for the first time in seven years — to star in “The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas.” She’s agreed to tour in the show for a year in the U.S. and then mebbe overseas. She says she’s missed being on stage with a live audience. A-M had been offered “Annie Get Your Gun” but when producer Manny Kladitis came up with the “Whorehouse” offer she accepted. Ann-Margret’s currently in Melbourne for a one-week cameo as Marilyn Monroe’s grandmother Della (Daily Variety, July 28) in CBS’ “Blonde.” Ann-Margret did not know Marilyn, but they shared the same hairdresser and makeup artist George Masters. A-M is also contemplating accepting the feature film offer to star in “Finding Home” before starting December rehearsals in “Whorehouse,” which will open in Feb. … “Come to the table,” Kathy Ireland asked the Association of National Advertisers reps Thursday at the Family TV Awards taping at the BevHilton (airs on CBS, Aug. 10, 9 p.m.). Ireland had previously asked for SAG Pres. Bill Daniels’ OK to be a presenter on the ANA-sponsored show, but added this plea to her script. Ireland will also be seen in PAC’s first feature, “Once Upon A Christmas” … Frances Fisher, one of the stalwarts urging a SAG-AFTRA solidarity turnout Monday at the Palladium tells me of another problem facing thesps working in Canada — many pacts deny them residuals. She discovered it on her deal to play Jackie Kennedy’s mom, Janet Bouvier in CBS’ “Jackie,” filmed in Montreal. With makeup magic, Fisher ages to 79 in this pic. The mini is skedded to air Nov. 5-6, dates when NBC planned to air its “Jackie, Ethel, Joan: Women of Camelot.” Now, I’m told NBC, which had claimed priority in air date, is deciding to change its time.

THERE’S ALWAYS TIME TO LEARN about filmagic, allows Paul Verhoeven, who unveils his biggest bag of tricks to date in “The Hollow Man.” He has been so busy readying his film for release, he hasn’t had time to view “The Perfect Storm.” “I’d like to study how they did it — in the water!” (Verhoeven has a murderous pool scene between Kevin Bacon and William Devane in his pic). And as for his movie magic in eliminating Bacon by degrees into the “hollow man,” Verhoeven tells me the inspiration is from 1770 (!) anatomical figures in Florence’s Specola museum. His daughter found pictures of ’em in a book and dispatched one of his staff to Italy to take hundreds of pix of them … Verhoeven gives hefty praise for Bacon’s ability to perform convincingly under the strangest of settings. And he was pleased with the audience reaction at Wednesday’s preem at the Village theater, laughingly noting, “It wasn’t like ‘Showgirls’!” Which of course led me to ask if Joe Eszterhas had seen this pic. “No, and I haven’t read his book,” laughed Verhoeven, who also directed “Basic Instinct” scripted by Eszterhas. They have a “love-hate relationship” and Verhoeven warns, “We haven’t seen the last of Joe.” As for “Basic Instinct II,” Paul says he’ll meet with Sharon Stone Monday to see the ideas she and Mario Kassar have for the sequel. “I’m not a fan of sequels,” he forewarns. He thinks it will be even more difficult to film today because, “We’re moving more and more into a Puritan society.” And reminded, he had to submit “Instinct” 10 times to tone it down from NC-17 to R. “And all of my earlier films were basically X.” As for other films, forget talk about “Rasputin,” and he’s awaiting the script on the story of free love advocate Victoria Goodhull for which Nicole Kidman is to star for producer Paula Wagner.

GARY SINISE, THE TOAST OF LONDON in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” winds his stand Saturday at the Barbican, having bowed with his Steppenwolf troupe (celebrating its 25th anni) in Chi. “The way we’ve been received has been incredible,” he said. “It’s a great show, great part, great company,” he enthused after his second show, Thursday. In to see him (it’s SRO) have been Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Albert Finney, etc. The play had not had a major revival since the film. You recall it was Kirk Douglas in the play who originated the pic’s plans — produced eventually by son Michael. After a vacation, Sinise has a few added scenes to do in Miramax’s “Impostor” … Patrick Stewart who recently wound his B’way stand in Arthur Miller’s “The Ride Down,” winged to London to greet the arrival of his grandson born to his daughter Sophie. … Patrick and Wendy Neuss will be married at the Hotel Bel-Air Aug. 25 … “The importance of electing Al Gore in this year’s election got me to return to concert production one last time,” says Harvey Weinstein. He’s partnered in yet another gala for the Gore campaign. This one’s “The Concert,” Sept. 14 at Radio City Music Hall, for the Democratic National Committee. Weinstein’s teamed with Jann Wenner and John Sykes to present this concert featuring Jimmy Buffett, Bette Midler, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Lenny Kravitz, Sheryl Crow, Jon Bon Jovi, Macy Gray, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Timothy B. Schmidt who will perform songs by “The Eagles” — plus name presenters. The Sinatra family’s Sheffield Enterprises Inc. has won a Superior Court judgment against the Mandacy Entertainment Group enjoining ’em from selling, producing or distributing any Frank Sinatra “audio visual works” and also instructed ’em to destroy all Sinatra inventory and to stop using his name and likeness in ads and promos. The Sinatra children have been actively (legally) pursuing legal action against all those who illegally claim rights to their dad’s works — and have been selling ’em at outlets and webs.

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