NEWS FROM FROSTBITE FALLS Now, here’s something we hope you’ll really like. Urged on by the success of George of the Jungle ($105 million at the box office), Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Productions is gearing up for a big-screen feature about another Jay Ward cartoon creation: Rocky and Bullwinkle. According to Tribeca president Jane Rosenthal, the film will meld live action and animation. Think Who Framed Roger Rabbit meets Austin Powers. ”The Cold War is over, and ex-spies Boris and Natasha come to this country to [control the public through] TV,” says Rosenthal. The devious plot forces moose and squirrel out of retirement, and they’re shocked because ”the world has changed.” While Bullwinkle and Rocky will remain their animated selves, other characters from the series, including Fearless Leader, will be played by live actors. No casting decisions yet, but Rosenthal’s wish list includes Joe Pesci and Cher as the inept spies. That is, if De Niro doesn’t opt for a part. ”I might want to do a role,” muses the Oscar winner. ”You know, I can do a Russian accent.” Wise guy. – Cindy Pearlman
COMIC-BOOK RELIEF The date: Saturday, Jan. 10. The place: The Warner Bros. Studio Store in Manhattan. The scene: An open audition – one of four held nationwide – to cast a new Wonder Woman for a potential new NBC series. The story: At least 150 Amazon princess wannabes showed up – some in homemade red-white-and-blue costumes and tinfoil wristbands – to vie for the role Lynda Carter made famous. ”She’s a classic,” said hopeful Jen James, 23. ”She’s strong, beautiful, and sexy.” Others agreed. ”Women are stronger than they’ve ever been,” said Diane White, 24. ”It’s the perfect time to bring her back.” But at least one actress had a more sentimental reason for want- ing to resurrect the all-American superheroine. ”I always wanted Wonder Woman Underoos,” said Azar Burnham, 33. ”Maybe now I’ll get my chance.” – Shawna Malcom
MURDER, THEY WROTE Hollywood heavies, beware. The folks at CBS’ Diagnosis Murder are on a rampage. Earlier this season, Murder scribes killed off a network exec who was a dead ringer for ABC Entertainment president Jamie Tarses. Next on the executioners’ list: Kathie Lee Gifford. They’ve even recruited costar Regis Philbin to do the deed. In a Feb. 26 episode featuring the talk-show duo, Dick Van Dyke’s Dr. Sloan is called into sleuthing action after someone on the set of Live With Darren and Mary! loads a prop pistol with real bullets. ”Regis pulls out a gun and says, ‘Hug this,’ and shoots Kathie Lee twice, basically fulfilling the dreams of millions of Americans,” jokes Murder exec producer Lee Goldberg. Gosh, now that America’s sweetheart has taken a bullet, who bites it next? ”Actually, we’re killing William Christopher [a.k.a. Father Mulcahy] from M*A*S*H on Jan. 22, and I think that’s enough for one season,” says Goldberg. ”But next season, we’ll see who’s popular and reviled, and murder them, too.” Talk about playing dead.