People Staff
December 24, 1979 12:00 PM

After her debut with John Travolta in what became Hollywood’s biggest musical ever, Grease, Olivia Newton-John, 31, has a lustrous new name on her dance card: She will boogie with the master, Gene Kelly, in Xanadu. After spurning stacks of Grease-inspired scripts (including Can’t Stop the Music with the Village People), Livvy settled on Xanadu, an extravaganza that has nothing to do with Coleridge’s supposed opium dream; it takes place (where else?) in a fantasy disco. “She’s charming, lovely and a delight to work with,” says Kelly, 68, making his first musical in 20 years. “But I let the kids do most of the singing and dancing.” Newton-John recently split for the second time from Lee Kramer, which means that he’s just managing her work life. “But we are still the best of friends,” says Olivia. After all, Lee’s producing her ABC special this spring, helping her put together a club act and masterminding the release of a new studio LP. Along with the Xanadu sound track, that’s enough to keep any lady busy those summer nights.

Nastassia Kinski began acting five years ago, at 13, but already the long-limbed beauty is being compared to Bergman and Bardot. Marcello Mastroianni, her co-star in Stay as You Are, extols the “star quality” of the daughter of German actor Klaus (Nosferatu) Kinski. Roman Polanski, 46, calls her a “supernova” and gave her the lead in his new version of Thomas Hardy’s Tess (of the D’Urbervilles). “People had warned me about him and young girls,” confesses Nasti (as she’s known). “But he was always nice to me.” They were an item in the press anyway until recently when Polanski reportedly took off for the Himalayas—leaving Kinski in Paris to meet another mentor, director Milos Forman.

A long time ago in a Hollywood far away—well, 1977—George Lucas made Star Wars the greatest grosser in history ($420 million worldwide). On May 21, R2-D2, C-3PO, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader return in The Empire Strikes Back. “It’s like the second movement of a symphony,” says Irvin Kershner, who directs this time. Mark Hamill found it easier to mount a “Tauntaun” on the planet Hoth than to speculate about it. “You can’t try to top yourself,” he muses. “We’re taking a chance.”

Steve McQueen turns 50 March 24, which may be one reason why he’s back with a bang seven years after he made his Getaway. He first outhustled Robert Redford himself to film Tom Horn, a saga about a legendary cow-poke that will open around Easter. Then next summer he’s due in The Hunter, a tale of modern-day bounty chasing set in Chicago. McQueen’s professional revival, moreover, is accompanied by a personal rejuvenation that finds him off smokes and the sauce, shaved clean, flat-bellied and sans Ali MacGraw. His companion for over a year has been model Barbara Minty, 25, and McQueen splits his time between Trancas Beach and his Idaho ranch. “Steve has really found himself,” declares Mort Engelberg, producer of The Hunter. “He is a man at peace.” With a price. McQueen recently refused to even look at a script without a guarantee of $5 million up front plus a percentage. And even then he turned it down.

What’s so funny? Well, you see, summer campers Kristy McNichol and Tatum O’Neal have this bet over which will lose her virginity first. The teen sex issue will be one of the main movie themes of 1980, with Jodie Foster worrying about boys in Foxes and Brooke Shields learning about love in the Jean Simmons role, for a remake of 1949’s The Blue Lagoon. But McNichol, 17, and O’Neal, 16, play it for laughs in their collaboration titled Little Darlings. The property represents Kristy’s first starring role in the movies (she played Burt Reynolds’ daughter in The End) and Tatum’s first since the flop International Velvet. The two stars met at the producer’s house before signing the contract and “hit it off real well,” reports Kristy. Then they took off for location in the South. The young cast amused themselves by putting on a comedy revue one evening (McNichol directed). “I brought some friends along,” says Kristy, “and Tatum brought some friends, and it was all a big party.” That was fortunate, because, as McNichol points out, “There’s not too much to do in Madison, Ga.”

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