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‘Life with Bonnie,’ and Tom Hanks

GOOD MORNING: Tom Hanks plays Bonnie Hunt’s husband — again. They previously teamed in “The Green Mile” for director Frank Darabont. Next week, it will be Bonnie Hunt directing Hanks (and herself) in a segment of her ABC series, “Life With Bonnie.” And it’s a dream sequence in which they are married — and in which they are to go off to dinner with “Steven” and “Kate” (you-know-who). Hunt also writes and exec produces the Touchstone series with Don Lake; Kim Tushinsky produces and series savant Sam Denoff is consultant. The show has already guestarred Carl Reiner, David Duchovny (both of whom will return) and Jonathan Winters (who praised the show on camera with, “I think I worked my whole career for today,” at his taping finale). A guestint upcoming is Roberto Benigni as a studio carpenter. And it is hoped, Robin Williams will be on hand for another seg of the 22 ABC ordered. I visited the “Life With Bonnie” set on Stage 6 at the Culver Studios and can report it was indeed a most happy visit — also because Rip Taylor was guesting, playing a (comedic) gossip columnist. Taylor doffs his clown coiffure to play a French general in the Kate Hudson starrer “Loosely Based on a True Love Story” for Rob Reiner. And Rip’s wig helps put a final jarring note to “Jackass” . . . Added note on Tom Hanks: he will present his “Philadelphia” co-star Denzel Washington with the American Cinematheque Award Dec. 6 at the BevHilton. Others set to toast Washington include: Halle Berry, Mel Gibson, Angela Bassett, Bruce Willis, Spike Lee and Robert Downey Jr.

“IT BOGGLED ME,” said David E. Kelley when the New York Times headlined him with “A Catholic Writer Brings His Anger to ‘The Practice’.” He is a Protestant — “a Congregationalist,” he said. We were discussing the timeliness of “The Practice’s” segs about the sex abuses in the Catholic Church – while the bishops meet in D.C. And the subject of Catholicism will continue in the series, says Kelley, as two of the principals, (Bobby Donnell and Lindsay Dole, played by Dylan McDermott and Kelli Williams) continue to debate their child’s baptism. And two of the other members of the firm debate Catholicism. And further, Bobby is next called on to defend a child rapist, after expressing his rage against the Catholic church abuses. Kelley says ABC has been “completely supportive in the theme(s) of the show” and “never” has there been any censorship. Topics upcoming include a two-parter on the death penalty, and the erosion of civil rights since 9/ll.… While Kelley sez there has been no negative public reaction to “The Practice” addressing the Catholic issue, there has already been U.S. public reaction to Carlos Carrera’s Mexico-made feature, “El Crimen del Padre Amaro” (“The Crime of Father Amaro”) — even though the film’s not yet released here (starts Friday). Samuel Goldwyn Jr. whose banner distribs domestically, says a New England group is among those crying foul. “But when I invited them to see the film, they declined,” Goldwyn tells me.

WAYNE BRADY’S SHOW has been picked up by Buena Vista for a total of 35 weeks. Wayne got the good news while in the hospital recuping from knee surgery following an accident during a dance on the set … The New York Palace hotel’s $10,000-a-night triplex rooftop suite was the site for the touching 100th episode of “Will & Grace.” Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace (Debra Messing) danced on the rooftop terrace at sundown with a background of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings to the right and left. Ah, as Cindy Adams would say, “Only in N.Y., kiddies”… And next day — in the bathtub of another Palace hotel triplex suite — Jiminy Glick, aka Martin Short, was sudsing with an 80-year-old gal as Jan Hooks surprised him! While at the Palace, Short also taped guests Jack Black, Lorraine Bracco, Jon Stewart and John McEnroe for his Comedy Central series to start in April — by which time he’ll have filmed the feature version. He will starts rehearsals for the May 29 L.A. bow of “The Producers.” Oh, of course he’ll also tape Mel Brooks and Jason Alexander for segs of “Jiminy Glick.”… The Museum of TV and Radio’s Bob Batscha segued from Beijing and the museum’s international council to Miami where he met with Cristina Saralegui (who has 100 million viewers globally) to put together a Spanish language collection for the museum. In Beijing, Batscha relates, President Jamin surprised all at a state dinner by joining the National Opera performers singing “When We Were Young” and “O Sole Mio”! . . . John Amos presents the Literacy in Media award for outstanding achievement in documentary feature film to Avon Kirkland at the Universal Hilton on Friday. Amos appears in Kirkland’s “Ralph Ellison: An American Journey” . . . Mary Tyler Moore chairs the all-star “Celebration of Caring” Saturday at Universal’s Hilton to benefit Actors and Others for Animals . . . Andrzej Krakowski screens his “Farewell to my Country” Nov. 23 and 24 at the Laemmle Monica. The unique film interviews Jews expeled from Poland — in 1968 — by the Communists . . . “Babij Jar,” the Jeff Kanew-directed film by producer Artur Brauner about the massacre of more than 30,000 Jews by Nazis outside Kiev, was screened Sunday at the Museum of Tolerance. Museum director Liebe Geft says the audience sat in stunned silence at its conclusion. It screens for the foreign press Monday at the DeMille Screening Room at Culver Studios.

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