January 27, 1997 12:00 PM

>Olivia Newton-John

RE-TOPPING THE CHARTS

Grease lightning has struck again. Not only was the 1972 musical’s Broadway revival a hot ticket, but “The Grease Mega-Mix”—a medley from the 1978 film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John—is a radio hit. Newton-John, 48, spoke to reporter Jeremy Helligar from the Malibu home she shares with her 11-year-old daughter, Chloe.

Why has Grease aged so well?

Everyone relates to the ’50s. And [Grease] has a great, happy feeling to it—the movie is like a cartoon, in a way. It’s gentle, and it has a kind of innocence we don’t seem to have anymore. But it’s also got a bit of naughtiness.

Like the latter part of your music career. How do you feel now about your super sexy ’80s makeover?

Grease gave me a chance to break out of my country-girl-next-door thing. But I never really felt the [sexy image] was me. I look at the picture on [1985’s] Soul Kiss and wonder who that is.

What do you think of Travolta’s recent success?

I’m very happy for him. He deserves it. He’s a wonderful actor, and it was just a matter of timing and getting the right roles again. I always thought he was great, though.

Why haven’t we heard any new music from you lately?

I’ve been concentrating on, first of all, being a mom, and then doing things to help the planet. I’m spokesperson for a group called CHEC, Children’s Health Environmental Coalition. We’re trying to get a law passed to raise safety standards to protect children. I think it’s really important, if you get to the stage in life I am, to give back.

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