The A-Team’s good-looker, Dirk Benedict, sees a few ironic flaws in the American way. “We’re a nation of juveniles—young, immature, no tradition. Everybody’s looking to be led. We’re just so susceptible. You could sell the people any goddamn thing…. From the moment you enter college, you’re encouraged not to think, to forget about your own special feeling and views on life and to plug into whatever the going belief is.” He concluded this speech by paraphrasing H.L. Mencken: “Never underestimate the stupidity of the American public.” Thus spoke the man who helped make The A-Team one of TV’s biggest hits.
Joan Rivers did not invite the press to hear her tell jokes at a national radio broadcasters luncheon in Los Angeles, but a few of her zingers sneaked out of the private affair anyway. She told a sequence of music jokes, including one that country star Mel Tillis can add to the cracks he often makes about his own stuttering. “What do I know about music?” Joan asked. “I thought the record Say Say Say was Mel Tillis trying to sing the Star-Spangled Banner.”
TV’s fabled talking horse, Mr. Ed, was no neigh-sayer and would never speak unless he had something to say. That being such a rare quality these days, a fan club based in Cedar Hill, Texas honors Mr. Ed and the sitcom he starred in from 1961 to 1965. James Burnett, 25, a writer and part-time package courier, heads the group of about 500 Ed-heads, which includes Mr. Ed’s former co-star, Alan Young, and a host of rock ‘n’ rollers who accepted Burnett’s offer of free membership. “Tiny Tim’s one of our most enthusiastic members,” says Burnett, who also inducted Iggy Pop and Eric Clapton. Pete Townshend joined the club with a letter asking, “By the way, who is Mr. Ed? I thought I should know in case someone asks.” Sadly, only 300 people showed up at Dallas’ 2,500-seat Bronco Bowl when Burnett sponsored a Mr. Ed concert in July. That left him $20,000 in debt, and to bail out he plans a trip to Hollywood to drum up interest in a new Mr. Ed show. So Burnett won’t have time for soliciting new club members anymore. “I just want it to be a real left-field organization,” he says. “Anyone who wants to declare himself a member can be in it for free.”
The audience at a taping of The Cosby Show heard Bill Cosby giving an unusually loud order backstage before he showed himself to the public. “Don’t try to steal the scene just ’cause your sister’s watching,” he yelled. Coz aimed this advice at his onscreen wife, Clair, played by former One Life to Live actress Phylicia Ayers-Allen, because her sister, Debbie Allen, of Fame fame, was in the audience. Later on, when Phylicia flubbed one line three times in a row, Bill yelled out to the crowd, “Hey, Debbie!” “Yeah?” came a response from beyond the cameras. Laughing, Coz added, “Hey, Debbie! Get in the bull pen!”
Juice Newton’s country-rock sound is softer than all the heavy metal you hear on MTV, but the woman is tough as nails. In the eight videos she has made, Juice survived a series of potential disasters. She stood next to a false wall as a car crashed into it at about 25 mph and stopped just a few feet from her. She took a long swim in the Pacific Ocean, even though she doesn’t swim very well. Worst of all, she donned a full body cast and sat in a wheelchair above a towering cliff in Carmel, Calif. When someone let go of the safety wire, she almost rolled over the edge. “It wasn’t comfortable making videos,” says Juice. “But you’ve got to do your own stunts. My motto is ‘No guts, no glory.’ ”
Forget the critics. Some actors have more cause to fear the wrath of an audience. Peter Weller, who stars as a good guy in the film Buckaroo Banzai, went to an advance screening of Firstborn, in which he plays Teri Garr’s sinister lover. “It was in a big movie house in New Jersey,” says Peter. “And I was scared to death at the end; the audience was hissing and booing me. I turned to my producer, Stanley Jaffe, and said, ‘I think I’d better get out of here.’ He said, ‘Yes, I think you’d better.’ I thought people would really do something to me. So I snuck out and sat in the limo, waiting ’til it was over.”