GOOD MORNING: When Jennifer Lopez isn’t needed in front of the cameras with Robert Redford in Kamloops, Canada, for producer Alan Ladd’s Miramax-Revolution “Unfinished Life” she wings to Vancouver, where fiance Ben Affleck is starring in “Pay Check.” He’s also writing the script for Ladd’s Paramount pic, “Gone Baby Gone” in which he will star, may direct and his co-star “may very well be” J.Lo, sez Ladd . She’d play Affleck’s hard-boiled Boston private eye partner. At a recent party J.Lo also told Barbra Streisand she’d like to have her direct a pic for her … “The Story of Natalie Wood “will be “a tribute to her,” says director Peter Bogdanovich, who portrays her tragic death “as an accident.” Now editing the ABC’er, he says it will be either three or four hours long. He’ll next return to his role of shrink (Dr. Elliot Kupferberg) to Lorraine Bracco (Dr. Jennifer Melfi) in “The Sopranos” where this season he’ll also direct a seg for the first time. And in Showtime’s “Out of Order,” Bogdanovich plays a director. Versatile Bogdanovich also has book upcoming, “Who the Hell’s in It?” … Martin Richards was honored Wednesday at N.Y.’s City Hall “for bringing the Oscar back to N.Y.” He brought his “Chicago” Oscar with him! P.S. He was also toasted for his many charities. Marty’s still thrilled with the pic’s awards and today at the N.Y. Friars’ Club, he announces the Drama Desk winners. He’s also exuberantly talking future shows like the musicalized “The Life” as “Times Square,” and Woody Allen in the musicalized “Bullets Over B’way.” And the feature “Dodsworth” is alive again at WB, he enthuses, having spoken to Tom Hanks about starring. Richards is on a high!
THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS: Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, stopped in town to talk support from/with Steven Spielberg … Professor Menachem Magidor, president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was in L.A. to greet local American Friends of the H.U., but left quickly Tuesday when another suicide bomber struck in Israel. You’ll recall five American students at the university were killed July 31 during a suicide bombing at the U’s. Frank Sinatra Plaza. He told me “life goes on in spite of everything with the enrollment fantastic” … Friday’s screening of Oliver Stone’s “Persona Non Grata” in Washington, D.C., for Shimon Peres was canceled as Peres also had to return to Israel. Peres did speak at the N.Y. screening Wednesday … Merv Griffin sez he’ll be able to bring his pooch Charlie Chan into Ireland this summer — by first stopping France to get a clearance. Merv owns the John Huston Galway Manor House, St. Clerans (now a 12-room super deluxe hotel). Friday Merv hosts a fundraiser for the new John Huston School of Cinema and TV at the National U. of Galway at the BevHilton where Angelica Huston will be honored … Tomorrow, tomorrow: Friday, the writers of “Annie,” Thomas Meehan (book) and Charles Strouse (music) and Martin Charnin (lyrics) will attend four back-to-back productions of Broadway Junior’s “Annie Junior” in Providence, R.I. It’s a Brown U. program to bring Broadway to youngsters.
IT’S A NEW THEATER in Westwood: at Monday Night’s “Backstage at the Geffen, Gil Cates announced the new experimental theater to be built on the very site where Monday night’s cocktail’er and post-show were held. It’s to be a 120-seater to be called the Audrey Skirball Kenis Stage at the Geffen. The campaign is $25 million and half is already raised! And judging by the cheers at Monday’s performance by the spectacular cast filling the stage, the rest should soon be coming. Congrats to all. … And at the BevHilton, the Society of Singers’ tribute to Barry Manilow (with the Ella Award) raised $500,000 for the org, which has a property in Sherman Oaks where 13 singers who filled our lives with music now reside … The Postal Service honors the late Henry Mancini with a stamp to be unveiled by his friend — dating back to their starting days at Universal — Clint Eastwood at the annual “Mancini Musicale” at UCLA, Aug. 16. The stamp is released April 13, which would have been Hank’s 80th birthday … The Women’s Guild of Cedars-Sinai hosts tonight’s preview of the annual L.A. Antiques Show at Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport with honorary chairs Judy and Bernard Briskin and Tracy and Tony Danza. The Women’s Guild has raised more than $15 million for patient care … Happy 77th birthday to Cloris Leachman who holds the record for having played “mom” to more thesps than anyone, currently Grandma Ida in “Malcolm in the Middle” and next is mom to Peter MacNichol and Valerie Bertinelli in the CBS pilot “Crazy Love” … Today at the Dramatists Guild’s Frederick Loew Room, Ron Clark and Donald Alan Siegal hold a presentation of their new musical comedy, “My Wife’s Name is Maurice” based on the French play, “Ma Femme S’Appelle Maurice” by Daffy Shart … Frances Fisher reports the saveSAG.com group got a shot in the arm with an anonymous donation of $30,000 to help pay for a minority report (pros and cons) on the merger proposal between SAG and AFTRA. The next save SAG.com event will be May 14, an informational and “bring your checkbook” cocktail party at the home of Connie Stevens … A memorial for multi-Emmy winning production designer Jan Scott will be held Sunday at the TV Academy.