March 03, 1986 12:00 PM

HE WOODEN DARE: Back when Nebraska Gov. Bob Kerrey started dating Debra Winger, cornhuskers joked that the Governor, who lost part of his right leg in Vietnam, had been “swept off his foot” by the screen queen. Now Kerrey has reportedly lost his sweetheart to Al Pacino. But his sense of humor is still intact. Kerrey, who recently purchased a classic wood-paneled Ford station wagon, was approached by an Associated Press reporter who said, “my New York editors want a picture of your Woodie.” Always quick on his foot, the governor lifted his right pant leg.

LADY IN WAITING: Lunching in London with Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres raved about the musical version of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables that he’d seen the night before. That prompted Di to remark on the difficulties of finding a parking space in the West End theater district. “Excuse me,” asked another dinner guest, “but how would you know?” The former Lady Diana Spencer snapped back, “I haven’t always been a princess!”

MAYBE HE SHOULD WEAR HIS NAME ON HIS SLEEVE: Stand-up talk show host Phil Donahue couldn’t get any respect during a taping in Miami. One audience member complained that Donahue insisted on inviting “too many homosexuals and too many heterosexuals” on his show. Though stung by such logic, Donahue is accustomed to the battering. “Everywhere I go,” TV’s nicest guy complained, “people knock me over looking for Mario [Thomas, his wife]. One day a truck driver came along waving and honking. I thought, ‘Finally, my fan,’ until he leaned out the window and said, ‘Hello, Merv!’ ”

TIES DON’T BIND: Justine Bateman of Family Ties has looked at stardom from both sides now. The actress, who plays Michael J. Fox’s sibling rival, Mallory, is finding time away from the hit show’s heavy shooting schedule to squeeze in a few extracurricular activities. Besides acting as guest veejay on NBC’s Friday Night Videos and writing record reviews for the Los Angeles Times, Bateman has ventured forth to find out what life is like among the pariahs of the press corps—as an interviewer for Entertainment Tonight. What she found wasn’t pretty. “You get people who hang out in front of the lens and don’t move on, or you get people who chat as they back away from the microphone. And staking out your spot in a mob of paparazzi—I almost came to blows with a guy.” Adds Bateman: “I can totally relate, now.”

AS LONG AS THEY’RE HOUSE-BROKEN: Chicago rock fans have found a new way to salute their heroes. Rather than stomping, lighting matches or simply applauding, Windy City audiences have taken up a cheer pioneered at Bears games. They bark—or, as they say in Chi, “woof”—their approval. Local concert promoters first heard the animalistic ovation when folk-rocker Bonnie Raitt appeared at the city’s Park West club. And when Hoosier hero John Cougar Mellencamp delivered an especially lively set at the Rosemont Horizon recently, fans howled. Mellencamp wasn’t sure what to make of the barking and had to be assured during intermission that the audience wasn’t booing.

ESTATE OF THE ART: Don’t think Sidney Sheldon hasn’t made a whole lot of money from such best-sellers as The Other Side of Midnight and Rage of Angels. At a gathering in his Beverly Hills home, the novelist was asked by a guest, “Who lives in that lovely mansion next to yours?” Replied Sheldon: “That’s no mansion. That’s my cabana.”

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