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Just for Variety: Academy sets new mail call

The check — excuse me — the ballot is in the mail.

A new set of approximately 4,200 Oscar ballots were mailed out late Tuesday night, replacing the “lost” ones dropped off at the BevHills Post Office on March 1. The Post Office told me the new ballots will positively be delivered today to Acad members.

Acad and PricewaterhouseCoopers staffs were busy until late Tuesday night stuffing (and supervising) the replacement ballots in new, yellow envelopes. An enclosed letter warns members not to use the original envelope, should they receive it in the mail. “If the Academy gets back (ballots in) white envelopes, they will be destroyed,” warned Acad PR director John Pavlik. What about the already-delivered N.Y. and European ballots, in white envelopes? They will be accepted “by their low serial numbers: approximately 1-1400.” And no, the deadline for returning ballots has not been changed: It remains 5 p.m. March 21, just five days before the awards presentation Howcum the first batch got bolloxed — as exclusively reported by yours truly in Daily Variety Tuesday — and only two of eight sacks (not 10, as originally described) have been found? The Postal Service’s Terri Bouffiou claimed the Academy brought in the ballots in gray sacks, “traditionally for bulk mail, so we processed it as such and the sacks were sent to the L.A. Processing Center.” The Acad told me they traced two bags to the Marina Del Rey post office, from which they were then sent to the bulk mail division in Bell. On Monday, the Acad’s Pavlik admitted the Acad has always delivered its ballots to the post office in the gray sacks; however, the post office insists first-class mail must be placed in 6-inch tall, 2-foot long, 1-foot wide trays. Bouffiou figured eight-10 trays would be enough for the 4,200 envelopes containing the ballots. After the Acad’s printer was busy Tuesday morning creating new return envelopes for the new ballots, postal workers picked up the trays at the Academy late Tuesday night. Stay tuned.

THE ALAN LADD FAMILY is mightily upset with a line in Par’s “Wonder Boys,” in which Tobey Maguire’s character (“James Leer”) names Ladd as one of many celeb suicides (along with Albert Dekker and Carole Landis). Ladd died Jan. 28, 1964; Alan Ladd Jr. told me he is disappointed (and surprised) that no one on the Paramount lot made mention of that line to him. After all, Par was the star’s alma mater and “Shane” is his legacy. Paramount’s toppers must have had to had to read that line in the Steve Kloves script (Kloves is also a friend of Laddie’s and they’d worked together), and heard it in the dailies. Yet no one mentioned it to Laddie. “My dad was not a suicide,” Alan Ladd Jr. said. “But now try and explain that to five grandchildren,” he related after one came home from school where a classmate had told him his grandfather killed himself! David Ladd told me he was in the audience at the preem of “Wonder Boys” and when he heard that line, he was “devastated.” At the post-preem party on the Par lot, people came up to him and said, “I didn’t know your father was a suicide!” Ladd’s daughter Carol Lee (Mrs. John Veitch) and Alana (Mrs. Michael Jackson of KRLA) also told me how upset they are. The star had his problems, certainly, but he never said a mean word about anyone and never treated anyone badly. I used to love to stop on my mail route on the lot and talk with Ladd in his dressing room suite on Par’s famed dressing room row, next to Bing Crosby’s and Ray Milland’s.

UP TO PLAY JIM MORRISON in “Celebration of the Lizard”: Kevin Bacon and Lou Diamond Phillips are among those interested in the Morrison role. Grace Jones plays the Lizard Woman. The play by Joel Lippman will be directed by Sam Woodhouse at the San Diego Repertory, May 26-July 2. The Doors’ Ray Manzarek who keyboarded — with Robbie Krieger, guitar, and John Densmore on drums — says the play’s “the story of redemption.” Manzarek is “artistic overseer” of the play. Lead singer Morrison died in 1971, but Manzarek assures us “The Lizard is still jumping!” The true-and-never-before-revealed story of thesp Bob Crane — his life and death (murdered June 29, 1978) — is finally told in the script of “Say Cheese.” It’s written by Crane’s widow Sigrid Valdis, his son Scott and John Evison. Lee Blackman is repping the project and Valdis tells me the script contains things about Crane’s life never before revealed. She was originally going to call the film, “Take Off Your Clothes and Smile” “I thought I was going to die,” Phyllis Diller admitted to me after she completed working in the rain in N.Y. in “Everything’s Jake.” She plays a bag lady living in front of a dilapidated theater in the pic starring (and coproduced) by Ernie Hudson, Graeme Malcolm, Lou Myers, Robin Givens, Lou Rawls, etc. She went from the pic to the hospital, where she received a pacemaker. She is feeling fine and heads out on the club circuit this weekend, plays Vegas’ Stardust April 13-16. Meanwhile, “Everything’s Jake” was SRO at the Santa Barbara Film Fest and gets another screening March 11 Annie Potts, who joined the troupe of “Vagina Monologues” at the Wiltern in L.A. Feb. 16, joins Gina Gershon and Lynn Thigpen in the Gotham production April 4-16 Nostalgia time: He danced with Ginger Rogers, sang with Lena Horne — and that ain’t all. Lee Hale, who was a musical director of “The Dean Martin Show” and later producer of the “Dean Martin Roasts,” would “play” Dean in all the rehearsals of Martin’s shows, since Dean only showed for the last minute. But he always showed, was never a problem and “was inimitable,” says Hale, who signs his book “Backstage at the Dean Martin Show” (Taylor) at the BookStar in Studio City Thursday Hale also produced the recent Society of Singers’ Tribute to Tony Bennett (Julie Andrews is next) and the upcoming Professional Dancers Tribute to Fred Astaire, Buddy Ebsen and Marge Champion Paul Brownstein is readying the DVD (video) release of “CBS Salutes Lucy: The First 25 Years,” a 1976 special produced by Gary Morton; Brownstein’s also agenting the March 18 airing on TV Land of “The Adoption,” an episode of “Jackie Gleason’s American Scene Magazine,” an hour musical “Honeymooners” with Jackie Gleason, Art Carney and Audrey Meadows. The show hasn’t been seen since 1965.

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