‘Producers’ to hit the big screen

GOOD MORNING: “It’s down to dotting the ‘I’s’ and crossing the ‘T’s,” said Universal’s Stacey Snider about bringing the musicalized B’way production of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” to the screen — where it all started. “We’re planning on it,” she said “and with the same creative team.” That means Brooks, his co-writer Thomas Meehan and director Susan Stroman. And the original co-stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. No deals have as yet been made, but she enthused, “We want to make it a film event the way he made it a Broadway event.” She discussed “opening it up” as most films do with a legit show. However, some of the theatricality of the play can’t transpose — such as the opening of the second act when partners Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom find their battered office transformed into gleaming white by their new secretary Ulla, who admits she did it “in the intermission” to a giant laugh. Stacey met Mel for the first time at the Grill for lunch. She was immediately won over by his relationship with everyone in the room–including the waiters. “He’s an original,” she admitted. Mel explained to me how “The Producers'” original film rights evolved to Universal: from Embassy to Dino De Laurenttis to Jerry Weintraub to EMI, to Vivendi and Canal Plus — thus Universal. With the L.A. company at work until January, he adds three-month stands in Boston and Chicago plus a touring national company. And, of course, there’s still New York. “I’m enjoying a wonderful third act of my life,” Brooks admits. As for the next B’way musicalized outing, he and Meehan still have not yet decided between “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles” … Current L.A. co-stars Jason Alexander and Martin Short continue to get standing ovations and evoke roars of laughter at every performance. I didn’t hear any louder cheers for any members of the New York cast than I did for this great troupe on stage at the Pantages in L.A. And it’s led by the co-stars, both of whom admitted they’ve lost a great deal of weight from the physicality of their roles. And Jason continues to get speech and vocal therapy — a vocal cord became paralyzed during previews. “And I didn’t think I’d be able to go the night after the opening,” he admits. But he did — and continues. He’s off all coffee and alcohol. Short, between shows, is busy editing his feature “Jiminy Glick in LaLaWood” for Gold Circle to bow at the Toronto Film Fest.

DICK SMOTHERS WALKED OVER to Martin Sheen on the golf course in Las Vegas and congratulated him — for being outspoken on any issue. Tommy and Dick Smothers, he reminded me, were “fired” from CBS after they raised questions about the Vietnam War. “We couldn’t even get eye contact with anyone in Hollywood after that,” Dick said. “And now, now it’s even harder to criticize the government.” The Smothers make their first return to L.A. in 20 years — playing a three night stand starting tonight at the Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip. “We never played there. The Troubadour several times — and the Hollywood Bowl.” They’ll be inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame June 27 when they appear in a gala with Nathan Lane and Patti LuPone. Tom admits “L.A. has always been scary for us.” Even though they’ve been in the biz 44(!) years. Tom says of straight man-brother Dick: “If the audience doesn’t believe in the straight man, they don’t believe in the comic. He is one of the top straight men of all time — like a combination Bud Abbott, Oliver Hardy, Dean Martin and Dan Rowan.”

REMEMBER THE CLASSIC JACK BENNY line when a thief demanded, “Your money or your life” — and a hesitant Benny slowly replied, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking.” Well, on Sunday director Dick Fleischer and wife Mickey were about to be re-married in a surprise wedding ceremony conducted at their home by retired California Supreme Court justice Armand Arabian. He asked Dick if he would take Mickey as his lawful wedded wife. Long pause. Mickey asked, “Well?” Dick: “I’m thinking, I’m thinking.” Arabian, no stranger to the showbiz assemblage, was a member the Masquers Club, had recently settled the lawsuit between Britney Spears and Sketchers and also co-wrote the song, “Armenia” with Michael Lloyd, one of the guests along with the many longtime friends and associates of the Fleischers: Alan Armer, Walter Mirisch, Ernest Lehman, Phil Gersh, Frank Davis, Hy Engelberg, Phyllis Diller, Richard Anderson, Roger Mayer, Ann Berns and Ira Skutch, A.J. and Carole Carruthers, Alan Bernheim and the Fleischers’ loving family.

JULIE ANDREWS, GODMOTHER to the Crystal Cruise’s newest addition, will christen their Crystal Serenity July 3 at the Queen Elizabeth II Cruise Terminal in Southampton, England. This past weekend, Julie unveiled her “Julie Andrews Collection” (Harper Collins) to Book Expo in L.A. She heads to Miami on June 9 to address the PBS affiliates and continues on to Sag Harbor where she’ll direct “The Boy Friend,” which bows Aug. 9. In November she starts “Princess Diaries 2” for Disney and director Garry Marshall. The film shoots interiors on the Julie Andrews Stage where she shot scenes for “Mary Poppins,” well as “Princess Diaries.”… Also at Book Expo, Carl Reiner, making appearances on following nights for his “My Anecdotal Life” (St. Martins Press) and “Tell Me A Story — But Not Too Scary (Little Brown, Children’s Publishing). Reiner, who is also doing the “Alan Brady” animated series and “Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited” for CBS, says, “I’m enjoying old-life crisis.”

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