GOOD MORNING: “It was the most difficult movie I’ve ever made,” director Billy Friedkin admits as he has finally wound “The Hunted” for Par. The film shut down in June when Benecio Del Toro suffered a fractured wrist in a fight scene with Tommy Lee Jones when both were reaching for a knife. Del Toro underwent surgery at UCLA after which he had extensive therapy. In the interim, Friedkin was, of course, able to edit. But he now admits the time also allowed him to review “the concept” of the film. And although there were originally only eight or nine days left to film, the original locations in Oregon were under 20 feet of water following floods. So, they spent two months readying, shooting and in post up there. Benecio, fully recovered, did all his stunts “in the wall-to-wall” action film, which includes a huge chase. Friedkin says, “He was very courageous.” The pic will be released in October. Now back in town, Friedkin checked the new MGM DVD of his “To Live and Die in L.A.” (1985) which he approved heartily. He also got word from (Bert Fields’ office) that his (and Bill Blatty’s) suit(s) vs. WB are moving along with a Nov. 4 court date set for Superior Court for the civil suit over “The Exorcist” proceeds. Their federal suit of copyright infringements is still in the discovery state. And for a change of pace, Friedkin’s readying to direct the two operas for Los Angeles Opera, “Duke Bluebeard’s Castle” and “Gianni Schicchi.”
THE FAMILY’S NOW COMPLETE for the Douglases’ “Smack In the Kisser” — also known as “Smack in the Puss” or “Family Jewels”: Bernadette Peters will play Michael Douglas’ psychologist-wife and mother of their two sons, Cameron (Douglas) and 11-year-old Rory Culkin (who was mothered by Laura Linney in “You Can Count On Me”). The Further Films pic for MGM-Buena Vista starts shooting in N.Y. March 18 with Fred Schepisi directing. Bernadette gets days off to comply with several concert dates. Her new album, “Bernadette Peters Loves Rodgers & Hammerstein” (Angel) hits the stalls Tuesday. And she returns to B’way to star in “Gypsy” in January. She recalls singing the chorus of the road company — when she was 13! … Michael Douglas wound a comedic guestint in “Will & Grace” last week and returns to comedy in June in “Till Death Do Us Part” at WB … Scott Glenn and wife, painter Carol Glenn, will host Ellie Weisel at their Ketchum, Idaho, home, April 21 in a $100/head event to fund a campaign by the Jewish community in Idaho to promote tolerance. Glenn, whose heritage is Irish and native American, converted to his wife’s Jewish faith when they married decades ago. Ex-Marine Glenn, no stranger to military roles and upcoming in Miramax’s “The Buffalo Soldiers,” is also working with the Department of Defense in a campaign to assure national support of service men and women engaged in the war against terrorism … Joe Cortese, who has played characters named “Sardini,” “Rosetti,” “Vitali,” “Bonnatti,” “Marino,” “Romano,” “Gubiacci,” “Varese” and “Bolanti,” thought he was to play another you-know-what in “Against the Ropes,” (“The Jackie Kallen Story: The Lady and the Champ” for Par). Instead, the producers and director Charles Dutton chose him to play — Irv Abel, Meg Ryan’s Jewish mentor. Cortese has also scripted “A Moment In Time” for Joe and Jack Productions. He’s “Joe.” “Jack” is his 11-year-old son … Clint Eastwood’s new film, “Blood Work,” gets even more diverse in its casting as Paul Rodriguez joins as Eastwood’s LAPD adversary.
JAMIE LEE CURTIS WILL HOST the Starlight Children’s Foundation 19th anniversary “Dream” gala, April 6 at the Hollywood & Highland Grand Ballroom. Jamie knows first hand of the Starlight’s activities — when her 5-year-old son was hospitalized. The Foundation’s Fun Center in the hospital “completely changed my son’s experience in the hospital from one of anxiety and pain to one of happiness, playfulness and distraction.” And fortunately, Jamie Lee’s son is now completely recovered … The ladies of SHARE distributed another million-$ to 16 local charities aiding women’s and children’s causes, bringing to $36 million SHARE has given to such causes. SHARE prexy Joni Berry and chair Marilyn Katleman officiated at the distribution ceremonies at the BevHillls Friars Club … Wendie Malick and Robert Urich will co-host the Ark Trust’s 16th annual Genesis Awards March 16 at the BevHilton. The awards honor outstanding individuals in the news and entertainment media who have spotlighted animal issues with courage … Jamie Farr, Cpl. Klinger for 11 years on “MASH,” receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters on March 15 at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City … Ace fotog Alan Berliner, who has chronicled every celeb in the biz for over 40 years, was partied on his 70th birthday by wife Ruth with a big bash at — Los Alamitos Race Track’s Vessels Club. Family and friends winged in from as far as Greece and Italy to toast the well-loved lenser … And the amazing publicist Julian Myers, ran fifth in his age group at the L.A. Marathon. Myers is 84 and it was his 18th marathon. Time 8¾ hours! … Jason Stuart is inked for three additional segs in ABC’s “My Wife and Kids” — as an openly gay psychiatrist solving the problems of a straight couple.