Upstairs, Downstairs veteran Lesley-Anne Down was minding her own business on the London set of Burt Reynolds’ Rough Cut when an 80ish character actor approached and asked eagerly, “When’s Burt coming?” Down pointed to Reynolds and said, “He’s here now.” The octogenarian thespian squinted to no avail, so Down again nodded, “He’s right over there—Burt Reynolds.” “Reynolds?” asked the disappointed actor—then griped that he’d only taken the job because he thought Rough Cut was a Burt Lancaster movie.
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“I’m not a stand-up comedian, I don’t do risqué jokes,” explains Timothy Leary, the former acid guru who’s now tripping (and some critics say bombing) with an act at L.A.’s Improv night spot. What Leary does is try to provide 90 minutes of “entertaining philosophy” on subjects like Woody Allen (“I make fun of how all his movies are self-pitying, how they’re all 1950s Freudian”), Ralph Nader (“He wants to solve our problems by entangling us in more bureaucracy”) and California’s leaving the Union (“I’m a 1,000 percent California patriot—we’re the eighth largest industrial power and should secede”). Why did Leary, 58, pick L.A. for his showcase? “I think it’s most important to reach the young people in Hollywood now,” he figures, “because they’re the ones who are creating the myths and fantasies and models that are influencing the rest of the world.”
According to a story overheard on the set of his new film, Heaven’s Gate, director Michael Cimino knows from rueful experience that Jane Fonda takes her politics personally. As was widely reported, Fonda, in a press conference after the Academy Awards, condemned Cimino’s Oscar-winning The Deer Hunter as “a racist, Pentagon version of the war.” She hadn’t yet seen the film, she admitted, but friends had told her about it. What wasn’t reported is that Cimino shared an elevator with Fonda on the way to the press conference and extended his hand to offer congratulations for her Oscar in Coming Home. No response. “She wouldn’t look at me,” he recalls. “She wouldn’t talk to me. It was very embarrassing. She was that far away.”
Rumors are circulating that MGM is dissatisfied with James Caan’s not-yet-released directorial debut, Hide in Plain Sight, but there’s no question that Caan is unhappy with MGM. Its worldwide production chief, Dick Shepherd, is “40 years behind the times,” claims Caan. “He thinks everyone outside of Hollywood is a yokel. His idea of a great picture is The Champ.” In part, Caan is disgruntled because “Shepherd wanted me to shoot from a dozen different angles because that’s the way it’s always been done.” Caan chose to keep it simple. “My picture,” he sniffs, “isn’t filled with technical crap.”
•Britain’s Duchess of Bedford, 59, offers an unselfish rationale for her recent $4,000 facelift. “The operation wasn’t for myself—I only look at myself when I’m putting on lipstick,” notes Her Grace. “I had it done out of consideration for the people who have to look at me all day.” Besides, “I love restoring old things—after all, I restored Woburn Abbey.”
•Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, recovering from a relapse of an old vocal cord injury, worried over tea in Tel Aviv with roving U.S. Ambassador Robert Strauss. “The doctors advised me not to talk,” croaked Dayan. “I don’t know if they meant for health or political reasons.”
•Bobby Vinton and wife Dolly were dining at a Beverly Hills restaurant when the owner brought over four menus and a brassiere that customers wanted autographed. Wholesome Vinton obligingly signed the menus, but turned to his wife for a nod on the bra. “It’s okay,” she reassured, “as long as the girl isn’t in it.”