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Douglas says he still feels 'frisky'

"The 61st Annual Golden Globe Awards" 7 tonight Channel 11 (arrivals); show at 8

MICHAEL Douglas admits it's been a little cold and windy in Bermuda, where he and wife Catherine Zeta Jones spend a lot of their time with their two small children.

So he's looking forward to the better weather in Los Angeles -- and a chance to catch up with a few friends.

Oh, and the son of Kirk Douglas also will be the first person in the history of the Golden Globes to be a second-generation recipient of the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille honor from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for his "outstanding contribution to the entertainment field."

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2/15/2004

"I guess this means more Grecian Formula in the hair," joked Douglas, who turns 60 later this year, during a phone call last week with reporters. "It's a lovely honor. On the other side, you're never quite ready for (the lifetime achievement awards). It's like putting you out to pasture at a time when you are feeling pretty frisky."

Started on 'Streets'

It's hard to believe that his career has spanned 30 years, including an early stint from 1972-76 on the TV series "The Streets of San Francisco."

Douglas says in those days the network guaranteed 26 hours right at the beginning. These days, a television series can air just one episode, and a full season is generally about 22 episodes.

On the first day of filming the 1970s cop show, Douglas and co-star Karl Malden were on top of Telegraph Hill. The scene called for Malden to put the "gumball" light on top of the car as Douglas gunned the engine and flew around the corner.

But Douglas didn't mark the route beforehand and before he could stop, the two were flying down the hill.

"We went airborne, and I had time enough in the air to turn and look at Karl before we hit the ground," Douglas says. "I thought it was the end of my career right there."

Early success as producer

In fact, it was the beginning of his career as a successful producer. Near the end of his tenure on "Streets," Douglas was branching out as an independent film producer. He hit it big the first time out with his 1975 Academy Award-winning film, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," a play he purchased from his father.

"I spent a lot of that year driving back and forth across the Bay Bridge going to Fantasy Records in Berkeley," Douglas recalls. "My partner in the film, Saul Zaentz, owned Fantasy and I would drive back and forth from work, conferring with Saul on the picture."

Douglas says he has made a lot of films in the Bay Area, including "The Game" and "Basic

Instinct," and has enjoyed working here.

In the course of his career, Douglas has earned several Golden Globes, Oscars and other awards, which should make him feel as if he's stepped a bit out of the shadow of his famous father.

"I'm beginning to appreciate (being his son) more. I spend a large part of my life getting out of shadow of my father, but I can't because he is extraordinary," Douglas says. "He's finishing his 10th novel, he's been in about 110 movies, he's amazing. There's been a certain amount of continuity, however. It's ironic how similar our careers have been in producing as well as acting. We both started as the sensitive young men, then went on to the rogue roles."

Douglas reflected on the set-backs in his father's life recently.

"The things he's dealt with, the helicopter crash, his stroke, pacemakers and a lot has been written about him rediscovering his spiritual roots," Douglas says. "He's been an inspiration for me. He grows when others at his age are withering."

Kirk Douglas, 87, won the DeMille award in 1968, but his ill health will force him to miss seeing his son follow in his footsteps.

Back when the elder Douglas won the award, the Golden Globes were not exactly known as prestigious. It was more party, less respect.

So is it less fun now that the awards have become more respectable?

"Well, you can still drink at the table, and there's a lot to be said for that," Douglas says with a chuckle. "I think it reflects favorably with the other awards. And it's one of the few where television and film are together."

Douglas says it's also a good time to see friends.

"People live all over the place now and as close as you get in a film or a television series, once it is over you often don't get a chance to see them again," Douglas says. "It will be great to give Marty Sheen a hug, see Kiefer Sutherland again. It's a joy. And (unlike the Oscars), there's not this elitist attitude between film and television. I look back on my TV experiences with warmth and pride."

If you have any questions about TV, you can reach columnist Susan Young by calling (925) 416-4820, e-mail at syoung@angnewspapers.com, or fax at (925) 416-4874.

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