September 12, 1988 12:00 PM

PIGMENT OF THE IMAGINATION: George Bush may have offended some Hispanics by colorfully describing the three children of his son Jeb and Jeb’s Mexican-born wife, Columba, as “the little brown ones,” but Mexican-American comedian Paul Rodriguez is tickled pink by the whole thing. “I think it’s a positive thing that there are little brown Bushes. Let’s hope they grow up to be mighty oak trees,” says Rodriguez. “This whole race has been good for Hispanics. [Michael] Dukakis can speak Spanish. If he wins he’ll be the first President who knows all the words to ‘La Bamba.’ ” And if Bush is elected President? “He’ll take his grandchildren to the White House but he’ll tell them, ‘No graffiti while you’re here.’ ”

NYET GAINS: At least one top-ranked Soviet tennis player is seeing red over the money ($64,333 last year) that she wins and her government keeps. “I hope it will be better in the future,” says 17-year-old Soviet sensation Natalia Zvereva, who has risen to eighth in the Virginia Slims standings. “It is not right to work hard and win a lot of money and then not get to keep it. The Czechs at least get to keep some of their prize money, but I don’t keep anything.” That may change next year, however, when Soviet tennis authorities have hinted they will let players keep a portion of their earnings. “When I do start earning money,” says Natalia, “the first thing I will buy is a silver or red sports Mercedes, but that’s all for now. If I had more money, I’d have more ideas.”

SHORT COMING: Comedian Martin Short, once a star of Saturday Night Live, moves to Saturday morning TV when he stars in The Ed Grimley Show, an animated program based on Short’s nervous goofball character with the unicorn hairdo, beginning on NBC Sept. 10. “When I was a kid, I loved Bullwinkle and Bugs Bunny, and it’s clear the level of comedy in those cartoons is far superior to any today,” says Short. “Nowadays, it’s all GoBots and robots and ‘Blow that up.’ I always found Star Wars to be depressing, in fact, because I hated to think that war was still waging 200 years from now.” Short says his children, Catherine, 4, and Oliver, 2, are only slightly baffled by their dad’s dual identity. “Catherine will see a drawing of me as Ed and wonder why other kids’ parents aren’t animated. But I think they’re able to disassociate Ed from their father—luckily for them.”

SOAP ON ICE: If you thought Madonna‘s Broadway stint was a dramatic departure, consider this—South African playwright and actor Athol Fugard this week is veering from The Road to Mecca, the off-Broadway play he wrote and stars in, to temporarily play a disabled lighthouse keeper in ABC’s One Life to Live. “I’m schooled in the slow, labored, dignified pace of the theater, but this soap is a whole different world,” says Fugard, who started taping shows last month. “For me it’s like roller skating on ice. I’ve never learned and forgotten lines so fast in all my life. It’s unhesitatingly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. They call it ‘terrorist acting’ on the set because you’re in constant terror to remember lines, and they’re right.” When asked why the world’s leading antiapartheid dramatist would deign to do a soap, Fugard says, “I’d hate to live a life that had no room for frivolity. A wonderful invitation came along and I took it.”

WORKING OUT A PROBLEM: Despite starring in two forthcoming films, Scandal with John Hurt and Shag with Phoebe Cates, everything’s not gym-dandy for Bridget Fonda, the 24-year-old daughter of Peter and ex-wife Susan Brewer Fonda—and, of course, niece of Jane. “I love Jane very much. She has a weird sense of humor, which I tune into,” Bridget told London’s Mirror Woman, “but I don’t work out to her tapes. I just hate aerobics…all that jumping up and down gives me a headache. Makes my brain slosh around. I’d rather do a more gentle stretching class.”

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