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Martin & Lewis telepic saga continues

GOOD MORNNG: The race to be the first (and best?) with a telepic of the Martin & Lewis saga heads down the stretch. To refresh your memory, in December Daily Variety noted HBO, with exec producers Brad Grey, Bernie Brillstein and Billy Gerber, was readying the M&L story. Last month an M&L project with Sean Hayes as Lewis was revealed in these pages as a CBS project from Storyline and Columbia TriStar TV. Last week Grey, Brillstein and Gerber met with Lewis and his longtime manager Joey Stabile in Las Vegas to seal their deal. As for Dean Martin’s involvement, his longtime agent, friend and executor of the Martin estate, Mort Viner, tells me, “I’m waiting to see the scripts. I’ve met with them both.” But also reminds the duo’s doings are in public domain. Meanwhile, I’d like to tell both parties that Jerry is now writing his own book! Lewis, who has long suffered pain from back injuries accumulated from years of no-holds-barred performances, is hospitalized in Vegas for a procedure that he hopes will reduce the pain and by next month remove the need for the medication. But nothing stops his energy — he was the last to quit last week’s meeting on the HBO biopic plans… Add news on the hospital beat: Director John Frankenheimer is due home Wednesday for a rehab program following his back surgery, in which two broken vertebrae were replaced.… And L.A. Times arts editor emeritus Charles Champlin is recuping at the Berkeley East Convalescent Hospital in Santa Monica after surgery for a broken wrist and fractured hip sustained during a N.Y. visit, where he was to be honored with the Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Champlin, who has lost most of his eyesight to macular degeneration, stepped into a N.Y. pothole … And Norman Corwin celebrated his 92nd birthday in Santa Monica-UCLA Hospital — undergoing therapy after hip surgery. He slipped at home. P.S.: He’s continuing to write … Frank Cooper celebrates his 90th birthday today, 70 years in the biz — and 65th wedding anni to wife Sylvia, May 30. Tom Werner and Katie Couric are building a home overlooking the fifth tee at Riviera Country Club. Abigail Sarnoff Ross, the eighth grandchild of Tom and Jan Sarnoff, was born May 16, the first child of Cyndi Sarnoff Ross and Michael Ross. Dad is assistant general counsel of Platinum Equity … Final vital note: Ed Begley Jr. hosts the June 6 invitational tribute to Acad-winning production designer Richard Sylbert. To attend the service arranged by his wife, Sharmagne Leland-St. John Sylbert, and the Art Directors Guild, email RSYLBERT@aol.com for time and place.

THERE MAY BE SOME VERY INTERESTING REACTION to the bow of the long-delayed “ivans xtc,” which finally opens June 7 in N.Y., L.A. and Chi. The film’s directed by Bernard Rose and scripted by Rose and Lisa Enos and should evoke some reminiscences of the late Jay Moloney, who was Rose’s agent at CAA. In the film, the handsome Danny Huston plays the tragedy-headed agent; among the real people playing roles is CAA’s Adam Krentzman. “(Adam) was very helpful,” Rose said. After the (uncomplimentary) pic was screened in 2000 at CAA for prospective distributors, Rose says, “It met with a lot of resistance.” Release comes after two years, several film fest screenings and a conversion from high-def digital to commercial 35mm. It was reviewed by Daily Variety‘s Todd McCarthy in its original form at the Toronto film fest Sept. 24, 2000, when he wrote, “Although commercial prospects are limited, moody piece could develop a small cult following and in the broader picture stands as another interesting example of a name filmmaker taking the plunge into stripped-down, no-frills high-def/digital feature.” But now with the 35mm conversion, it has a distributor, Artistic License. Rose insists to me that high-def “is good for the business.” Other members of the biz seen in “xtc” include Rhino Films’ Stephan Nemeth and producer Hal Lieberman.

THE LADIES OF SHARE raised another $1.3 million (approximately) for local charities, president Joni Berry happily tells me, following their 49th annual Boomtown bash Saturday at the Santa Monica Civic. And 2002’s member of the year was revealed as Gloria (Mrs. Mike) Franks. The souvenir journal was dedicated to Jay Livingston, who contributed generously to many years of Boomtown. And this year’s show was dedicated to Milton Berle, who livened countless nights for the charity. This year’s show was produced by Maxine Smith (husband Gary Smith was a major contributor!), and the bash itself by Jan Sarnoff. The entertainment: Roseanne, Garry Shandling, Olivia Newton John and Ray Charles. James Gandolfini introduced honoree HBO’s Chris Albrecht as a “visionary.” A reel of his HBO shows was screened to give further proof. As always, the stars of the show were the SHARE chorus girls in Rockette-like precision performances to both open and close the show. On to the 50th celebration next year!

DENNIS HOPPER CELEBRATED his 66th birthday with a gathering at his home, where he and wife Victoria hosted Esa-Pekka Salonen, composer and music director of the L.A. Philharmonic, toasting the magnificent premiere of his “Foreign Bodies.” And Frank Gehry, architect of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which will bow next year. Salonen confided to me the hall will be very “intimate.” And Gehry allowed the creative structure has met with many difficulties. And quickly laughed, “So have my others!” The spectacular night, which brought together art, film and L.A. society, was a rare treat for all — by all.