October 23, 2000 12:00 PM

When He-Man Meet G-Men

Movie violence? Congress wants action; what do action heroes want?

Focus

Prompted by a scathing Federal Trade Commission report that skewered the entertainment industry for marketing violence to children, presidential candidates, congressmen and showbiz executives have been busy pointing fingers and proposing solutions. Does the furor have Hollywood action stars shaking in their combat boots? Scoop asked some big-league tough guys to weigh in.

“It’s the parents’ responsibility to control what their children see,” says Terminator’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, who believes politicians are unfairly blaming Hollywood. “An R-rated movie inappropriate for a child to watch.” And when the parents aren’t around, he says, after-school programs and sports activities—not government restrictions—should keep kids away from the rough media.

Comrade-in-Uzies Sylvester Stallone sees “a happy medium” in self-restraint. “What really bothers me is when you do a scene and you have your good guy and your bad guy. Then all of a sudden 14 bystanders get hit, and we never even relate—just add another person to the body count,” says the star of the infamously bloody Rambo trilogy. “I think that’s gratuitous and wrong.”

Hong Kong kung fu hero Jackie Chan believes film stars have to pitch in to protect kids. “We do have a responsibility to society,” says Chan, who draws a distinction between his brand of elaborate martial arts choreography and the indiscriminate spraying of bullets that pervades many American action films. “I make art. It’s like dancing. I fight everybody, but at the end everybody is standing. You never see a gun blowing a guy’s head off.” He also tries to send positive messages by, for example, having his character pick up litter from the street and never showing people smoking. “I love action,” says the star of The Legend of Drunken Master, set for U.S. release Oct. 20, “but I hate violence.”

Oxford Calls On Dr. Love

The poet W.B. Yeats, the statesman David Lloyd George and the Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu are among the respected orators who have graced the halls of England’s prestigious Oxford Union Debating Society. Now another great communicator has been added to that august list: the ambassador of love, soul crooner Barry White, who addressed the society Oct. 9. Several hundred students gathered to hear the thoughts of the man behind “It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Next to Me” and “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More, Baby.”

What, young scholars wanted to know, leads to success in love? “It takes two to tango, two to make love and two to make a relationship,” said White. Any advice on how to treat a lady? “Treat her like a lady.” Sure, he talked about his favorite musician (Ray Charles) and when he got his deep, velvet voice (“I woke up when I was 14 and went to speak to my mother and scared us both to death”). But what the students really wanted to know was how one might approach a fine young lady if one were interested in amour. “I don’t have any pickup lines,” said White, who recommended an attitude that says, “I like the way you look, baby, and I would love to know you better.” Good advice? “I thought he was brilliant,” said student Elizabeth Hunt, 19.

POP QUIZ

with Charles Grodin

Charles Grodin joins the cast of Sixty Minutes II this month as resident curmudgeon, a role he enjoyed on two cable news shows following an acting career that spanned more than 35 films (The Heartbreak Kid, The Lonely Guy, Beethoven,). Scoop caught up with Grodin, 65, to discuss his move to network television.

Think you’re prepared?

Well, I went into cable specifically to do this kind of stuff. On my shows over the last few years I must have done 700 or 800 monologues, many of them 10 or 15 minutes long. So I don’t think it will be a huge departure doing a minute or two at the end of a show.

What will the challenge be?

Making it interesting to 15 million people.

What’s so appealing about the job?

I love the idea of just saying what’s on your mind. How many places can you look at a camera and say exactly what you are thinking or what’s bugging you or what you find funny or interesting or unfair or just odd about being human?

But in a minute or two?

What’s the great expression? A battleship of words to launch a row-boat of thought? I think what I have to say really can be said in two minutes. And I kind of prefer that because, you know, with people’s attention span you want to do it in two minutes—or even less!

Will people take you seriously?

The truth is, I’m a very serious person. I just happen to be a humorist. I’m involved in prisoners’ issues, and I sit on the board of a homeless organization. But I understand that when you want to communicate serious issues, it’s often better to come at it from a humorous perspective.

What separates you from a thousand other television commentators?

There may be plenty of people who say things, but I can only think of one humorist-commentator on television, and that is Andy Rooney. So for me it is a wide-open field.

Any worries that people might just see you as a grumpy old codger?

Well, I am 65, but I look young for my age, so maybe they won’t consider me a codger for at least the first couple of weeks.

Big Mac: A Child Star Is Reborn

Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin, now 20, is all grown up—and, ironically, tackling the role of a 15-year-old student to prove it. In Madame Melville, a London drama opening Oct. 18, Culkin is seduced by his teacher onstage. Offstage, he’s still separated from his wife, actress Rachel Miner. “I know that they talk occasionally, and I think it is true they remain friends,” says Melville producer Gregory Mosher. Otherwise, “he is getting fan mail, and people are nice to him on the streets.”

The Somber Side of Cher

Cher singing a musical tribute to Kurt Cobain? It’s right there on her new CD, the perhaps correctly titled Not Commercial. “The songs are really personal,” a Cher spokesperson says of the disc, which also contains “Classified 1-A,” an antiwar song penned by late ex-husband Sonny Bono, and “Sisters of Mercy,” about the time young Cher spent in a Catholic orphanage. “This is like Cher in the ’60s,” says the spokesperson. “It is totally different from anything you would expect.” Worth noting: The CD didn’t get major-label backing, so Cher will sell it on her Web site, http://www.cher.com, beginning next month. She expects to release a more commercial dance CD sometime next year.

Hollywood Scene-Stealers

Did you like Julia Roberts‘s chic Manhattan apartment in My Best Friend’s Wedding? So did she—enough to plunk down $25,000 for the set’s bed, lamps, tables, chairs, Indonesian shadow puppets and pink ceramic pig after filming ended. Hugh Jackman took home the razor-sharp claws he wore as Wolverine in X-Men to use as back scratchers. And Christian Bale persuaded the producers of American Psycho to let him have the Cerruti wardrobe that helped define his sinister character, Patrick Bateman.

There’s no use letting good props or wardrobes go to waste, say the stars, especially when you can get them for free. “Basically, I steal something from every show I’m in,” says Patti LuPone. “I have a theater museum in the basement of my country house.” She treasures her pregnancy pad from Life Goes On and red shoes from Anything Goes, noting, “They all have sentimental value.”

Linda Lavin, currently rehearsing for Broadway’s The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, got her kitchen cabinets while making the TV movie Best Friends for Life in Charlotte, N.C. “I negotiated with the guy who made them on the set,” she recalls. “He said, ‘Okay, $1,300.’ ” And now? “Whenever I’m in that kitchen, I think of Charlotte.”

Devil with a New Dress On

One sign of improving gender equality: More women are going to hell these days. On the big screen, that is. The role of the devil has long been the province of male actors. (Think Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate, Robert De Niro in Angel Heart, Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick.) But this month Elizabeth Hurley stars as a seductive Satan in the remake of Bedazzled. And teen queen Jennifer Love Hewitt (Party of Five, I Know What You Did Last Summer) just signed to portray Lucifer in a remake of the 1941 classic The Devil and Daniel Webster. Hot stuff!

ON THE BLOCK

ANTHONY’S ABODE

Soon Grammy winner Marc Anthony will be singing lullabies in addition to love ballads, and he’s relocating to deal with the change. He’s selling his Manhattan duplex apartment in order to move to “more of a family home” on Long Island, his spokeswoman says, because he and new wife Dayanara Torres are about to become parents. Anthony’s bachelor pad, a 5,000-sq.-ft. space located in the Ice House building in downtown Tribeca, has four bedrooms and an asking price of $3.99 million.

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