Before there was a Hollywood -- there really was such a time you know -- movies were made almost exclusively in New York City and environs. One of the largest filmmaking facilities was the Astoria Studios in Queens (D.W. Griffith and the Marx Brothers made films there). Now the film complex, in the heart of the Greek section of New York, is the object of a $50-million restoration project. Among the investors are some names you might recognize: Johnny Carson, Alan King, Neil Simon and James Nederlander. The developer also has a familiar show biz name: George S. Kaufman . . . no relation to the notorious wit . . .
* Notes From Abroad: Theatrical mastermind Peter Brook is staging his version of George Bizet's "Carmen" in his warehouse theater, Bouffes du Nord, in Paris. If you know Brook's reputation you know "his version" is bound to be unique. The Opera runs a mere 80 minutes and the orchestra is comprised of only 15 players, there is no chorus, and the last two pages of Bizet's score are dropped altogether . . . If you are a Peter O'Toole fan, and if you are in London Thursday, the leather tunic he wore in his controversial production of Macbeth at the Old Vic will be auctioned at Christie's . . .
* She may be "The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A:" Donna Fargo, country music star who was stricken with multiple sclerosis in 1978, is wrapping up recording sessions for her new album . . .