Joanna Carson has inked a deal with Warner Books to write her autobiography. But the wealthy divorcee apparently will not use the book to get back at ex-hubby Johnny Carson for all those barbed divorce-and-alimony comments on "The Tonight Show."
Producer-manager Michael Viner, who set the book deal, acknowledged that it will cover the 11 years - 1972 to 1983 - that Joanna was married to Carson, as well as their acrimonious divorce. But that will not be the focus, he said."It is not a `Mommie Dearest,' not in any way a `tell-all' book," Viner said. "It's an autobiography covering her whole life ... the story of a woman who scraped by all her life, who suddenly finds herself married to the king of Hollywood."
(Joanna is simultaneously working on a Warner Books novel, "Glass Houses," due out next year, and the untitled autobiography, which has no deadline.)
Joanna "won't comment" on any of this, Viner added. "The last thing she wants to do is get involved in any controversy having to do with Johnny Carson."
Meanwhile, Carson reportedly gets the tough treatment in Laurence Leamer's "King of the Night," due from William Morrow this summer. - STACY JENEL SMITH
HOLLYWOOD - "I wasn't dealing with a Phi Beta Kappa."
Danny De Vito - currently directing and starring in "The War of the Roses" - aptly summed up his recent encounter with a thief whose ransom note is now pinned to the wall of De Vito's trailer ("as a kind of a memento").
De Vito said with a laugh: "The note reads - I'll paraphrase - I have news about your (missing) dailies. I can purchase them tonight. I will acquire them. . . . Then, the guy left his beeper number!"
The footage in question was from the first couple days' filming of "War of the Roses," a comedy about a feuding couple headed for divorce, starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner (De Vito plays Douglas' divorce lawyer). After the film was discovered gone, De Vito found the note on the windshield of his rental car in Coupeville, Wash., where principal photography had gotten under way.
"But we still had the negative, so we were OK," said De Vito, adding, "It was kind of like having your child's toy truck kidnapped."
"War of the Roses" - due at Christmas from Fox - is now filming in and around Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the police in Coupeville are on the case.
Deadpanned De Vito: "They've got a beeper number to go on." - NINA J. EASTON and PAT H. BROESKE
-The Beauty Inside:
KATOWICE, Poland - When actress Wendy Gazelle showed up on the Auschwitz set of "Triumph of the Spirit," her thick curly dark hair cascaded past her shoulders ("I'd never had short hair in my life"). Her role as Allegra, a young Greek concentration camp prisoner, changed all that.
Gazelle - love interest of Willem Dafoe, a Greek boxing champ forced by the Nazis to fight - and long-tressed Kelly Wolf, who plays her sister, were among the "prisoners" whose heads were shaved on camera.
Director Robert M. Young helped Gazelle prepare for the humiliating shaving scene the night before by telling the actress, "After this happens, we'll look for you to be beautiful inside.' "
The sequence, calling for the women to be naked, was filmed on a closed set, with "SS women" hacking away at the hair of the prisoners and then shaving them. Gazelle had no trouble summoning up tears.
"Oh, . . ., I couldn't stop crying," she said. "But I tried to think like my character - who's a survivor. I tried to think, `They're taking away a material thing - but they can't take away me.' "
When it was over, Young approached Gazelle with tears in his eyes and said, "I feel like a monster."
Dafoe, Edward James Olmos, Robert Loggia and dozens of male extras suffered similarly.
In a show of solidarity, some non-actors associated with the movie also had their heads shaved - including Dean Pollack, on location filming a "Making of `Triumph of the Spirit' " documentary, and Evan Kopelson, producer of that project and son of "Triumph" producer Arnold Kopelson. - PAT H. BROESKE
-Very, Very Unofficial:
HOLLYWOOD - Universal's "The Dream Team," an Imagine Entertainment comedy about four mental patients left on their own overnight in New York, has gotten some favorable reviews. But while praising its laugh quotient, Daily Variety's Todd McCarthy also criticized it as "a hokey comedy that basically reduces mental illness to a grab bag of quirky shtick . . . the way in which the mentally handicapped characters are used (for yuks) is occasionally off-putting and unsettling."
Co-writer and co-producer Jon Connolly said that he and partner David Loucka pored over case histories and "talked to seven, maybe eight, psychiatrists" for accuracy's sake and to make the film "as real as possible in a comedy context." He named Greenwich, Conn., psychiatrist John Tamerin and noted New York psychologist Albert Ellis as "unofficial consultants."
So they were contacted about the film.
"Jon is a good friend, and I don't want to hurt his movie," said Tamerin, "but clearly, to suggest that this movie is based on psychiatric information - particularly from me - would be utterly preposterous. He mentioned that he was writing this thing, and that was about it. I totally eschew any responsibility."
An assistant of Ellis said that the psychologist did not "have much of a recollection" of speaking to anyone from "Dream Team" - "a lot of people from Hollywood call and talk for a minute or two."
Tamerin called the movie "a farce, a burlesque, a caricature of some extreme kinds of mental illness. The fact that it deals with psychiatry instead of fraternity houses is almost irrelevant. . . . It's like it's from Mars in terms of psychiatric reality." - STACY JENEL SMITH
-Quibbles & Bits:
Just after the Oscars, Orion ran "Mississippi Burning" ads with the bold declaration: "Academy Award Winner." They've since clarified their boast, adding, "Best Cinematographer" - the film's only award.
Some casting agents in Hollywood received notices for a new project titled "Meaningless," by Featureless Productions. The roles: Everyman, Erotica, Wanderer and the Indian. Plot: After Gilligan discovers an old treasure chest stuffed with gems, the Skipper gets more than he bargained for. . . . Date of the casting call: April 1, of course.
-THE MOVIE CHART:
Films now going into production:
FLASHBACK (60-80). Shooting in Colorado. Dennis Hopper, Kiefer Sutherland and Carol Kane star in a contemporary action comedy of a '60s radical (Hopper) entrusted to the care of a young FBI agent (Sutherland). Producers Marvin Worth and David Loughery. Director Franco Amurri. Screenwriter Loughery. Distributor Paramount.
HEAVEN AND EARTH (Kadokawa). Shooting in Japan and Calgary. Based on a novel by Chogoro Kaiongi, this $40 million epic traces the conflict between two young 15th century military leaders - each intending to conquer and rule in Japan. Producers Director Haruki Kadokawa. Screenwriters Toshio Kamata and Isao Yoshihara. Stars Ken Watanabe and Masahiko Tsugawa.
INTERNAL AFFAIRS (Out of Town). Shooting in Los Angeles. Richard Gere and Andy Garcia topline this tale of corruption at the precinct. Garcia is a cop with the task of investigating wrongdoings in the department and, by doing so, attracts contempt all the way through the ranks.
THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (Concorde). Shooting in South California. Patrick MacNee and Tracey Reiner (Rob's daughter) star in this remake of the Poe classic that concerns the fall of a young prince as his kingdom is overcome by the plague.