Jewison’s tuner dreams dashed

GOOD MORNING: But what I really want to do is direct — how many times have we heard that one? Ah, but when you hear it from a director, you wonder. But not long when the director is Norman Jewison who says he wants to direct — a musical. Let’s not forget he did “Fiddler On The Roof” (for which he was Oscar-nominated) and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Today, he sadly admits, “they don’t want me to do another.” Among those film tuners he has had his eye on is “Chicago” whose go has been start/stopped for years. But he’s not disheartened — after all, it has been eight years since he first wanted to do the Rubin “Hurricane” Carter story, which finally came to fruition with Armyan Bernstein. And even then, he thought it was so much story it might have to be a TV four- to six-parter. Fortunately that was before Denzel Washington. “He is at the peak of his career,” Jewison says. “He was so committed to this role emotionally.” And physically. Jewison admitted to Denzel, “I can’t help you when you’re in the ring. And he wanted no doubles.” Although many accolades for the film have followed, Jewison admits his disappointment at not having been nominated as one of the five DGAward candidates. But, he philosophically observes, the Oscar nominations are yet to come (Feb. 15) and the (feature) directors branch of the Acad is only 354 members. The Directors Guild had 12,000 eligible to vote, but they include feature, TV, commercial and TV news and sports directors as well. But — the DGA reminds — only four times was a DGA winner not among the Acad director nominees … Equally disappointed in Jewison’s absence from the DGA’s list is “Hurricane” producer Armyan Bernstein, who said he was “heartsick.” “There’s no harder film to make than a drama (like ‘Hurricane’) that also lifts your spirits.” Armyan plans to keep making spirit-lifting pix like “13 Days,” “Family Man” and then “Jack the Repair Man” which he describes as “Indy Jones” meets “The Matrix.” As for Bernstein’s latest honor, ShoWest 2000’s “producer of the year” award, he says, “I’m very honored. I must be doing something right, but I’m hesitant to accept the award — I’m so busy and I have to get a haircut!”

THE CLOCK WAS ROLLED BACK — AND HOW — at Suzanne Pleshette’s going-away party/wake at Le Dome for husband Tommy Gallagher who died Jan. 21. It was also Suzie’s birthday. And the 22nd anniversary of the Sunset Strip’s last remaining classic (classy) eatery. More than 300 crowded into the back rooms where she had arranged display cases containing memorabilia — including mementos of his vices (J&B bottles, cigarettes, playing cards) and photos of members of his card-playing days — including regular poker game contributors David Begelman and David Janssen. Players still on hand and at Le Dome included Victor Drai and Asher Dann. The guests, who spilled out into the eatery, included the Lew Wassermans, Marvin Davises, Frank Mancusos, Sinatras, Nancy Sr. and Jr., Tina, Frank Jr. and (separately) Barbara. Speakers included Suzanne’s longtime TV costar Bob Newhart, Burt Sugarman, Nikki Haskell, Marty Ingels and the incomparable Suzanne who generously interspersed her remarks with colorful (unprintable) descriptions. Among those there, Dick Martin, whom Gallagher had booked (Rowan and Martin) pre-Hollywood at the Balinese in Galveston. Newhart told how Tommy would never invite anyone to dine at their home. Except once. And Gallagher went to sleep while the guests were served their entree … Suzanne, alone, had buried Tommy at Hillside near some of his poker buddies. That’s the way he wanted it. Atop the sling on her fractured right arm, Pleshette wore a sticker: “Broken shoulder.” On the left side, a sticker read, “Broken heart.” The mob serenaded her with “Happy Birthday” when an enormous cake was wheeled out. And others who sang included Kirk and Anne Douglas, Neile and Al Toffel, Peter Falk, Dick Van Dyke, Elliott Gould, Candy Spelling, Connie Stevens, Stefanie Powers, Neil Sedaka, Gil Cates, Dino Conte (who winged back from the East where he buried his mother), Danny Welkes, Irving Feins, Ray Katz, Michael Viners, Joel Silvers, Len Goldbergs, Mimi Weber, and Tommy’s waitresses from Nate’n Al’s. For those who never knew what Gallagher did (he negotiated all Suzie’s deals), Marty Ingels said, “Tommy Gallagher could just ‘be’. He could go anywhere, with no objective, no target, and no agenda and just ‘be’.” But, he was a refreshing be-ing in Hollywood.

LIFE IS A B-SCRIPT. And in view of today’s air tragedies, you couldn’t make the ersatz airplane disaster movies of yesteryear, “Airport 75,” “Airport 77,” or “Airport ’79 The Concorde.” Even the 1980 spoof, “Airplane!” Of the last mentioned, David Zucker even admits, “We couldn’t make it today. We’d be forced to make it as an R-rated movie.” Instead, he is “taking shots at everything” in the government with an NBC half-hour pilot, “H.U.D.,” which he describes as “the most politically incorrect series of all time.” And so far the web’s standards and practices has only objected to one item — which Zucker made “even better.” The title refers to the Department of Housing and Urban Development — in name only. It is used as a camouflage for a super secret agency which no one would suspect under those initials. Zucker signed his feature regular, spoof master Robert Stack, to play “Deep Throat.” And Theo Bikel as a villain. The series stars Steve Carell and Meredith Salinger in the show written by Zucker and Steve Koren with producer Gil Netter joining director-producer Zucker.