Peter Castro
July 09, 1990 12:00 PM

JITTER BUGGED

TATUM O’NEAL, 26, is looking for movie work. After taking a five-year break from films to devote herself to motherhood, O’Neal (who, with her husband, tennis pro JOHN MCENROE, has two sons, KEVIN, 4, and SEAN, 2) said at an Amnesty International benefit in New York City that she has returned to movies and is now shooting Little Noises with CRISPIN GLOVER. “I’m a bit jittery, but I’m going to be all right. It’s a conflict between being a working mother and also the excitement of going back to work,” says O’Neal. “I’m going to keep reading scripts and I’m going to keep making more time, and the kids are going to let me be a little freer—they’re getting more and more into school. I don’t think I’ll ever be as busy as a MICHELLE PFEIFFER, but I’ll just keep pushing.”

PICKET LINES

Director DAVID LYNCH, whose film and TV work (Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks) exposes the rank reality beneath life’s serene facade, is optimistic about the future. “I grew up in a white-picket-fence neighborhood, and those were good times to me,” says Lynch, 44, whose forthcoming film, Wild at Heart, recently won the Golden Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival. “I love white picket fences. I think some of this country’s greatest hours were the late ’40s and early ’50s, when there was some sort of fantastic mood that I’ve never seen again. [Things] seemed solid and clean and newer, and there was a depth of wholesomeness. It was great until you went deeper into it. Life went to hell in a hand basket after that. Little kids were shooting heroin, not knowing where their mother was. Maybe it’s nutty of me, but I think something is starting to happen now, and we’re headed toward something good.”

A CLASSLESS APPROACH

As Dwayne on A Different World, KADEEM HARDISON portrays a brainy college student, but he says in real life, college never really added up for him. “I have no regrets about not going to college, “says Hardison, 24. “I can always go if I want to. I was a good student until they started putting letters in math like A, B, and C and started dividing them. People I went to high school with tell me I’m just like Dwayne. That’s not true. I know I used to chase girls, but I wasn’t a genius, that’s for sure. I’m not as well-spoken as Dwayne. I know him off the script. There are words there I don’t think I’d ever say.”

PAY ATTENTION

FAITH DANIELS, 33, who recently switched from CBS to NBC, where she’s delivering the news on the Today show, says she has had it with all the stories about women anchors earning huge salaries. “Compare half-a-million-dollar women wage earners [in network news] with million-dollar male wage earners and you won’t come close. And most of the female names are names that just went up there in the last year or so,” says Daniels. “What bothered me when the whole DIANE [SAWYER]-CONNIE [CHUNG] switch occurred was that there was so much hoopla…. All of a sudden, everyone was listing all the names of women making a lot of money when they should really have been focusing on the fact that women are doing what men have been doing for a long time. I’ve sat elbow to elbow with men who were making more for the same work. Maybe the argument is that no one in news should be making a million dollars, but if the men are, then the women should.”

COMPLEMENTARY ADMISSION

ELAINE STEINBECK, widow of the great American writer JOHN STEINBECK (1902-1968), was always positively supportive of her husband’s work. “He wouldn’t read a whole book to me, but if he was writing dialogue and I was cooking, he would say, ‘Let me read you what I wrote today,’ ” says Mrs. Steinbeck, 75, who granted permission to Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Co. to adapt her husband’s novel The Grapes of Wrath for the stage. (Currently on Broadway, Grapes won this year’s Tony award for best play.) “It was for him to hear the work. Sometimes, when we had very close friends for dinner, he would read a scene, but he never discussed it with me. He certainly didn’t ever want me to say I didn’t like something. He wanted me to say, ‘That’s wonderful,’ and I did.”

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