Pamela Lansden
September 29, 1986 12:00 PM

Defense attorneys aside, director John Landis tried using a little body language of his own to trip up a prosecution witness at his L.A. trial for involuntary manslaughter. Landis heard casting agent Marci Liroff testify that the director was “gruff” when he announced that he would flout state child-labor laws and hire two Vietnamese children as movie extras to work after dark. Both children died in a helicopter crash during the filming of The Twilight Zone: The Movie. When Liroff later tried to leave the crowded courtroom, she found her way blocked by Landis, 36, who sits in the only pathway for witnesses to reach the stand. “Excuse me,” she said to Landis, who did not look up. Barely keeping her balance as she stepped over Landis’ outstretched legs, she angrily shook her head as she walked away. Landis immediately pulled his legs back to allow a defense attorney to pass and stared at Liroff as she left.

In Steven Gaines’ new book, Heroes and Villains: The True Story of the Beach Boys, due out next month, Karen Lamm, twice married and divorced from drummer Dennis Wilson, tells of the musician’s grim struggle with heroin. After trying the drug in 1977, Wilson (who died in 1983) constantly had to resist its temptations, according to Lamm. In one episode Wilson told Lamm that the urge for the drug was so strong that “either I did heroin or I went out and burned down the car.” He chose to torch the car, a $70,000 blue Ferrari, which Wilson doused with lighter fluid and set ablaze in a Venice, Calif. parking lot. Lamm says that vagrants who had been sleeping in the lot danced around the car with him as it burned.

Teen movie meister John (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) Hughes’s latest production, Some Kind of Wonderful, is looking pretty in pink slips. First, filmmaker Howard Deutch, who directed Pretty in Pink, left the project. Then his replacement, director Martha (Valley Girl) Coolidge, resigned only weeks before the start date because of differences with Hughes. Coolidge’s choice for the lead, Kyle (Blue Velvet) MacLachlan has since been replaced by Craig Sheffer. Even supporting players have not been immune from Hughes’s influence: Kim (All My Children) Delaney was replaced by Lea Thompson, last seen making love to Howard the Duck. So who’s finally directing? Deutch, who decided not to take a day off after all.

Though Joan Crawford hit her with hangers and cut her from the will, daughter Christina got the last whack by turning her pain into the best-selling autobiography Mommie Dearest. Now Christina’s past is coming up again—this time as a set of Mommie Dearest audiocassettes narrated by Christina herself. Perhaps the last twist to the Crawford story is that the tapes are being produced by Listen for Pleasure, a Toronto-based company, as a Christmas gift idea.

Oh no. Trouble in the Magic Kingdom. Disney executives are still puzzling over the disappearance of nearly $400,000 worth of film from its new feature, Tin Men, starring Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito. The footage covered four days of work by Dreyfuss, DeVito and Barbara (Hannah and Her Sisters) Hershey, as well as hundreds of extras. The film apparently vanished on its way to the lab. Producer Mark Johnson and director Barry (The Natural) Levin-son say nobody knows what happened. Unless somebody turns up with the film, everything will have to be reshot.

The pay’s okay but the hype is too low. That’s the conclusion reached by The Price is Right hostesses Dian Parkinson and Janice Pennington after being tormented by Wheel of Fortune’s Vanna White’s remarkable success. In an effort to up their bids, Dian and Janice hired a public relations firm to promote them. Janice, who has faked ecstasy over two-door refrigerators and washer-dryers for the past 15 years, really wants to act in addition to jumping up and down. Besides, she’s fed up with doing all the work while Vanna just stands there and gets famous. “She doesn’t do a tenth of what we do,” says Janice. “We talk a lot, do skits, say lines. There’s no comparison.” Move over, Madonna, there’s a new generation of Vanna be’s.

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