GOOD MORNING: “He must be sitting on top of the world,” my friend said of The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) as “The Scorpion King” rose to even higher B.O. And indeed, that’s where I uncovered The Rock on Wednesday, flying high over the Alps from Paris press parleys on the pic to more in Madrid last p.m., after which he soars again to be in N.Y. tonight for an appearance on David Letterman’s show. Johnson had preceded these stops with ditto duties in London and Hamburg. The affable 29-year-old Rock doesn’t object to the press-ing pace. “I like going full throttle,” he laughed. And, in view of this sked, I asked how he managed to stay in shape? “Wherever I am,” he said, “they keep the gyms open at night for me — for 30 minutes.” After a three-week break — to be with his wife, Dany, and 8-month-old daughter Simone at their Miami home — he’ll start story confabs on his next U pic, “Helldorado,” which starts filming in September. He describes the Amazon River-set contemporary action pic as “a cross between ‘Lethal Weapon’ and ‘Midnight Run.’ ” “I love comedy,” he said. “In ‘Scorpion King,’ it was kind of hard to do it.” His future film career, he said, will follow “the rudimentary ideology of putting out fun entertainment.” As for his “other” career — the WWF — he wasn’t too sure of his return. “Maybe in a couple of months.” When I told him of Daily Variety’s front-page story Wednesday about LMNO Prods. teaming with Ultimate Fighting Championship to bring martial arts to commercial TV, he said, “That’ll be great” — but he’s never been a part of that genre of entertainment. However, he reminded that he and one of its stars, Ken Shamrock, “worked together on a nightly basis for a year” for the WWF. “He was great to work with,” said The Rock, “a great guy to emulate my intensity! My industry, the WWF, is like making movies. You’ve got to be perfect.” He was appreciative of complimentary remarks I passed on to him from Lorne Michaels, for whom he’d won ratings via his “SNL” hostint. He also was celebrating the fact that his CD songstint was going platinum. “But if I get a Grammy nomination and play my guitar — I’d clear out the entire hall.” The nonchalant Rock admitted, “I’m really very lucky. My small team works as hard as I do.” They like him, they really like him.
MORE ON LIZA MINNELLI’S RETURN to showbiz — thanks to a phone call from Ann Miller, who in turn was phoned by Liza, who just dined with Princess Caroline in Monaco. Now honeymooning in Cannes, Liza asked Miller to join her act when she bows for seven nights at the Beacon in N.Y. June 2. Liza wants to dance/sing with Ann on Miller’s hit number “Shakin’ the Blues Away” from “Easter Parade.” Miller, who has known Liza “since she was a baby,” is thrilled to do it — as you can imagine. She didn’t know if Liza was adding any other pals to her act … And talking second generations, James Caan just did a stint acting for his son Scott (25) in “Rusty and Dallas” with Jeff Goldblum and Kelly Lynch. The two had worked together in “A Boy Called Hale” — when Scott was 16. A few years back, Caan pere moved with his new family to Park City, Utah, from Hollywood, but says he’s now ready to return here after traveling around the globe on projects including “Lathe of Heaven” for A&E, shot in Montreal; “City of Ghosts” for UA in Cambodia; “Hearts of Men” for USA Network, shot in New Zealand; and Zentropa Entertainment’s “Dogville,” shot in Sweden, in which he played Nicole Kidman’s father. He’s now working on a family-set pilot for Fox-USA.
ERROL FLYNN AND FIDEL CASTRO? Yup, footage of a 1958-59 film by Flynn and producer Victor Pahlen has been found by Pahlen’s daughter Kyra. It contains scenes of Flynn with Castro and footage of the Cuban Revolution. Flynn hosted and narrated the documentary. Aside from a showing in Moscow, the pic has never been seen. Now, All Day Entertainment’s David Kalat has restored it and will release a DVD edition Tuesday with an introduction by Kyra Pahlen. All Day also is restoring Edgar Ulmer films … “By the Sea,” filmed in Rhode Island by Dean Huh and Dean Barnes, gets its preem Sunday at the Castle Cinema Cafe in Providence, R.I. … “Women Who Run the Show” by Mollie Gregory was previewed to femme showbiz pros Tuesday night at the restored Bullocks Wilshire building, now part of the Southwestern U.’s School of Law National Entertainment & Media Law Institute. The St. Martin’s book, to be published in August, includes interviews with Barbra Streisand, Fay Kanin, Liv Ullmann, Sherry Lansing, Marcy Carsey, Martha Coolidge, Amy Pascal, Lili Fini Zanuck. Subjects include power, sexual harassment and the role of pro, wife and mother. Beth Kennedy, former Universal VP, moderated. Among those on hand, Mary Ledding of U, Ann Nelson, CBS, Johnna Levine, formerly of WB … Gil Stratton, vet sportscaster, will be installed as new president of the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters May 17 at the Sportsmen’s Lodge. The dais will include Nanette Fabares, Gale Storm, Dick Crenna, Jerry Dunphy, Stu Nahan, Sweet Lou Johnson and — John Wooden … The N.Y. Friars’ tribute to Milton Berle Monday — in the Milton Berle Room — will include Abbot Alan King, Dean Freddie Roman, Jerry Stiller, Danny Aiello, Jeffrey Ross, Mickey Freeman, Dick Capri, David Brown and Robert Merrill.