VIA MCWEENY TWEET - CRAZY WHAT-IFS INVOLVE PAUL WILLIAMS & MARTIN SCORSESE
"Wait," tweeted Drew McWeeny a week ago, "so Brian De Palma and Jay Cocks co-wrote (on spec!!!!) a COLUMBO, the studio bought it for DePalma to direct with Paul Williams co-starring, and when he dropped out to make PHANTOM, Scorsese stepped in, but then Falk decided the script didn't work?! THAT ALMOST HAPPENED!?"
From the responses that followed, it appears that McWeeny had been reading David Koenig's new book, Shooting Columbo. When Kip Stiles tweeted a response about Steven Spielberg having directed an episode, McWeeny responded, "Yeah. He's the one who recommended DePalma to the producers. DePalma was between jobs and liked the show, and he and Jay Cocks had a pitch: what if Truman Capote killed Johnny Carson on live TV?" Which of course brings to mind De Palma's idea, just two or three years earlier, to have Tommy Smothers appear to saw a rabbit in half live on the Johnny Carson show at the end of Get To Know Your Rabbit. (De Palma was fired from that project before he could film such an ending.) The idea resurfaced in 1980, for a potential "comedy" -- Dene at The Story Of Euston Films found the following extract in a Milwaukee Journal profile of De Palma, written by Helen Dudar, and dated April 20, 1980, "a few months before Dressed to Kill was released" --