A Hipper Flash Gordon?: In one of the first big movie deals under his new independent production label at Sony Pictures Entertainment, the company's former chairman, Peter Guber, plans to bring comic book space hero Flash Gordon back to the big screen in a hip '90s version. Guber has optioned the movie rights for a low six-figures from Hearst Entertainment-owned King Features and Sony will finance and distribute the movie. Guber said he envisions a grittier tale than the campy 1980 box-office dud "Flash Gordon," which starred Sam J. Jones. Buster Crabbe starred as Flash in a number of serial films made in the 1930s and '40s. On Guber's movie, the producers are Ben Myron, David Helpern and Hearst executive Rick Karo.
Added Duties: "Today" host Bryant Gumbel is adding a cable sports magazine show, "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel," to his docket. The HBO program, which includes former KCBS Channel 2 anchor Jim Lampley as senior correspondent, will premiere in April as a series of quarterly one-hour specials, with each special including a sports-related personality profile, human interest story and investigative piece. Each show will close with an "Extra Point" segment hosted by a sports journalist, prominent athlete or celebrity. Gumbel, who has anchored NBC's "Today" for more than 13 years, began his career as a sportscaster at KNBC Channel 4 before joining NBC Sports in 1975.
Trekker Monument: The new United Paramount Network on Wednesday unveiled a 24,000-square-foot canvas mural depicting the ship from the network's new "Star Trek: Voyager" slicing through space. The 12-story mural, by Los Angeles artist Mike McNeilly, will hang on an office building at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue for several months before touring other U.S. cities. It will ultimately be auctioned for charity, with the proceeds split between the Starlight Foundation and Ronald McDonald Children's Charities.
Musicals Galore: The new Tommy Tune-starring vehicle "Busker Alley," with music and lyrics by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman ("Mary Poppins"), will kick off the Orange County Performing Arts Center's 1995-96 musical lineup with a June 27-July 2 run. The season will continue with the new Leslie Bricusse/Frank Wildhorn musical "Jekyll and Hyde" (Aug. 29-Sept. 3), "West Side Story" (Oct. 24-29), Jerry Lewis in Jack O'Brien's staging of "Damn Yankees" (Dec. 5-10), Chita Rivera in "Kiss of the Spider Woman" (Dec. 26-31) and the Pointer Sisters in "Ain't Misbehavin' " (May 14-19).
Pop Chart: Garth Brooks is back in the saddle at No. 1 on the nation's pop chart after his "Hits" album sold about 153,000 copies last week. That was enough to unseat Van Halen's "Balance," which slips to No. 2 after selling an estimated 150,000 units. The rest of the Top 5: Boyz II Men's "II" (126,000), Green Day's "Dookie" (118,000) and the Eagles' "Hell Freezes Over" (96,000).
Improv owners Budd Friedman and Mark Lonow are searching for new talent to write and perform on "The Interactive Improv," a comedy CD-ROM planned for release in 1996. The project, from Philips Home Media and Family Entertainment, will feature rising comedians and celebrity cameos. . . . Child actress Margaret O'Brien ("Babes on Broadway," "Meet Me in St. Louis"), who received the 1944 Academy Award for outstanding child actress, on Tuesday had her Oscar returned by two men who bought the statuette at a Pasadena swap meet. O'Brien said the award had been stolen in the 1950s. . . . The city of Jerusalem, hoping to boost its reputation as an international cultural center, will host its first international conductors' competition in October in memory of the late American composer Leonard Bernstein. . . . Comedian Shelly Berman performs at Melrose Avenue's Improvisation at 8:30 tonight to record a new live comedy CD.
Kudos: TV newsman David Brinkley and actress Mary Tyler Moore will be honored in New York tonight by the Museum of Television & Radio. Tom Brokaw, Sam Donaldson, Ed Asner, Bill Cosby and Dick Van Dyke are among those scheduled to take part in the tributes. . . . Jazz saxophonist, composer and arranger Benny Carter gets star No. 2,042 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today. Dedication ceremonies take place at 11:30 a.m. at 7080 Hollywood Blvd. . . . Actor Leslie Nielsen will receive UCLA's 18th annual Jack Benny Award for comedy today. Previous recipients include Johnny Carson, Steve Martin and George Burns. . . . "Dateline NBC" anchor Jane Pauley received the Communicator of the Year Award in Washington on Wednesday from the National Forensic League, the nation's oldest and largest honorary speech society.