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Take One

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Rumors have abounded for months about the problems besetting Mike’s Murder, a film starring Debra Winger as a woman whose lover is mysteriously killed. After an extensive overhaul by director Jim (Urban Cowboy) Bridges, the film, completed a year ago, will finally be released March 9. The trouble started when Mike was poorly received at its initial previews. “Originally, the story was told in flashback,” says Bridges. “I suspected it was confusing, so I put it in sequence.” He also replaced Joe Jackson’s score with one by John Barry. But, Bridges maintains, “There are 11 places where we still use Joe Jackson’s music,” and he adamantly denies reports that he toned down the $6.3-million film, in which Winger’s lover gets killed off in a very gory manner. “I wouldn’t have touched it if I thought I was making compromises. There’s a homosexual element still in the picture. You no longer see the actual murder, but you see the aftermath.” He adds, “It’s a tough film about life in L.A. I’ve known five people who’ve been murdered who were involved in the drug scene.” Winger has a slightly different theory about Mike’s murderous route to the box office: “The real reason for the delay is that the movie is about cocaine and murder in Hollywood. That’s hard to take in this town.”

Word is that a wedding day is imminent for Elizabeth McGovern and Sean Penn, who have been in Mexico scouting locales for the ceremony. Elizabeth and Sean star in Racing with the Moon, to be released March 23, in which they play lovers, naturally…As for What’s New in Linda Ronstadt’s love life, she’s living with Star Wars creator George Lucas at his 19th-century hilltop home in San Anselmo, Calif. Lucas’ divorce from his estranged wife Marcia, whom he married in 1969 and who moved out last June, is pending. The annual performer Q study, which ranks some 1,050 celebs according to popularity, won’t be out until May. But Steven Levitt, president of Marketing Evaluations Inc., which begins polling 5,400 people next month, is predicting who the superstars and superduds will be. In his top three percent: Alan Alda, Carol Burnett, Tom Selleck, George Burns and Clint Eastwood. In the bottom two percent: Marie Osmond, Barbi Benton, Howard Cosell, Muhammad Ali, Rona Barrett, Yoko Ono, Farrah Fawcett and Bruce Jenner. Well, maybe so, but Jenner’s performer Q—he ranked in the bottom five percent last year—obviously hasn’t hurt his career. The 1976 Olympic decathlon champ has renewed his NBC contract, and he is hosting six syndicated specials called The Golden Link, about Olympic events and athletes. In addition, Bruce and Bob Mathias, the decathlon winner in 1948 and 1952, narrate a double album titled The History of the Ancient and Modern Olympics, to be released later this month.

Soap actress Jeanne Cooper and Kay Chancellor, the character she plays on CBS’s The Young and the Restless, are both getting a facelift. Cooper, 50ish, is undergoing the surgery March 12, and portions of the procedure will be televised in late March: She may actually have her bandages removed on the show and will appear on camera during her expected four-week recovery, with all her bruises and scars. The surgery will be performed by Victoria Principal’s steady, Dr. Harry Glassman, but we won’t get to see him: CBS has hired an actor to portray him on the soap.