April 15, 1985 12:00 PM

Making the transition from jock to actor has been no small feat for 6’8″, 280-pound John Matuszak, former defensive lineman for the Oakland Raiders. “I’m in this big body the Lord has given me, so it’s easy to get typecast,” says Matuszak, who has thrown his weight around in such films as North Dallas Forty, Caveman and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Goonies. For a change of pace, Matuszak’s next role will be a gay short-order cook in a new Aaron Spelling pilot for ABC, Hollywood Beat. “My character is an ex-pro ball player who has come out of the closet and now runs a little restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard. He can swish with the best of them, but because of his size, you wouldn’t want to mess with him….” Size hasn’t hindered the career of 6’1″ German model Veruschka even though she has kept a low profile in recent years. She’ll play a snobbish countess in the upcoming Frankenstein movie, The Bride, with Jennifer Beals and Sting, and she portrayed Dorian Gray in an avant-garde remake of the Oscar Wilde story screened earlier this year at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Impersonating a man is easy, she contends. “I’m tall and have a great, deep voice,” Veruschka says. The tough part, she adds, is that “men walk funny.”

“The producer calls this show an equal opportunity offender,” says Patty Duke of her new ABC sitcom called Hail to the Chief in which she plays the first woman President. Chocked full of slurs guaranteed to outrage everyone from “homos” to “hymies,” the series “will make Archie Bunker look tame,” Duke says. “I’m amazed at how little the network has cut from the scripts.” Though there has been talk that ABC’s impending takeover by Capital Cities Communications, known for its conservative programming, might spell trouble for Hail to the Chief, the show’s creator Susan (Soap) Harris says, “My uninformed hunch is that things won’t change. There’s safety in offending everyone.”

First there was Roots. Now there’s The History of White People in America, a two-part Cinemax comedy special (to air in June) that will examine such ponderous issues as the use of mayonnaise by American WASPs. Martin Mull is the narrator-host, and Mary Kay Place and Fred Willard star….

Leave it to Beaver (a/k/a Jerry Mathers) to keep the Cleaver legacy alive. On the Father’s Day episode of the Disney channel’s Still the Beaver, Mathers’ 7-year-old son, Noah, makes his acting debut as a pint-size marathon racer who runs circles around fellow competitor Wally Cleaver (Tony Dow). “At the 24th mile, Noah zips right by him,” boasts Jerry. “Noah did such a good job, he might get to appear on another episode.” Pop doesn’t wholly endorse nepotism, however. Says Mathers, “I’m not going to have it written into my contract that he has to have a recurring role.”

Never mind that actor Val (Top Secret!) Kilmer flunked chemistry in high school. In his next movie, Real Genius, due out this fall, he plays a physics wiz and legendary prankster at a mythical college named Pacific Tech. To learn how real geniuses alleviate academic pressure, Kilmer hung out at Caltech in Pasadena. “They’re nuts,” says Kilmer. “One night a bunch of them decided to gather all the available macaroni in Pasadena. They loaded a couple hundred pounds of the stuff, with some explosives, into an old cannon and shot it at a rival dorm across the quad.” In a show of one-upmanship, Kilmer’s character in the movie fills a house with popcorn kernels and, using a laser, causes the corn and the building to explode.

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