Bette Midler

HOLLYWOOD — As Chris Pine waits to film the third “Star Trek” movie, due out in 2016, he’s taking on another franchise. He’ll be Jack Ryan in the $80 million “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” being directed by Kenneth Branagh. Pine has big shoes to fill. Alec Baldwin played Jack Ryan in 1990’s “The Hunt for the Red October” (gross $200 million); in 1992 and 1994, Harrison Ford did “Patriot Games” (gross $178 million) and “A Clear and Present Danger” (gross $300 million); and in 2002, Ben Afflick played Ryan in “The Sum of All Fears” (gross $194 million). This “Recruit” has a lot to live up to.
* * *
NBC must be having deja vu replacing Jay Leno as host of “The Tonight Show” again. Jimmy Fallon, who replaced Conan O’Brien on “Late Night” five years ago when NBC fired Leno, only to bring him back, debuts Feb. 17. Jay is mum, but rumors persist he’s being wooed by other networks like CNN, which is making NBC lose sleep again!
* * *
Jerry Weintraub, who produced the Liberace biopic “Behind the Candelabra” for HBO, will next do the same for Mae West. Director William Friedkin, who won an Oscar for “The French Connection” and a Golden Globe for “The Exorcist,” will have Bette Midler as Mae West. Harvey Fierstein who wrote “Torch Song Trilogy,” “La Cage Aux Folles” and “Kinky Boots,” based his screenplay on Mae’s book “Goodness Has Nothing to Do With It.”

In 1970, at 77, Mae personally interviewed men to play opposite her in “Myra Breckinridge.” One of those men was an unknown, out-of-work actor named Tom Selleck. In 1978, at 85, Mae starred in “Sextette” opposite the soon-to-be James Bond, Timothy Dalton. Because she had trouble hearing, she wore a hearing aid that fed her lines. A news helicopter interfered with her reception, causing her to give the traffic report instead of her lines.

In 1969, critics said Barbra Streisand did Mae West when she played Dolly Levi in “Hello Dolly.” The following year brought “Dinah East,” in which Jeremy Stockwell played a 1950s movie queen who was actually a man. In 1982, Ann Gillian played Mae West in a TV biopic bearing her name.

I once saw Mae sitting in her limo at a gas station off Sunset Boulevard. She said she wanted her fans to see her so they could grow old together. She passed away in 1980 at 87, but her one-liners live on: “When women go wrong, men go right after them”; “A man in the house is worth two in the street”; and “If I make it hard for you will you hold it against me? And hurry!”

© 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.