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The Insider

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Alyssa Milano is about to become a bad girl—on Fox-TV’s Melrose Place. The onetime costar of Who’s the Boss? will start work on the revamped MP in February, playing Jennifer Mancini, the devious kid sister of Dr. Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro). Milano’s first episodes are expected to air in March….

Frank Sinatra, who last week quietly celebrated his 81st birthday at home in Beverly Hills, continues improving from the mild heart attack, pneumonia and pinched nerve that kept him hospitalized for a week in November. Friends of the singer report that while he no longer smokes cigarettes inside his house, Sinatra is back to his pre-hospital routine of puffing away on his patio. Sinatra, by the way, stopped drinking hard liquor over a year ago, but still sips the occasional wine or beer with dinner….

Jonathan Frakes is a wanted man—as a director. Ever since his debut feature First Contact, the latest Star Trek film, opened last month to big box office and good reviews, the actor has been inundated with offers to direct again—and not just sci-fi movies. He received a little over $300,000 for directing Contact, but also played Cmdr. William Riker, which brought his total paycheck to around $1 million. Frakes hasn’t made up his mind what he’ll direct next, but it’s a safe bet he’s in for a big raise….

Hey, hey, Mrs. Robinson, do you know what’s happened to your song, the one sung by Simon and Garfunkel on the soundtrack to The Graduate? In Mother, a comedy with Albert Brooks and Debbie Reynolds that’s due on Christmas Day, the opening notes of “Mrs. Robinson” are heard as Brooks’s character drives from L.A. to suburban San Francisco to move in with his mother (Reynolds). Soon, singers Jess Harnell and Steve Lively are warbling new Mother-appropriate lyrics (“And here’s to you, Mrs. Henderson/ Your grown son is moving back today, hey, hey, hey”). And it was all OK’d by songwriter Paul Simon. Brooks, who wrote and directed Mother, got Simon’s permission before he and co-screenwriter Monica Johnson dashed off the new lyrics….

The buzz on Madonna‘s performance in the new musical Evita (see review on page 17) is so strong that her asking price per picture has jumped to between $5 and $6 million. That’s what I hear handlers for Madonna, whose movie career until now has been largely vilified by critics, want from New Line Cinema to star in Ginger, a lighthearted, Harveyish tale about a man who thinks a bear is a beautiful woman. According to sources, Sharon Stone had been considering the project and even worked on the script. But she dropped out when New Line rejected her version. The studio now wants Madonna, but her price may be too high for the picture’s budget….

Sylvester Stallone’s The disaster film Daylight may have been set in a fictitious underwater tunnel linking New York City and New Jersey, but the “Manhattan Tunnel” scenes were actually filmed at the Cinecitta Studios in Rome. Nonetheless, the New York Port Authority, which oversees the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, continues to be flooded with calls from journalists who want to know more about the tunnel explosion scenes and how they may have affected traffic during the film’s production last fall and winter. According to Port Authority spokeswoman Terry Benczik, the most outlandish call came from a reporter with a Japanese magazine who requested Holland Tunnel blueprints so he could show his readers in Japan precisely where Stallone and the others were trapped.