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Kangaroo Court

Helen Reddy got her comeuppance Down Under recently when she flew to Sydney for a royal command performance. First she referred to herself proudly as a sixth-generation Australian. That didn’t sit well with an opera house audience which recalled that when she took out U.S. citizenship in 1974 the singer intimated that she had outgrown her homeland. The evening did not improve. When presented to Queen Elizabeth backstage, Helen was wearing a tiara, which gave one palace correspondent apoplexy. “In Australia,” he thundered, “tiaras are never worn.” He called Reddy’s diamonds “an unnecessary vulgarity.” Other journalists were almost as mean. Back home in L.A., Reddy’s husband and manager, Jeff Wald, protested. “No woman on earth can upstage the Queen,” he admitted, and added bravely, “Our experience in Australia was totally positive.”

Lou is Two

It’s one thing playing second banana to Paul Newman, but Edward (Lou Grant) Asner isn’t taking any chances that some supporting actor in the just-wrapped Fort Apache—the Bronx will someday bump his name from the marquee. It’s a common industry practice when a player rises from obscurity to stardom. So Asner has had a “no credit erosion” stipulation written into his contract, which means that even when the movie winds up on TV it will still say “Starring Edward Asner.”

Swan Song?

A knee injury prevented Natalia Makarova from completing her performance in the $500,000 American Ballet Theatre production of La Bayadere on PBS’ Live from Lincoln Center. But friends say the ballerina’s greatest anguish is not physical but professional. Mikhail Baryshnikov, the ABT’s incoming director, has subtly demoted Natasha—who had also reportedly wanted the job—by offering her only a few starring roles after he takes over in September. “She could never dance under Misha. There just isn’t room in one company for two artistic directors,” one insider related. There are other casualties of Baryshnikov’s takeover. Principal dancer Kirk Peterson won’t be back for the new season. Friends say he quit in a pique after Misha told him he didn’t see him in classical roles; the ABT says only: “His contract has not been renewed.”

Hoopla Kareem

Abdul-Jabbar, 33, is looking for a showbiz future when his $650,000 contract with the L.A. Lakers runs out in two years. He’ll be a challenge to Hollywood, e.g., how to photograph a 7’2″ beanpole alongside ordinary mortals? Jabbar also has a reputation for aloofness, though fortunately he doesn’t come across that way onscreen. He has done Laugh-In, Merv Griffin, Dinah, Dick Cavett, The Man from Atlantis and Mannix, and he makes his movie debut in Airplane (a spoof of Airport in which he plays a co-pilot). He turned down Tomorrow host Tom Snyder, however. “I avoided him,” Jabbar humphed, “because he asks the questions, answers them, and then comments on the words he puts in your mouth.”


John Gavin, tapped to play Cary Grant in the NBC-TV movie of Sophia Loren’s autobiography, apparently is not worried that he bears little resemblance to Grant. Gavin recalled a woman guest’s astonishment when she was introduced to the dashing actor at a charity event. “You don’t look like Cary Grant,” she exclaimed. Smiled Grant: “Nobody does.”