In a not-so-friendly gesture, Harvey Publications, owner of the copyright to Casper, the Friendly Ghost, was booed right out of a U.S. district court in New York, along with its $50 million copyright infringement suit against Columbia Pictures. The plaintiff argued that Columbia’s 1984 Ghostbusters logo was a ripoff of Harvey’s hauntingly similar Fatso, a prankster from the Casper series. In dismissing the suit last October, Judge Peter K. Leisure, who conducted a spirited study of the issue, said, “There are only very limited ways to draw the figure of a cartoon ghost.” Harvey has appealed the ruling. Declared President Alice Eigner, “We are mystified.”
As Erica Kane, All My Children’s delicious bitch goddess, Susan Lucci, 37, has been the people’s choice but, alas, never the judges’. Nominated for an unprecedented sixth Emmy award as Best Lead Actress in a daytime drama, the diminutive actress came up short once again. Lucci, who is said to earn more than $500,000 a year, is carrying on bravely. “There’s really no disappointment here about this,” says a network spokeswoman. “It is an honor just to be nominated.” Don’t believe it for a minute.
Three two-hour Love Boat specials are still to air, and then the ocean love-liner cruises into that profitable drydock known as syndication. “It was a dream show, an amazing success,” says executive producer Aaron Spelling. “It’s very hard for me to say goodbye.” In its 10 years, the boat visited nearly 100 countries and featured 1,200 stars, many of them out-of-work showbiz veterans. “In this town, once your tits and ass go, nobody wants you,” says Spelling. “We did.” The crew relished its global adventures, as well. “Bernie [Kopell, ship doctor] and I always knew we’d look back at this show as the best years of our lives,” says Ted Lange, who played bartender Isaac Washington. Hard to forget, too, will be the effusive welcomes in foreign ports. After dodging a mad crush of fans in Turkey, Kopell asked his local hosts why the show was No. 1 in that country. “They said everything on Turkish TV was so sad that they cried themselves to sleep every night,” he recalls. “With Love Boat, they said they could go to bed happy.” A noble feat. Bon voyage.
He was robbed
Pierce Brosnan, 35, first choice of James Bond producer Cubby Broccoli to play 007, became the angry victim of his own popularity on Remington Steele. The suave Irishman (spoofing with son Christopher, 12) had to quit negotiations with Broccoli because MTM, producers of Steele, wouldn’t release him from his seven-year contract when the canceled show was unexpectedly revived. After badmouthing MTM and the series, Pierce returned to work (a new episode airs in January) and accepted his fate. “He’s been quite philosophical,” says Richard Laver, Brosnan’s agent in Britain. “It was a huge shame, but what can you do?”
Burger King spent a whopping $40 million on a five-month advertising campaign that was focused on a mysterious man named Herb, the only person who had never sampled the chain’s burgers. Unfortunately the burgermeisters’ plan backfired: They were double-broiled by sagging sales and a beefy $100 million counterattack from McDonald’s, according to a Burger King spokesperson. The result? Burger King’s sales reportedly dropped 3 percent over the previous year in the months that the ads appeared. For actor Jon Menick, however, who earned nearly $100,000 as the nerdy Herb, the job was an entree to bigger things. He landed an agent in Los Angeles, other commercials and spots on Moonlighting and Twilight Zone. “I never saw a campaign that caused more of an uproar,” says Menick, 35, “though there were many that were more successful.”
The first movie to showcase that temperamental twosome, Sean Penn, 26, and Madonna, 26, was titled Shanghai Surprise, but the big surprise was how big a bomb it turned out to be. The $15 million film—Madonna was positioned as a missionary, while Penn played a fortune hunter—received mostly horrific reviews in America and England. The celluloid splat—it grossed an embarrassing $2.3 million in the States—was swept under the rug at HandMade Films by executive producer George Harrison. Like a true British gentleman, he refused to comment publicly on the disaster. Madonna was less tight-lipped, describing the ex-Beatle as “a sweet sort of hapless character.”
While on an official state tour of China in October with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, 65, proved to be a true ill-will ambassador. First, he called Peking “ghastly.” Then, in what he thought was a private moment, the Prince told a visiting student from Edinburgh that if the young man stayed much longer, he would “go back with slitty eyes.” The remark, repeated by the student to reporters, caused a royal brouhaha. Host and Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping was said to have been “quite furious,” and the Queen reportedly gave her husband the silent treatment. Back home, naturally, Fleet Street was licking its chopsticks over the blunder. Cartoons spoofing the Prince abounded, and some editorials proclaimed the remark racist. The last word perhaps went to the London Sunday Times, which called the tour “sweet and sour.”