Not surprisingly, The China Syndrome’s weekly grosses climbed the week after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident—but the studio went out of its way to play down the coincidence. While producer-actor Michael Douglas postponed a Tonight Show appearance, co-star Jack Lemmon withdrew from a CBS nuclear energy special. “I just didn’t want to go on national television and talk about a movie when a real live situation—a potentially killing situation—was still to be resolved,” explains Douglas, “and Jack felt the same.” Unstoppable crusader Jane Fonda did call an antinuclear news conference, but steered her comments away from the movie.
If You Have to Ask
Only a few weeks ago Saudi King Khalid had one of the proudest ships-of-the-desert in the 180-foot motor yacht Al Riyadh. He was left in the wake last month when his own brother, Crown Prince Fahd, paid some $40 million to Greek tycoon Stavros Niarchos for the 379-foot Atlantis, the largest privately owned yacht in the world. (Amenities include a heated pool, 12 guest staterooms, a theater, a sauna and an 82.5-cubic-meter fridge.) Now it seems that even the Atlantis will pale in comparison to the $45 million Nabila being built for Saudi arms dealer Adnan Kashoggi. The boat will include a complete hospital and communications system—and, it is to be hoped, some internal improvements over an earlier Kashoggi yacht, the Mohamedia. That one caught fire and burned after firemen discovered they couldn’t break through the bulletproof doors.
Almost a year ago Mikhail Baryshnikov gave up star billing and an estimated $3,000 to $5,000 a performance at the American Ballet Theater to work for $750 a week at the egalitarian New York City Ballet—largely in hopes of having a work created for him by famed choreographer George Balanchine. Now Misha is said to have grown increasingly disillusioned with NYCB—not only because the master has yet to choreograph an original work, but because Balanchine added insult to inaction by creating Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, which premiered last week, for Baryshnikov’s rival, Rudi Nureyev. Baryshnikov, already a defector from ABT and Russia’s Kirov Ballet, could leap again if the situation doesn’t improve.
Ten Years After
Barney Miller gumshoe Hal Linden, 48, keeps telling himself that the 20 years it took to hit big were necessary to put stardom in perspective—but he’s not completely convinced. “I honestly wouldn’t have minded success in 10 years,” says Linden ingenuously. “I think I would have been equally as nice a guy.”
Bark and Bite
If a lot of politicos showed up for artist Emilie “Muška” Benes’ opening last week at a Washington gallery, it may not only have been because of their appreciation of the sculptured acrylic tree-trunks that are her specialty. Enclosed in dozens of official invitations was a handwritten note from her husband which read, “Hope you can make it to Muška’s show—Zbig.” That, of course, would be National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who also told associates that attendance wasn’t mandatory, but names would be taken. He said he was joking.
•Asked by a quivering female fan if he considers himself a major sex symbol, Chevy Chase modestly demurred, “No, actually a sergeant.”
•According to CBS’ proxy statement, TV’s real six million dollar man isn’t Lee Majors but company chairman William Paley: That’s roughly the sum he earned last year in salary and stock dividends from the conglomerate he began molding 51 years ago.
•Comedian Steve Martin can be a wild and extravagant guy. After he and personal manager Bill McEuen lured his agent, Marty Klein, to an L.A. hotel to listen to his new record, Martin revealed the session was a ruse. Then he gave Klein the keys to a new $80,000 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow—and the car that goes with them—as a 31st-birthday present.