IN THE HEAT OF THE FLIGHT: Recently, Blair Underwood, the cool and cocky Jonathan Rollins on NBC’s L.A. Law, met his hero, actor Sidney Poitier, on an airplane. “I did just what anyone would do,” says Underwood, 23. “I said, ‘Oh, Mr. Poitier, I am your greatest fan. Excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom now.’ It didn’t sound the way I meant it to. I was so in awe of him.” Later, Blair relaxed enough to talk more calmly with Poitier, who got right to the point. Apparently unfamiliar with Blair’s Law work, he asked, “Are you any good?”

PUT UP YOUR DUKES: Robert Harling, author of the hit off-Broadway play Steel Magnolias, says the 16,664 residents of his hometown of Natchitoches (pronounced Na-ka-tish), La., were all abuzz over the arrival of movie stars Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine and Jessica Lange, who came to make the film version of his play. The lauded ladies received top-line Southern hospitality, especially the recent Oscar winner, Dukakis, who is the cousin of Democratic presidential contender Michael Dukakis. “One dyed-in-the-wool Republican woman living near Olympia Dukakis asked me where she could get some Dukakis-for-President signs for her yard,” says Harling. “She told me, ‘Of course I’d never vote for him, but I think it would be the neighborly thing to do.’ ”

HALL MARK PERFORMANCE: Proving you can’t judge a model by her covers, aspiring actress Jerry Hall will make her stage debut in Bus Stop at Montclair (N.J.) State College’s Theatre Fest on July 26. Jerry, in the role Marilyn Monroe made famous in the 1956 movie version, will play Cherie, the dim Southern chanteuse who falls for Bo, a yearning yokel. Will it be difficult to act as dumb as the character is supposed to be? “No,” says the Texas-born Jerry. “I have years of experience acting dumb. It has helped sometimes. In business when men act patronizing, you just smile and act dumb and charming, and you get away with a lot. But beneath this peroxide-blond hair lies a smart brunet.” Jerry reports that housemate Mick Jagger pitched in when she was preparing for the part. “Mick helped me rehearse my lines, and he’s become a really good Bo. He’s got the Southern accent down pretty good.”

MINOR INCONVENIENCE: Even Bull Durham, this summer’s grand-slam hit about baseball farm-team players and their erogenous strike zones, may not tell the whole truth about the minor leagues. Just ask ex-Brooklyn Dodger and Hall of Fame member Duke Snider, who spent a gritty year as a triple-A manager in 1966. “Minor league baseball was a place where you played hard every day to get to the big leagues where the money was at,” says Snider, whose autobiography, The Duke of Flatbush, was published last month. “The conditions weren’t always that great. [Los Angeles Dodgers manager] Tommy Lasorda told me a story about when he managed a team in Utah, and there was this kid right out of college who was a pitcher used to whirlpool treatments. He came up to Tom and said, ‘I got a sore ankle, where’s the whirlpool?’ and Lasorda said, ‘You see that toilet over there? Well you stick your foot in that and flush it. That’s our whirlpool.’ ”

DROP IT: In the current hemline war that pits real-women-with-thighs against models-in-minis, what side does a designing woman take? “I’m not keen on minis,” says Designing Women’s brassy looker, Delta Burke. “When you sit down, all that stuff shows and there’s no mystery anymore. Only 10 women in the country can wear miniskirts and look good, and, honey, I’m not one of them.”

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