Here Comes the Fall!
Jiggle” shows may have been bounced from TV, but that doesn’t mean sex won’t sell. CBS, for instance, is banking on the appeal of Lynda Carter playing ’40s sex symbol Rita Hayworth, although the casting of Wonder Woman has brought on hoots of derision from some critics. But, says Carter, “I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t been subject to criticism. I just did the best I could, and I think it turned out fabulously.” So much for modesty. The TV biography Rita Hayworth: the Love Goddess chronicles the actress’s career from her beginnings as a teenage dancer to her emergence as a Hollywood superstar. Hayworth, who now lives in New York and is a victim of Alzheimer’s disease, a crippling brain disorder, wasn’t involved with the project.
Already touted as one of the season’s surefire hits, Hotel has a perennially winning premiere: An all-star cast is stuck in a sort of landlocked Love Boat, the glamorous St. Gregory Hotel in San Francisco. Based on Arthur Hailey’s best-selling 1965 novel and produced by Love Boat admiral Aaron Spelling, the ABC series features Bette Davis as the hotel’s owner, James Brolin as the manager, and Connie (The Greatest American Hero)
Sellecca as assistant manager. In hopes that viewers will check in every week (Spelling knows a good formula when he sees one), the producers are going after big game (Laurence Olivier among them) for cameo appearances, and the sets alone cost $1.6 million. One question mark is Davis, who is only under contract for seven days a year and, at 75, is rumored to be in ill health.
With his performance in the new ABC sitcom Webster, 12-year-old Emmanuel Lewis moves in hard on the Adorable Kid territory staked out by Gary Coleman. Lewis, the veteran of a variety of TV commercials, plays an 8-year-old child adopted by a recently married couple. Ex-footballer Alex Karras and Susan Clark, who are married in real life, play Lewis’ adoptive parents. “He’s a delightful little boy,” says Clark. “He is, in fact, a pro.”
Twenty years after appearing on Hallmark Hall of Fame, Hollywood’s Moses has parted the seas to reach TV land again. Charlton Heston says that “the challenge of the long form, the role and the people involved” brought him to Chiefs, a six-hour miniseries for CBS based on a best-selling novel by Stuart Woods. Heston is cast as Hugh Holmes, leading citizen of a Georgia town. Unknown to the town but discovered by three police chiefs over the years are unsolved murders which may be linked to Holmes. Brad Davis, Wayne Rogers and Billy Dee Williams play the chiefs.
In her first series since she shed her halo in 1979, Kate Jackson plays a harried single mother who becomes the sidekick to a U.S. spy, Bruce (Bring ‘Em Back Alive) Boxleitner. (Who thinks these things up, anyway?) Called Scarecrow and Mrs. King, this CBS comedy-action series is reminiscent of Hart to Hart. The duo she and Bruce portray are more rumpled than the sophisticated Harts, and besides, reports Jackson, “The spirit is different.” Oh.
“This is more of a horse opera than a soap opera,” Cybill Shepherd says of The Yellow Rose. Shepherd—whose career never lived up to the promise of her performance, at 21, as a spoiled little rich girl in The Last Picture Show—is making her TV debut with the NBC series, which is set on a big Texas ranch. Cybill, now 33, plays a headstrong young widow whose life is complicated by David Soul and Sam Elliott. Also in the large cast are Susan Anspach, Edward Albert and Chuck Connors. Despite Shepherd’s protestations, NBC surely hopes The Yellow Rose will smell as sweet as Dallas or Dynasty.
Jane Fonda got a chance to eat possum, milk a cow and split wood in preparation for The Dollmaker, an ABC-TV movie about a Kentucky mountain woman who must learn to adjust to urban life when she and her husband move to Detroit. Fonda, who is making her TV dramatic debut, bears an eerie resemblance to her late father in The Grapes of Wrath. The 45-year-old actress put on 20 pounds for the role but says she “enjoyed every minute of it.” Now we’ll see if her Workout really works.
“This is the most intimidating role I’ve ever played,” Martin Sheen says of his portrayal of the President in Kennedy, a seven-hour NBC miniseries that follows JFK from his election in 1960 to his assassination three years later. Sheen prepared for the part with Kennedy-esque vigor, reading numerous books and visiting both the JFK and LBJ libraries. The series, set to air Nov. 20 to 22, is a British production and was filmed in Hyannis, Mass., New York City, Palm Beach and Richmond, Va. Blair Brown, who plays Jackie, studied photographs of the Kennedys. “Their lives appear to be so perfect,” she says, “with so much hope in their faces. But you know what’s in store for them.”
If, after watching M*A*S*H for 11 years, you thought war was hell, try coming up with a new sitcom worthy of the original. Enter M*A*S*H creator Larry Gelbart and producer Burt Metcalfe, who with After-MASH hope to recapture the spirit of the 4077th, despite the loss of Alan Alda, Loretta Swit, Mike Farrell and David Ogden Stiers. It’s 1953, and the action shifts to a Midwestern Veterans Administration hospital where M*A*S*H holdovers Harry Morgan (Col. Potter), Jamie Farr (Klinger)and William Christopher (Father Mulcahy) end up working together. Potter is restless without a command; Father Mulcahy is depressed by his deafness; Klinger and his Korean-born wife are targets of racial bigotry. “Peace,” observes Gelbart, “is no picnic either.” Obviously, CBS is banking heavily on viewer familiarity, even to the point of putting the new show in M’A ‘S*H’s old 9 p.m. Monday nighttime slot.
You went ape for him when he starred opposite Clint Eastwood in Any Which Way You Can. You loved it when he monkeyed around with Bo Derek in Tarzan, the Ape Man. And you’ll surely go bananas, or so NBC hopes, when Mr. Smith goes—yes—to Washington, to star in his own sitcom. The 4-foot, 165-pound orangutan (a native of the Dallas Zoo) plays a brainy beast who works for the betterment of man (and animal) kind. Mr. Smith’s bio sheet reveals that he is 11 years old, single and likes sunbathing and gymnastics. No mention of whether he hangs out at Hollywood and Vine.
The producers of NBC’s new series Boone needed a young actor who could sing, act and make teenage girls swoon. Like Elvis Presley, Boone Sawyer is a teenage singer who dreams of making it big in Nashville in the 1950s. Twenty-three-year-old Tom Byrd, a relative unknown from Florida who had guested on Laverne & Shirley, Gimme A Break and Fantasy Island, won the role over several hundred other actors. “Tom had the ineffable quality that said ‘right,’ ” recalls Earl Hamner, The Waltons creator, who developed Boone and serves as its executive producer. “I see a young Warren Beatty in Tom’s face. The camera loves him, and his inner niceness comes through.”
A self-taught singer (“in the shower”) and guitar player, the 6’2″, 175-pound actor will sing three songs on the show each week, including, he hopes, some of his own compositions.
Byrd—who lives in a one-bedroom Hollywood apartment—admits that he is tense about his first big break. “I’m nonchalant on the set,” he says, ” but when I come home at night, I call everyone I know for reassurance.”
There’s double trouble due from Stephen King this fall. In The Dead Zone, small-town high school English teacher Christopher Walken awakens from a five-year coma and finds he has clairvoyant powers. According to director David (Scanners) Cronenberg, “The Dead Zone is certainly not a horror film. It’s tense and disturbing. But if people go to it expecting nightmarish terror, they’ll either be disappointed or surprised.” The other King vehicle is Christine, the title character of which is a 1958 red Plymouth Fury. The role was so demanding that at least 14 different Plymouths were actually used during filming. Adapted from King’s current best-seller, this tale of a possessed (alas, not repossessed) car is the first collaboration between the author and horror film whiz John (Escape from New York) Carpenter. The movie, predicts King, will make you “think twice before joining in the great American love affair with the automobile.” (The Dead Zone is scheduled for release in October, Christine in December.)
First John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John got physical. Now they’re getting spiritual. In the celestial comedy Two of a Kind, they team up as a just-deceased couple of desperate souls for whom heaven will just have to wait. The pair is sent back to New York City for a chance at redemption. The film itself is a second go-round for its stars. After a long search for an appropriate script for the two of them, Travolta decided this one was heaven-sent. “This,” he told Olivia, “is definitely it.” At least it’s not more Grease-y kids’ stuff. (December)
For her directorial debut with Yentl, a musical drama about a feisty young Jewish woman in Poland in 1904, Barbra Streisand employed some unorthodox methods. During preproduction, for example, she tested her helming skills by rehearsing scenes with friends and secretaries on videotape. What about rumors that Steven Spielberg has been editing the movie? Says co-producer Rusty Lemorande, “Spielberg did no editing, but he was working next door. And you show your new car to your neighbor before you take it for a drive.” Besides functioning as star and director, Streisand is filling several other roles on the project: co-producer, co-author and, of course, songstress. (December)
Never known for keeping herself under wraps, Pia Zadora is typically frank about The Lonely Lady. “It’s trashy,” she says enthusiastically. In the screen version of Harold Robbins’ novel, Pia is a Hollywood writer struggling to have her work taken seriously. No, Pia did not model the part after herself. Instead, she says, she based her characterization upon a real-life writer: poet Sylvia Plath. “There are very many similarities,” she contends. Say it ain’t so, Pia. (September)
Starring Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger, Terms of Endearment examines the tempestuous relationship between a mother and a daughter. During filming, there were reports that the off-screen chemistry between the leads was often at the boiling point. Not so, according to screenwriter-producer-director James L. Brooks. “I think when two women work together, people look for friction,” says Brooks, who sees a family resemblance between the actresses’s respective careers. “The parts that Debra Winger plays today would have been perfect for Shirley MacLaine. She could have done An Officer and a Gentleman, and Debra would have been great in The Apartment.” (December)
He didn’t exactly wow audiences as Stroker Ace, but maybe Burt Reynolds will do better racing around the bedroom. In The Man Who Loved Women, Burt plays a celebrated Malibu sculptor who can’t quite keep a lid on his libido. Inspired by French director François Truffaut’s 1977 film of the same name, Blake Edwards’ comedy turned out to be a family affair; son Geoffrey co-wrote the screenplay with his father, wife Julie Andrews plays Burt’s shrink, and daughter Jennifer struts through as a streetwalker. Casting one of the female roles required a “leg-call” in Hollywood last February. Billed as having “the most beautiful legs in the world,” Tracy Vaccaro is seen only from the thighs down. (December)
To director Douglas Trumbull, Brainstorm is “a high-tech love story.” To most folks, however, it will always be remembered as Natalie Wood’s last movie. Trumbull believes that Natalie would “really be proud of this film. It’s one of the most serious and tense performances that she ever tried to achieve.” A sci-fi adventure about an invention that enables scientists to read minds, Brainstorm co-stars Christopher Walken, who was with Wood and husband Robert Wagner on their yacht when the actress drowned two years ago. (October)
Brian De Palma’s Scarface is more an update than a remake of the 1932 classic that starred Paul Muni as an Al Capone-type gangster. Explains producer Martin Bregman, “The setting is Miami today, not Chicago back then. The industry is cocaine, not bootlegging. And the character is Cuban, not Italian.” But playing the leading Latin is one of filmdom’s Italian stallions: Al Pacino, whose career has been on the skids since he went Cruising in 1980. Pacino, however, did become a Hollywood don with The Godfather, and maybe he’ll make crime pay again. (December)
Don’t cry for Richard Gere, Argentina. In Beyond the Limit, adapted from Graham Greene’s The Honorary Consul, love South American-style leaves Gere breathless again. He portrays a doctor searching for his father in Argentina; Michael Caine plays a British diplomat stationed there whose wife, newcomer Elpidia Carrillo, dallies with Gere. For Caine, working with An Officer’s gentleman was an adventure. Says Michael, “One morning he wouldn’t speak to me, and the next he’d kiss me on the mouth. Richard’s a smashing guy but unpredictable.” (September)
Gere isn’t the only star who went south of the border this season. In Under Fire, photojournalist Nick Nolte visits Nicaragua to capture the last days of the 1979 revolution. The assignment isn’t exactly a snap, however, as Nolte finds himself and his photos enmeshed in a rebel propaganda plot. With a prologue set in Chad, Under Fire could get a box office boost from current events. (October)
The musical joke is on David Bowie in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, a Japanese-English production which stars Mr. B as a British army major in a Japanese P.O.W. camp during World War II. In one scene, Bowie leads the troops in song—but cannot carry a tune. The film, which opens in New York and L.A. this week, is not a musical washout, however. It features a haunting score by Ryuichi Sakamoto, who could be the new Vangelis.
The longest journey begins with a single step. Last year Cher won critical raves in Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. Her dramatic skills will once again be tested when she stars opposite Meryl Streep in Silkwood. Cher, 37, plays the best friend of Karen Silkwood, the plutonium plant worker who died in a mysterious 1974 car crash en route to meet a reporter. “After 19 years in the business,” says Cher, “this is the first time I’m taking myself seriously.” (December)
Newcomer Kim Basinger, 31, has been keeping very good company. In her two upcoming films, she beds Sean Connery and Burt Reynolds, respectively. The new 007 adventure, Never Say Never Again, features Kim as Domino, the villain’s mistress who subsequently gets Bonded. In The Man Who Loved Women, she plays a Texas millionaire’s lusty wife who banks on Burt’s sexual charms. Frolicking with the fellas was not completely satisfying for Kim, though. “Love scenes are the pits,” she says. “You’re sweating like a pig, asking for water. Baby oil is all over everything. I mean, does that sound romantic?”
Born in Athens, Ga., Kim now lives in California with her husband, makeup artist-photographer Ron Britton. A former Revlon model, she appeared in From Here to Eternity on TV and a couple of forgettable action flicks, but Kim is probably best known for her nude spread in Playboy last February.
For the sloe-eyed Basinger, watching herself on the silver screen is, at best, a nerve-racking experience. “My hands get sweaty and I almost pass out,” she says. But director Blake Edwards has a different reaction to Basinger’s work. “If she picks her roles right,” he declares, “she will be an enormous star.” (December)
The slings and arrows of outrageous reviews have pierced many actors and actresses over the years, Diana Rigg among them. But the former Avengers star is good-natured about these things, so she has gathered hundreds of pans and placed them in an annotated anthology, No Turn Unstoned, the Worst Ever Theatrical Reviews (Doubleday). Rigg, 45, gamely includes a reviewer’s appraisal of a nude scene in 1970’s Abelard and Heloise in which she is described as being “built like a brick mausoleum with insufficient flying buttresses.”
One can’t quite picture TV’s Quincy writing a book like Dr. Thomas Noguchi’s Coroner (Simon & Schuster). The former Los Angeles County medical examiner was ousted from his position in April 1982 after talking too freely about the deaths of Hollywood celebrities, most recently William Holden and Natalie Wood. Now he says he’ll be candid about the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin, Robert F. Kennedy and John Belushi. Sound like hearse-chasing? Noguchi, 56, promises his book will also be an “educational tool” for those who hanker to know more than the bare bones of forensic medicine.
“Motherhood,” proclaims Erma Bombeck, “is 30 to 40 years of trying to make up to your kids for something. It’s not the religious experience people say it is.” Such is the basis for Erma’s droll collection of essays, Motherhood, the Second Oldest Profession (McGraw-Hill). Bombeck, 56, draws freely on her own experience. Confesses the mother of three: “I’m the entire chapter on guilt.”
In Ken Follett’s On Wings of Eagles (William Morrow), all similarities to real persons or events are definitely not coincidental. In his first nonfiction work, Follett recounts the story of Texas industrialist Ross Perot as he helps some of his executives working in Iran break out of a Tehran jail in 1979. It was a tough assignment for Follett. “In a novel, if what you are writing is dull, you can change things to make it interesting,” he notes. “Here, it was harder to do that.”
She sprang into the world wearing a flowered diaper, a feather boa, purple high heels and false eyelashes. This not-so-immaculate confection is the heroine of The Saga of Baby Divine (Crown), a fairy tale by the Divine Miss M. herself, Bette Midler. Bette’s baby is a precocious type who can’t walk but can dance and goes in search of a place “where baubles and bangles and silly ensembles replaced polyester and chintz, and no one would find it outré if a baby wore heels and a red henna rinse.”
Also watch for: Poland, James Michener’s 13th novel, which follows three Polish families from the Middle Ages to the present day; Baby Doll, actress Carroll Baker’s autobiography; and, with apologies to Mark Twain, The Further Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by new talent Greg Matthews.
Her performance as a feisty Appalachian farm woman in Foxfire last season won the venerable Jessica Tandy a Tony Award as best actress, and this December she will be back on Broadway as the fluttery, aged mother in Tennessee Williams’ classic The Glass Menagerie (Amanda Plummer is cast as the daughter). Both the part and the wistful drama were irresistible to Tandy, 74, but are musical-minded Broadway audiences ready for a 1944 period piece? “I certainly hope so,” retorts Tandy tartly. “But if they don’t like it, that’s their problem. It’s just too bad!”
When Garry Trudeau “retired” Doonesbury from the comic pages last January, he announced that he needed a sabbatical to gain a new perspective on modern life. “The trip from draft beer and mixers to cocaine and herpes is a long one,” said Trudeau. “It’s time I got a start on it.” En route, he has managed to dash off a Broadway musical opening in November and starring Duke, Zonker, Joanie Caucus, J.J. (played by Kate Burton) and the rest of the familiar crew. The characters’ progression from the cloister of college to the outside world provides much of the plot, and some of the 17 songs, with music by Elizabeth Swados and lyrics by Trudeau, reflect that rite of passage. Sample titles: Real Estate and It’s the Right Time to Be Rich.
“I think portraying famous men is a schlocky way of making a living,” pronounces Anthony Newley. “Famous men have an essence no actor can get.” But since actors have to make a living, too, Newley, 51, has overcome his objections and will be cavorting across the Broadway stage this October in the title role of a musical called Chaplin. Whether Chaplin’s widow, Oona (played by actress Andrea Marcovicci), and his children will approve remains to be seen. “I’m much too shy to have talked to them,” confesses Newley. “But I would hope desperately that the family likes what we have done.”
Also watch for: Peg, the autobiographical musical of Peggy Lee, starring the 63-year-old torch singer herself; Zorba the Greek, played by—who else?—Anthony Quinn; and the Broadway revival of Inherit the Wind, with a tentative cast of George C. Scott and Jason Robards.
He executed his first pas de deux at age 9 and dreamed of a career with George Balanchine. Alas, the master told Hinton Battle that, at 5’9″, he was too short to be a ballet dancer. So Battle turned in his slippers for tap shoes—and clattered his way to a Tony in 1981 for his razzmatazz supporting performance in Sophisticated Ladies. Now Battle, 26, will demonstrate his fancy footwork (not to mention his singing voice) in The Tap Dance Kid, a musical about the dreams and aspirations of an upper-middle-class black family living in New York.
That’s a far cry from Battle’s upbringing in Fort Riley, Kans. as one of five children of an Army sergeant. Hinton’s big break came at age 18, when he stepped out of the chorus line in The Wiz to become the Scarecrow, a role he played for two and a half years. For The Tap Dance Kid, he has perfected a new step called “the triple jack-leg,” the intricacies of which baffle even Battle. “I’m not sure where the taps are coming from,” he muses. But he certainly knows where he’s going. “Sure I’d like to be a movie star,” he says. “Who wouldn’t?”
It’s been 13 long years since Simon and Garfunkel released an album, but in the wake of their successful summer tour, it’s clearly an idea whose time has come again. Think Too Much, a collection of new songs, is due in October. Paul did the writing, and, says Art, “I think it’s his best music ever.” If that is the case, it should be very good indeed.
One complaint about Southern California is that the seasons never seem to change there, but Los Angelenos will surely know it’s fall when the World Series of drug trials—starring John Z. De Lorean on charges of conspiring to sell $24 million worth of cocaine—begins. With a court date set for Oct. 4, De Lorean is busy marshaling his defense. Says his wife, Cristina, “People will be outraged when we divulge what the government did.” On the other hand, they may be just as outraged to learn what De Lorean did. Cristina will grace the courtroom proceedings in her 18-piece Albert Capraro wardrobe (at a wholesale cost of $200 to $1,500 per outfit). Then, at night, Mrs. D will appear on four episodes of Dynasty (at $25,000 per). The network may be expected to choose air dates that cash in on the real-life daytime drama.
The unbridled fury with which he devoured pretenders to his lightweight title between 1972 and 1979 may have been diminished, but there was heft in his punches, savvy in his technique and fire in his eyes when Roberto Duran took out hapless Davey Moore four months ago in Madison Square Garden to win the WBA junior middleweight crown. Duran has erased the shame of “No más, no más,” and he is thought to have an outside chance of exposing vaunted WBA middleweight champion Marvin Hagler as a mere mortal when the two meet Nov. 10 at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas. Says Roberto, unawed as ever by the task ahead of him, “Just who is this Hagler that I can’t beat him?”
By now, they have probably reached their base camp at the foot of Mount Everest. And in roughly six weeks they hope to become the third team of Americans to scale the famous peak by the dangerous West Ridge route. That, in itself, is noteworthy, but what will put this ascent in the history books is the fact that, if successful, it will include the first American woman to reach the peak of the 29,028-foot-high mountain. (Marty Hoey of Tacoma, Wash, almost accomplished this feat last year, but she fell to her death when a buckle on her harness slipped.) Says Dr. Susan Buren, 32, one of six women on the 13-member expedition: “Being a member of a mixed team is as important to me as reaching the summit.”
The stated purpose of the President and Mrs. Reagan’s two-week trip to the Far East beginning Nov. 2 is to conduct important business in such capitals as Seoul, Bangkok, Tokyo and Djakarta. But a proposed two-day layover in Manila, which is officially little more than a rest stop, may get most of the attention. The reason: Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos, known for lavish entertainments and overnight constructions, is pulling out all the stops to entertain the Reagans. (She and Nancy met in the White House last year to plan, according to one source, “every bracelet, every pair of wedgies.”) The Reagans will drive from the airport along a road completely reconstructed for the visit; workers have installed all new, antique-looking lamp posts, paved the sidewalks with cobblestones and planted flowering bougainvillea. At Malacañang Palace, their private, 15-room quarters will include two swimming pools and a beauty parlor. Nearby, Mrs. Marcos is building a park which she will name after the Reagans. That these projects will cost roughly $1 million (in a country where the average income is $781 a year) doesn’t surprise Imelda’s critics. Says one opposition leader, “We don’t call her Eva Perón for nothing.”
Linda Ronstadt proved her career chutzpah with The Pirates of Penzance, and this fall she travels even further afield from her pop base. This time she’s trying classical music on for size. Linda will make her debut as a diva in the opera La Bohème around Christmas at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater in New York. Meanwhile, Ronstadt’s album of pop standards from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s What’s New will be out next month. At the same time she will be doing live concerts in New York and L.A. with Nelson Riddle and his 45-piece orchestra behind her…Also watch for: new albums from the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, the Moody Blues and—drumroll, please—the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.
Watch out—it’s a jungle out there. This season such top U.S. designers as Bill Blass and Perry Ellis are stalking the marketplace with the sleekest cat prints around. And from early reports they’ve got a winner by the tail. It’s hard to pinpoint where this trend began. Maybe last year’s Broadway hit Cats stirred up 7th Avenue designers. Advanced punkers may have had a paw in it, too. Either way, the wild bunch is wrapping up in everything from cheetah bodystockings to ocelot anklets. “People used to think that jungle prints were cheap,” exclaims Donna Karan of Anne Klein. “Not so. They are sophisticated and sensual, and this year they are really hot.”
There will be more than enough time to light 100 candles for New York’s Metropolitan Opera while catching its Centennial Celebration on PBS Oct. 22: The performance, marking the birthday of the world’s leading opera company, will last for eight hours. Everyone who’s anyone in opera is planning to be in the aria that night—Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Leontyne Price, Joan Sutherland, Robert Merrill, Kiri Te Kanawa and Leonard Bernstein, just to name a few.
It’s a tad early for deification, but it’s no exaggeration to say that John Elway has raised the expectations of Denver Broncos fans at least a mile high. Within five minutes of entering his first exhibition game, Elway, 23, had carried the Broncos to their first touchdown of the season, and fans were calling his five-year, $5 million contract a bargain. “Steve DeBerg is still the starting quarterback,” Coach Dan Reeves insisted. Yeah, sure, Dan. Come Sept. 18, when the Broncos line up for their first offensive play in their season opener with the Philadelphia Eagles, you can bet DeBerg will be on de bench, and young John will be at the helm.
Like Ken, Barbie, R2D2 and even E.T before them, the Ewoks are destined to join the detritus of Christmases past. But when it comes to Christmas present, nothing is likelier to fly off the shelves than those fuzzy scene-stealers from Return of the Jedi. And Christmas future? Well, we’ll get to that in next year’s Fall Preview.
She’s rich, her father owns the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL—and maybe a quarter of Canada. She’s gorgeous—5’5″ and 105-pounds, with hair like braided sunlight and the kind of legs that make cars jump curbs. She’s a model—just signed with Manhattan’s top-of-the-line Ford Agency. She’s a movie star—had the juvenile lead in a feature called Spring Fever. She also plays a pretty fair game of tennis; in the last eight months she has risen from nowhere to number 22 in the world rankings. Next week she enters her first U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., and more than a few leading ladies on the tour are wondering which one of them will fall prey to her skills.
Who is this wonder woman? Her name is Carling Bassett, and what’s truly wondrous is that she isn’t a woman at all. She’s a 15-year-old girl, the latest in a succession of teen tennists. “Darling Carling,” as the headline hackers call her, has a girlish zest for the game, coupled with an honest loathing for some of the physical work involved (“God, are those weight machines boring!”). But she loves “the feeling you get when you hit a great shot you couldn’t have made a year ago,” and above all, she loves to win. “You bet I want to be No. 1!” bubbles Carling, “and in a couple of years I’ll know if I can be.” In a couple of weeks we’ll see how far she’s come already.