Goldberg returns to host Oscars

GOOD MORNING: Whoopi Goldberg will host the 74th Academy Awards — her fourth hostint in a decade. Producer Laura Ziskin told me she is beyond happy that Whoopi has agreed to take on the tough job. Especially this year. “Whoopi has such warmth and humanity,” Ziskin reminded, illustrating with Goldberg’s recent stint at the Mark Twain Awards in D.C. Whoopi is not expected to don examples of the nominated costumes, as on a previous Oscar outing. But one never does know, does one? … The family that plays together stays together. Director Steven Soderbergh segued from WB’s “Ocean’s Eleven” to the (much) lower-budgeted Miramax “Full Frontal.” But Julia Roberts followed her “Ocean’s” role with an appearance in his short-skedded “Full.” Further, Soderbergh’s producer on “Ocean’s,” Jerry Weintraub, makes an appearance in “Full,” playing a magazine owner who fires David Hyde-Pierce. In addition, with “Ocean’s” star George Clooney taking directing reins on “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” (based on the life of “The Gong Show’s” Chuck Barris), Weintraub again dons makeup to play a role for Clooney. He plays the head of the ABC network. Weintraub should feel at home in the pic; he reminds, “Barris was a buddy of mine” … Liza Minnelli has asked Esther Williams to be matron of honor at her wedding March 16 at the Marble Collegiate Church in N.Y. When Williams expressed her joy at having been asked, I reminded her that Elizabeth Taylor had already been asked to be matron of honor. It didn’t deter Esther; she told me the five-month cast on her fractured ankle is due to be removed Friday. “And I’m going to wear silk shoes when I march her (Liza) down the aisle.” Williams will be prominent in an upcoming “History of Synchronized Swimming” video. One seg shows her teaching the Yale (male) team “how to swim pretty.” The 1958 seg was part of an “Omnibus” show, and is as glamorous as any of her MGM aquatics.

PICKFAIR ONCE AGAIN has Pia Zadora living in the main house–and her ex, Meshulam Riklis, is living in the guest house. Riklis says Pia has separated from husband Jonathan Kaufer and she has moved into the showplace house of Hollywood history, in which she and Riklis have an ownership agreement. She moved into the house “for better security,” says Riklis … Add Hollywood history: Kaurie MacMurray, daughter of June Haver and the late Fred MacMurray, married industry marketing exec Marc Gerver Dec. 28 at the Bel-Air Hotel. Bob Ahmanson walked the bride down the aisle; attendees included Ann Rutherford, Rhonda Fleming and Anne Jeffreys … Over at the Peninsula Hotel, Mildred and Sherwood Schwartz celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with a gala dinner party. Sherwood and his son, producer Lloyd, also were celebrating the completing of their “The Brady Bunch in the White House” for the Fox Network. They have another script ready for another telefeature. This one’s titled “The Brady Bunch Faces the Mob.” And Sherwood’s “Gilligan’s Island” is making its way to the feature world with both Universal and Jersey setting sail for the nonstop “Gilligan.” Sherwood started his showbiz career writing for Bob Hope’s radio show.

AMONG MY REMEMBRANCES from the past holiday season was one I won’t soon forget: Sean Connery doing a no-holds-barred dance backed by a rock choir group, part of the holiday entertainment David Foster had arranged at the home of Barbara and Marvin Davis. Connery voluntarily performed when it was announced Michael Bolton wasn’t able to make it. Connery was applauded by performers including Kenny G., Peter Connelly and Natalie Cole and a line of Rockettes in the grand hall of the Davis home. Guests included Barbra Streisand (who declined Foster’s invitation to sing), Quincy Jones, Zubin Mehta, Leslie Moonves, Sidney Poitier, Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, Anjelica Huston and Robert Graham, Sherry Lansing and Billy Friedkin, Brooke Shields, Candy Spelling, Richard Riordan, Mavis and Jay Leno, Suzanne Pleshette and Tom Poston, the Ed McMahons and the Kelsey Grammers. David Foster and wife Linda Thompson have written “Light the Fire,” which will be sung at the Olympics opening ceremonies. Foster and Carole Bayer Sager’s “The Prayer” will be sung at the closing ceremonies by Charlotte Church (15) and Josh Groban (20) … Ann-Margret, Grammy-nominated for her “God Is Love: The Gospel Sessions,” is extending her 20-month “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” tour … And George Hamilton is extending his B’way bow, as Billy Flynn in “Chicago” at N.Y.’s Shubert, and will play through Feb. 17. He has two films going into release: Woody Allen’s “The Hollywood Ending” and “Offkey” with Danny Aiello and Joe Mantegna … Salomon Smith Barney has agreed to host the Junior Philharmonic Orchestra’s 65th-anniversary concert spectacular May 1 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Dr. Ernst Katz is celebrating his 65th year at the podium … Don Taffner, chairman of DLT Entertainment, receives his OBE (Order of the British Empire) Jan. 17 at the British Embassy in D.C. for his contributions to British film and TV in the U.S.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Tuva-Novotny

    Tuva Novotny Questions Monogamy in 'Diorama' Pic (EXCLUSIVE)

    HAUGESUND, Norway  — Actress-turned-helmer Tuva Novotny thrives on big challenges. Her feature debut “Blindspot,” Norway’s entry for the 2019 Nordic Council Prize, was shot in real-time in one take and illuminates mental health issues. Her sophomore mainstream Swedish pic “Britt Marie Was Here” –slated for a Sept. 20 U.S. release via Cohen Media Group –  [...]

  • Seizure

    Writer Megan Gallagher On Her Viaplay Supernatural Nordic-Noir 'Seizure'

    With outposts in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo, Miso Film has become one of the most influential film and TV outfits in Scandinavia. On August 19, the company’s Norwegian arm lifted the curtain on its series venture, the supernatural police drama “Seizure” by premiering the show’s first two episodes at the Haugesund Film Festival ahead of [...]

  • Thoma-Robsahm

    World Partners Board “a-ha The Movie” as Helmer Tells It All (EXCLUSIVE)

    HAUGESUND, Norway  — Pitched at Haugesund’s New Nordic Films confab, Thomas Robsahm and Aslaug Holm’s doc “a-ha -The Movie” won’t hit screens before November 2020, but an array of new production and distribution partners have already boarded the project. Clementina Hegewisch of Neue Impuls and Matthias Greving of Kinescope Film in Germany are now co-producing [...]

  • “@Chica-Chile-Norway”

    Miso Film Norway Unveils ‘Tainted’ Details, Drive to Target Youth Audiences (EXCLUSIVE)

    HAUGESUND, Norway  — Miso Film Norge, the Oslo-based arm of one of the most prominent of Scandinavian production outfits whose credits include “1864,” Warrior“ and Netflix’s “The Rain,” has part lifted the curtain on its latest scripted venture, the teen revenge-thriller “Tainted.” The TV outfit produced the 8×30 series in collaboration with Norwegian public broadcaster [...]

  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

    Film News Roundup: Stephen King's 'Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon' Movie in the Works

    In today’s film news roundup, a Stephen King horror movie is in the works, “Downton Abbey” is seeing strong sales and a project about Revolutionary War soldier Deborah Sampson is in development. KING ADAPTATION Stephen King’s “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” has been set up as a movie at George A. Romero’s Sanibel Films, [...]

  • Moviepass

    MoviePass Confirms Security Issue With Customer Records

    MoviePass, the struggling movie ticket subscription service, has confirmed a security issue may have exposed customers’ records. In a statement, MoviePass said Wednesday that the security lapse was recently discovered and its system was immediately secured. Reports of the data breach first surfaced Tuesday through the Tech Crunch site, which alleged that tens of thousands [...]

  • Matthew Modine

    Matthew Modine Accused of Violating Labor Laws With Campaign Videos

    Matthew Modine has been accused by SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris of violating federal laws in his campaign to unseat Carteris. The production of three campaign videos for Modine by the for-profit New York Film Academy — on whose board Modine sits — has been blasted by Carteris for alleged violations of federal labor law prohibiting [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content