January 29, 1979 12:00 PM

Billy goes straight

If the President can’t keep a rein on his brother says a friend, says a friend of the family maybe economic sanctions will shut his mouth. Billy’s improprieties and anti-Semitic innuendos during a visit by Libyan officials led the producers of Hollywood Squares to cancel five guest shots. But if his Nashville agent, Tandy Rice, is to be believed, Billy will be back in the showbiz saddle (presumably not the controversial one he received in Libya) bigger than ever. For starters, Carter debuts February 10 in a CBS movie, Flatbed Annie and Sweetiepie: Lady Truckers, playing a sympathetic sheriff’s deputy.

Updike’s grand tour

Author John Updike, 46, shuns New York because of what he terms “all that crap.” But he left Massachusetts (and his crusade to block construction of a McDonald’s on Martha’s Vineyard) long enough to catch pal Joel Grey open in The Grand Tour on Broadway. Later, at the post-performance celebration, he gave the star a copy of his new book, The Coup, the title of which, John inscribed on the flyleaf, aptly described Grey’s performance. Then, with second wife Martha, 39, Updike tried to duplicate the actor’s deft footwork on the dance floor.

Teddy bears down

After a hard seven months of one-nighters, soul singer Teddy Pender-grass enjoyed a different sort of gig at the Children’s Hospital back in his operating base of Philadelphia. He gave away toy teddys, signed the kids’ casts and mugged for their Instamatics, which left patients like Susan Groff, 16, feeling life is a song worth singing. By then mothers were clustering around the steamy pop star for cuddles and autographs, and it wouldn’t be Teddy if he didn’t take a turn, as the old line goes, for the nurse(s).

Frost nuzzles Agnetha

David Frost, co-producer and host of the UNICEF TV concert, A Gift of Song, threw a party of appreciation for the 15 big names (among them: the Bee Gees and Olivia Newton-John) who participated. No one’s nose except David’s was out of joint when ABBA’s songstress-sex symbol Agnetha Fältskog came up high on his pecking order. The group flew from Sweden for the taping at the United Nations and also made a gift of all rights to their next song, Chiquitita. So did the other 14 headliners, which should bring the cause muchos pesos.

McEnroe the Master

Whether it needed one or not, the tennis world has a new Jimmy Connors. He is New Yorker John McEnroe, 19, and, like Jimbo, left-handed and a bit churlish. He quit Stanford in June to turn pro, and promptly qualified for—and won—the Grand Prix Masters in Madison Square Garden. But Björn Borg and Guillermo Vilas didn’t enter that supposed tournament of tournaments, and though Connors did, he defaulted (after losing the first set) to John because of a blood blister. So the trophy was tainted, but not the money. McEnroe has pocketed almost $500,000 in his brief pro career.

Buchwald bumps

That odd couple at Manhattan’s New York New York disco were columnist Art Buchwald, 53, and painter Leroy Neiman, 52. “We wanted to express and reaffirm the values of our generation,” proclaimed Neiman, so they improvised a new boogie they dubbed the Macho. “But there was no choreography,” clarified Neiman. “We just bumped like linemen.” The two shed the cigars usually clenched between their teeth as easily as their inhibitions. But Buchwald came away from the excess with worse than Saturday night fever; he was bedded with a bad cold.

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