TV vet finds new life in marriage

GOOD MORNING: Robert Halmi’s life story would make for a most interesting film — especially this most recent chapter. “I am on my honeymoon,” Halmi (79) phoned me. He married his partner Caroline Gray (her first) April 5 at home in N.Y. “I picked up the Yellow Pages under ‘weddings’ and I got someone and I then called my son Robbie who came over.” At that time, Halmi Sr. was awaiting a donor for a kidney transplant. He underwent the successful surgery May 9 at the Cleveland Clinic and has set up his offices in the hotel next to the hospital, where he will spend the next three weeks having daily checkups. “But I feel like a new kid,” he enthused, “more energy than I’ve ever had” — and anyone who knows Robert knows his boundless energy. “I’m working on seven projects in this office here — shooting ‘9/11’ in Canada for Showtime, in post-production on ‘The Lion in Winter,’ readying ‘Faust’ and ‘She’ for TNT, ‘Aztec’ for ABC and ‘Hercules’ for NBC.” He gave a rave review to the Cleveland Clinic and promised, “I’m going to work twice as hard as I ever have — it’s a miracle!”

OLIVER STONE RETURNED TO CUBA to shoot segs for his updated “Persona Non Grata” for HBO. He is now in Cannes for Wednesday’s Lecon de Cinema master class on filmmaking. Stone spent 20 more hours with Fidel Castro in his three-day return taping, following last fall’s sessions. Interview subjects now include 29 dissidents. Following Cannes, Stone will remain in France, planning the start of his “Alexander the Great” . . . Robert Stack’s voice was heard again Friday as the B’way-bound “Little Shop of Horrors” made its bow in Coral Gables, Fla. Back on April 14, I reported Stack told me he recorded, “as a voice not unlike God,” for the opening of the play directed by Connie Grappo. At that time Stack said he’d recovered successfully after 57 radiation treatments for prostate cancer. “Little Shop” bows Aug. 14 at the Beacon, starring Alice Ripley as Audrey and Hunter Foster as Seymour. Saturday’s 50th-anniversary Boomtown show by SHARE was dedicated to Stack, whose wife, Rosemarie, is a longtime member. He also appeared many times along with the male stars who helped make the femmes’ event unique. And this year, as usual, it was the SHARE ladies who brought that SRO Santa Monica Civic audience to its feet after several of its intricately choreographed numbers — including the finale on high ropes, swings, etc. SHARE president Joni Berry proudly announced that the group has raised $38 million for charities during these 50 years. The men who added to the Gary Smith-produced show included Little Richard, Red Buttons, Jeff Ross and Michael Buble, plus Ian Fraser and his orch. Larry Gelbart received the Shining Spirit Award.

CATHERINE ZETA-JONES left baby daughter Carys (born April 20) home in Bermuda and joined Michael Douglas in Las Vegas to help the “Michael Douglas and Friends” MPTFund Golf classic at Caesars Cascata Golf Course, raising $500,000 for the fund. She teed off the first ball for the TV’er to air July 20 on ABC. Haley Joel Osment didn’t hit a hole-in-one for the $1 million offered by Lexus, but he did hit his shot closest (nine inches) to the hole, which qualified him to get free use of a Lexus for a year. Only problem: Haley is 15 — too young to get a driver’s license. Fore! . . . Zeta-Jones lingered to join Michael and the Douglas family at Monday night’s preem of WB’s “The In-Laws.” . . . Arthur Hiller has the distinction of having two of his films remade: “The In-Laws” (starring Peter Falk and Alan Arkin, 1979) and “The Out-of-Towners,” originally with Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis, 1970 (followed in 1999 by Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn) . . . Melrose Avenue is a street in Hollywood to avoid tonight, as Par hosts a drive-in preem of “The Italian Job” on the lot in front of its giant sky screen with an audience in wall-to-wall Minis. The cars are arriving from all over the U.S. — including a Mini limousine, Mini convertible and Mini van.

CALIFORNIA’S FAMED Jr. Philharmonic Orchestra made its last appearances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Thursday It will move next year to the Disney Hall, which means the number of (free) attendees will also have to decline. At this grand finale concert at the Music Center, a film was shown of founder, Dr. Ernst Katz, at the White House where he received the President’s Community Volunteer Award from George W. Bush. The amazing Dr. Katz has never missed a rehearsal or concert in all these 66 years. This year’s event also included Michael York in an emotional “Camelot” narration, backed by the 125-piece orchestra. Celebs who helped make the evening even more glamorous included Connie Stevens and Wink Martindale. And to make it humorous, “Celebrity Battle of the Batons” with (winner) Norm Crosby, Alan Young, Elliott Gould, Phyllis Diller, Keiko Agena plus Jack Carter. Yours truly hosted the “Battle.” . . . While waiting for Hollywood to buy the rights for the film of Matthew Pearl’s “The Dante Club,” the novel will first evolve into a play to bow the 2003 season for the California Repertory Company, Sept. 26 in Long Beach . . . Today, Pauline and Ken Annakin are off to London where May 23 at Buckingham Palace, he will receive his OBE from the Queen. P.S. he’ll also continue his casting while there for “Red Wing,” his dramatic love story of what really happened to Amelia Earhart.