Flicker of Hope: Though it generated no interest six months ago, "Blaze of Glory"--a Joe Eszterhas spec script about the friendship between soul legend Otis Redding and his manager, Phil Walden, during the 1960s--has been bought by Universal Pictures. The studio offered the screenwriter ("Basic Instinct," "Showgirls," "Jade") $1 million upfront against $2.25 million if the movie gets made. The breakthrough, Eszterhas said, came when his agent, William Morris' Arnold Rifkin, sent the script to director Jon Avnet ("Fried Green Tomatoes") who committed to produce the film along with his partner Jordan Kerner and Ben Myron. "The movie posits the possibility of brotherhood between a black man and a white man--building bridges between the races--which is especially relevant now," said the writer.
Tres Bon, Pablo: Steve Martin's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," recently a long-running hit at the Westwood Playhouse, drew friendly reviews in New York on Monday. The New York Times' Vincent Canby found a "very engaging 75-minute shaggy dog of a comedy" that mixes "commonplace gags" with "moments of real humor and wit." Newsday's Linda Winer Bernheimer hailed the play as "a major treat" and Martin as "the most exciting new playwright in town," noting that "he lives in Los Angeles, an upsetting unlikelihood in some circles." The New York Post found the play "very funny" but "perhaps too clever for its own good" and the production "only moderately good." The Daily News found the play "consistently entertaining."
Botero on Display: The cartoonish monumental sculptures of Colombian Fernando Botero, which drew stares from crowds on Park Avenue in New York two years ago, will likely be stopping traffic again, this time on Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills. On Nov. 2, the City of Beverly Hills will launch an outdoor exhibition of 15 works, some more than 12 feet tall, courtesy of New York's Marlborough Gallery. Both admired and abhorred by art critics, Botero has been a major figure in Latin American art since the 1950s. The show runs through Jan. 31.
Inked for the Decade: Conductor Daniel Barenboim, music director of the Chicago Symphony, has signed a three-year contract with the orchestra extending his service in Chicago through the 1999-2000 season. Now celebrating 25 years since his debut as guest conductor with the orchestra, Barenboim said, "A quarter of a century of collaboration may seem like a long time, but to me, it continues to feel like a beginning."
Bill T. Jones to Speak: Choreographer Bill T. Jones will read from his autobiography, "Last Night on Earth," and be interviewed by University of California students Sunday in a program from 4-6 p.m. at UCLA's new Department of World Arts and Cultures. The event in the Dance Building is free; parking is $5 in Lot 4 at Sunset and Westwood boulevards. Caution: No elevator access.
Dogg's World: Long Beach rapper Nathaniel (Nate Dogg) Hale, a Death Row recording artist who has appeared on controversial hit albums by Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg, will perform at a family gospel concert at St. Luke's Holy Baptist Church in Long Beach on Sunday. Nate Dogg's appearance at the church comes just two days before the release of Tha Dogg Pound's "Dogg Food" album, a hard-core rap record on which he is a featured soloist. The explicit lyrics on the album, which is to be released by Death Row Records, triggered a controversy last summer that eventually led Time Warner to sever ties with Death Row's distributor, Interscope Records.
Services for Singer: Blind Melon singer Shannon Hoon, who was found dead Saturday in New Orleans, will be buried during a private ceremony Wednesday in his hometown of Lafayette, Ind. At the request of the family, any donations should be made to an educational fund for Hoon's baby daughter, Nico Blue. Address: Nico Blue Hoon c/o Shapiro & Co., 9229 Sunset Blvd., Suite 607, Los Angeles, 90069.
Actor Dennis Weaver and his wife, Gerry, celebrated a rare Hollywood milestone on Saturday--their 50th wedding anniversary--in Ridgway, Colo. . . . Johnny Carson turned 70 Monday and planned to spend his birthday quietly, apparently at home in Malibu. One exception: a long-distance call from former "Tonight Show" bandleader Doc Severinsen with a telephonic serenade from his band, now on tour in the Midwest. . . . Veteran Academy Awards show producer Gilbert Cates notified the academy and ABC Television that he wants to take at least a year off from producing the show. An academy spokesman said finding a replacement for Cates is expected to take some time.