Art Buchwald, call your lawyer again. "Coming to America," the hit Eddie Murphy film, is on its way to CBS this spring as a weekly series (Columnist Buchwald is suing Paramount Pictures for allegedly misappropriating for its movie a story that he had written). Murphy will serve as executive producer and may make a cameo appearance in the pilot episode, according to Mark McClafferty, president of Eddie Murphy Television Productions.
The story will focus on a younger sibling of Murphy's movie character - Murphy played an African prince searching for the ideal bride in New York. McClafferty declined to specify how many episodes CBS ordered. He said that casting is under way and that Arsenio Hall, who co-starred in the film, would not be involved in the series.Murphy might direct and script some episodes, McClafferty added.
"It (the TV show) will have the feel and comic quality of the film," McClafferty said, "but the series will definitely take the film's concept into a different time and different place." - MARC SHAPIRO
-Take a Letter, Please:
HOLLYWOOD - How many studio executives does it take to screw in a light bulb? Well, OK, we don't know the answer to that one. But we do know that no fewer than 21 executives, agents, publicists and other assorted retainers were advised the other day when a couple of "Rain Man" publicity photos of Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise were mailed to media types.
See, we came across this one-paragraph United Artists letter, concerning some B&W shots of the two stars. At the bottom were 21 names of folks who were sent copies. . . . The list was longer than the text of the letter itself!
Are you ready?
Andrea Jaffe, the film's publicist and Cruise's personal publicist; Barry Levinson, director; Mark Johnson, producer; Peggy Siegal, Levinson's publicist; Marion Billings, Jaffe associate; Hoffman; Cruise.
Others (still with us?): Bert Fields, Hoffman's attorney; Peter Guber, co-producer; the Guber-Peters-Barris company; Greg Morrison, president, MGM worldwide marketing; Barry Lorie, senior vice president, MGM worldwide marketing; Gordon Weaver, president, the Weaver Co., which worked on the marketing campaign; Brenda Farrier, a Weaver assistant; Allan Freeman, UA marketing president; Judy Schwam, UA senior vice president, worldwide publicity & promotion; Barbara George, UA director of creative advertising.
Also: Mike Ovitz, Creative Artists Agency chief, who packaged the picture; and CAA's Paula Wagner, Sandy Climan and Jay Moloney.
Given the cost of postage stamps, it is no wonder that UA recently folded its film-making operations amid financial woes! - PAT H. BROESKE
-A Rash of Ritter:
HOLLYWOOD - Ever seen those late-night cable TV programs that masquerade as talk shows but are really advertisements for baldness remedies and real estate correspondence courses? Then you also know how most are hosted by actors whose careers have seen better days - like Robert Vaughn and Lyle Waggoner.
So what is John Ritter, the still-hot star of ABC's "Hooperman," doing pushing a videotape that promises to help high school and college students get better grades? The product is called Where There's a Will, There's an A - and Ritter's pitches are on the air ad nauseum.
"We didn't realize it was going to be on everywhere," sighed Bob Myman, Ritter's lawyer and "Hooperman" executive producer. "I guess we envisioned it was going to be on in another country or something."
During the half-hour spot - Ritter's first commercial - he speaks to the audience and interviews a professor who made the videotape. Myman said Ritter thought it was "a quality product" that would help kids. Now, Myman concedes, the actor is a bit embarrassed by it.
"If we had known it was going to play so heavily, I wouldn't have let him do it," Myman said.
"But remember that Michael Landon sold a water filter!" - NIKKI FINKE
HOLLYWOOD - Richard Dreyfuss will play legendary Broadway producer Jed Harris in "Curse of Genius." Oscar-winner Frederic Raphael ("Darling") wrote the screenplay for producer Joel Silver to shoot late summer '89. . . . Ciao, Federico! Maestro Fellini is back behind the cameras with "Voices from the Moon," filming next month at Empire Studios in Rome for producers Mario and Vittorio Cecchi Gori. The loony tale concerns two men recently released from an asylum literally and metaphorically searching for the title heavenly orb. Robert Benigni ("Down by Law") co-stars with Italian comic Paolo Villaggio.
Robert Ginty hyphenates in TWE's social thriller "The Orange Curtain," filming in Los Angeles in January. Ginty stars as a Catholic priest who discovers he has a teen-age daughter from his tour of duty in Vietnam - also directs, produces and co-wrote the screenplay with C. Courtney Joyner. Haing Ngor, Vietnamese actress Kieu Chinh and John Pleshette round out the cast. . . . Woody watching: add Alan Alda, Daryl Hannah (but not her sisters), Martin Landau, Tony Roberts and Sam Waterston to the cast of the currently filming "Woody Allen Untitled" for Orion. Alda plays a movie producer, Woody is a documentary film maker and Mia Farrow is featured as a social worker in what is described as a comedy about contemporary New York Jewish Angst. . . . Rebecca Miller, currently filming Hemdale's "The Artisan" opposite Klaus Maria Brandauer, is novelist Henry Miller's daughter.