Bette Midler has filed a lawsuit to the tune of $10 million against Ford Motor Co. and its advertising agency, Young & Rubicam, claiming they used—without her permission—a Bette soundalike to croon Do You Want To Dance? in a Mercury Sable commercial. Midler recorded the song in 1972 but doesn’t own the rights to it. Says Y&R exec Mark Stroock, “It’s not Bette Midler’s song just because she recorded it.” C’mon, Mark, it does sound an awful lot like the Divine One. “That’s all in the ears of the beholder,” he counters. So far no one’s heard from lawyers for Joe Cocker and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, other Mercury soundalikes.
Sly Stallone may have wimped out by not going to Cannes because of terrorism, but he’s standing strong at home. Sly wants to make sure his shoot-’em-up cop movie Cobra (wife Brigitte appears as a terrorized model), which opens Memorial Day weekend, outdoes that other potential megahit, Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis. To get the box-office edge, Stallone insisted that Cobra be kept to under 90 minutes, insuring one extra showing a day, while Top Gun logs in at 103 minutes. Very Sly.
Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon, who nearly drowned when his $1.6 million yacht, Drum, capsized last summer, failed in his attempt to win the 27,500-mile, eight-month Whitbread round-the-world race. Le Bon and a 16-man crew placed third in his division….
Billy Joel will be the voice of a streetwise dog named Dodger in Disney’s animated version of Oliver, out next year….
Princess Diana’s fainting spell in Vancouver worried Buckingham Palace officials enough that they ordered her on a high protein diet during her five-day visit to Japan.
“Madonna doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about,” says a friend of the singer, amid reports that the $15.5 million Shanghai Surprise, co-starring hubby Sean Penn and produced by ex-Beatle George Harrison, is a turkey. “She and Sean don’t see there’s a problem.” They may be the only ones who don’t. Says one MGM insider: “There is trouble with the film,” which was screened in rough-cut for dismayed studio executives. “But it is salvageable.” Postproduction work is still to come, and both Madonna and Sean “will have input in the editing process.” Good luck.
Miami Vice’s new wardrobe wiz Milena (Out of Africa) Canonero has been on a shopping spree in Europe, rounding up Italian designer Versace’s entire summer collection—about 200 pieces—as well as four $1,500 leather jackets and men’s and women’s outfits from Cerruti. But first Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas have to shape up. “They are both getting heavier,” says Canonero. “They look better with angles in their faces.”
Adrian Lyne, director of 9½ Weeks, has cast Michael Douglas as an adulterer involved with a sociopathic woman in the thriller Diversions. But unlike the controversial eroticism generated by Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke, Lyne jokes, “This movie will be very chaste. Not an inch of flesh will be shown. And the cast will be ugly and boring….”
Novelist Judith Krantz will have a cameo role in the CBS miniseries I’ll Take Manhattan, based on her best-seller. Producer-husband Steve Krantz simply couldn’t take the heat anymore. “I’ve denied her a part in all her miniseries—Scruples, Mistral’s Daughter and Princess Daisy,” he says. “She says if she doesn’t get a walk-on in this one, it’s over between us.” After 32 years of marriage, he had no choice. But, he warns, “It won’t be an Emmy-winning appearance.”
Stork watch: Hugh Hefner’s former Playmate Barbi Benton, 36, and hubby George Gradow, 45, a real estate developer, expect a boy in August. They’ve named him Alex….
June groom: Reza Pahlavi, 25, son of the late Shah of Iran, will marry Yasaman Etemad-Amini, teenage daughter of a wealthy Iranian businessman who lives in California.
Haute-glitz maestro Bob Mackie is pulling out all the sequins for Elton John’s summer tour. “This may be his last tour and he wants to knock ’em out with glitter and flamboyance,” says Mackie. Elton, 39, went bonkers over the Mackie creation Cher wore to the Oscars. Reports Mackie: “Elton told me, ‘I want something like that, but my navel isn’t as pretty as hers.’ ” Says who?