CBS IS working on six-hour prequel to the classic “Lonesome Dove,” written by Larry McMurtry. Titled “Comanche Moon,” Australian director Simon Wincer will return to direct, and CBS has tapped Steve Zahn to play the young Robert Duvall role. They have also added Linda Cardellini (who had a brief appearance in “Brokeback Mountain”) as the youthful Anjelica Huston. The all-important role assayed by Tommy Lee Jones probably has talent scouts searching bars from Wyoming to Texas looking for a grizzled but baby-faced Tommy Lee. There will be two brand-new characters as well — played by Val Kilmer and Rachel Griffiths. McMurtry and Diana Ossana will produce.
JAMES EARL Jones is heading back to the boards in a new play, “Thurgood,” based on the life of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice. Producer George Stevens Jr., of Kennedy Center Honors and AFI fame, wrote the play. “Thurgood” opens in a limited engagement April 30 at the Westport Country Playhouse. … Before Hugh Jackman does “Pal Joey,” he will tour Australia for 60 performances of “The Boy From Oz.” … Debi Mazar gave birth on Friday to her second daughter. Giulia Isabella Mazar-Corcos entered the word at 8 pounds, 1 ounce.
SIRIO MACCIONI is now opening his third version of his famous Le Cirque restaurant in the Bloomberg Building on May 30. There’ll be a huge kick-off party on May 18 and New York will seem normal again. … The Jet Set, or whatever you want to call the rich and upscale, will be enthralled to learn that their pet cafe, Cipriani in the Sherry Netherlands Hotel, is coming back. … Rumors are floating that Michael Jackson recently collaborated in Bahrain with singer/songwriter John Legend. … MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough recently did a segment on celebrity sex tapes. He promoted the piece saying, “These days, some artists — no, some sluts make their careers with this.” As he spoke, images of Paris Hilton flashed onscreen. Scarborough laughed, “Oh, no I didn’t mean Paris Hilton is a… No, no … I didn’t mean that. Hahhaha!”
I OFTEN ask, and quite aggressively, why the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences refuses to give Doris Day a lifetime achievement Oscar? Perhaps the answer came to me from a learned film writer. He told me that a number of years ago the Academy was ready to honor Day. But when the legendary actress and famous semi-recluse got wind of the plan, she said, “Lovely gesture guys, but send it to me in Carmel because I won’t show up to receive it!” That put the kibosh on that. Could be true? They gave Garbo an honorary Oscar and she sure as hell didn’t appear at the ceremony. Now we have fans writing in begging us to persuade the Academy to honor Richard Widmark. (He made his initial impact as the super-villain who pushed an old lady in a wheelchair down a flight of stars to her death, in the classic 1947 noir, “Kiss of Death.” He laughed as he did it.)
JOY BEHAR paid tribute to Gotham’s mayor at a recent party with “Top 10 Things We Like About Michael Bloomberg.”
10. Much better looking than Koch and Giuliani.
9. Can afford to travel by helicopter, but takes the subway.
8. Dresses better than most gay men we know.
7. Doesn’t refer to himself in the third person like Regis.
6. When he goes out on 72nd Street, taxis hail him.
5. Has his own hair and hasn’t grown a monster pompadour like some other billionaires we know.
4. Never jumped on a couch and professed his love for Katie Holmes.
3. Going out with a younger, beautiful woman not named Soon Yi.
2. Married Barbara Walters on “The View,” even after Star Jones begged him to pick her.
1. After he won the last mayoral election in a landslide, he didn’t run through the streets yelling, “They like me. They like me.”
WE ARE GOING to surely miss that giant of photography and goodwill, Gordon Parks, when the New York Landmarks Conservancy gets together at Cipriani 42 Street on Oct. 31. Gordon’s death is a true loss to the arts. But we have just added Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller to our high-powered “Living Landmark” lists, which this fall will also include Norris and Norman Mailer, Meredith and Tom Brokaw, Matilde and Mario Cuomo and Howard Rubenstein for investiture. … I see Aretha Franklin hasn’t lost her way with words. My colleague Lloyd Grove was on the receiving end of a Franklin missive, “correcting” him. I treasure a telegram the queen of soul sent me years ago. I had — gently and with humor, I thought — suggested that perhaps the singer was a tad too zaftig for the strapless gowns she adored. Wrong move. I was told in no uncertain terms that I was no fashion expert, “I’ve seen the way YOU dress!” And furthermore: “At least I have something to put into a strapless gown!” As much as I loved Aretha’s talent, I loved her up-front defense of herself even more. Long may she roar.