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Take One

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Joan Collins’ ex-hubby, entertainer Anthony Newley, 54, says he turned down an offer to write his autobiography for Simon & Schuster, publisher of Collins’ 1984 best-selling tell-all memoir, Past Imperfect. Stung by Joan’s account of their turbulent marriage (1963-1971), Newley says, “I was born and raised an Englishman, and there’s no reason for me to sink to that woman’s level. I was tremendously hurt by that woman. She stuck the knife in and twisted the handle.” Adds Newley, “To the unwashed public, that woman is a star. But to those who know her, she’s a commodity who would sell her own bowel movement.”

When test audiences grumbled that there weren’t enough steamy encounters between Top Gun co-stars Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis, the producers called back the two stars to shoot more love scenes six months after the film wrapped. McGillis, who plays a comely blond naval flight instructor, had already committed hairy-kiri: Her do had been cut and darkened for her next movie, Made in Heaven. So for a scene in which she and Cruise get close in an elevator, she wears a military cap. But for serious lovemaking, off comes her cap, along with everything else. The hitch is that the two are seen only in silhouette.

Catch-22 author Joseph Heller, on the rebound from a messy 1984 divorce and from a three-year bout with Guillain-Barré syndrome, is hinting that he’ll remarry this fall. His new Mrs. will be Valerie Humphries, late 30s, the nurse he fell in love with while she took care of him during his recovery. “I can’t cook, I can’t clean, I can’t take care of myself,” says Heller, 63. “Val and I are a good mix. She loves taking care of people and I love having things done for me.”

Jim Nabors’ reincarnation as Gomer Pyle on NBC’s Return to Mayberry may revive his TV career. He’ll be doing a pilot for that network called Sprayberry in Paradise, co-starring Ann (Sweet Dreams) Wedgeworth, in which he’ll play a bell captain at a Hawaiian hotel….

Olivia Newton-John’s sister Rona, 42, will dish out some family tales for her book, Of Relative Significance. As for sibling rivalry, at least it’s not titled Sister Dearest.

Robin Leach, host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Loquacious, doesn’t do anything quietly. That includes saying thank you. After interviewing the usually elusive Liz Taylor at an Erté exhibit in Beverly Hills not long ago, Leach promptly purchased a $2,200 Erté lithograph for Liz as his way of saying thanks. He’ll be dropping it off on the doorstep—amid much fanfare—of her Bel Air home. Now Leach is boasting that he got the lithograph at cost for around $1,000. On an expense account like his, the artwork should cause nary a blip at either price.

Actor John Schneider, who’ll be seen on May 18 in a CBS remake of John Ford’s 1939 Stagecoach, is mastering the tricks of selling a screenplay. Virtually every Hollywood studio rejected his Western, Seven Days From Sunday, because, he was told, the genre is dead. Schneider then began describing the plot to would-be backers as “Death Wish goes to the country.” The ploy helped. Schneider has now raised almost all of the $3.2 million he needs to start shooting this summer.

Dolly Parton is planning a film called Sister Sunshine, in which she’ll play a TV evangelist who suffers a fall from grace. Says Dolly, “I’ve always thought I could make a great evangelist movie because people say I’m always preaching anyway.” Amen.