May 25, 1987 12:00 PM

Candidate Gary Hart refused to answer two very personal questions (Do you consider adultery immoral? Have you ever committed adultery?), and his non-replies helped lead to his downfall. But what about the press people who pose such questions? Granted the journalists aren’t running for office, but how do they react when asked, point-blank, those same Hart-stoppers? Read on. Mike Wallace, annoyed that he was caught off-guard, said: “Oh, Jesus. I’ll get back to you.” Later he called to say, “I just turned 69, and I’m very flattered by the question.” Ted Koppel refused to pick up his line, but issued this statement: “Not only will I not answer that question, I won’t even tell you how I vote.” Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko: “You mean, if I went out and messed around would I consider it immoral? Probably not. But if my wife did, then, of course, it would be.” To the second query, Royko replied, “I don’t discuss my private life, but if I run for President I will answer that.” NBC’s Connie Chung: “I’ll pass….

If this is a shoe on the other foot question, I think I have a run in my stocking.” George Will, of ABC and Newsweek: His secretary said, “We have a golden rule around here that we subscribe to. All questions have to be presented to Mr. Will or he won’t return your call….

What? I’m sure he wouldn’t dream of answering! Anyone who knows Mr. Will knows the answer to that question.” Click. Linda Ellerbee: “To question No. 1, I’m a reporter. I don’t make judgments. I just do my job. To question No. 2, as soon as I run for President I’ll let you know….

I would never have asked that question. It wasn’t intended to get an answer, but a reaction. This whole thing is more a matter of stupidity than adultery.” Paul Taylor, the Washington Post reporter who asked Hart the fateful questions: “Yes, I do consider adultery immoral. Why? I guess it was the way I was ‘brung’ up. The answer to the second question is ‘None of your business,’ which is the answer to that question except in the most extraordinary circumstances….

I’m not sorry I asked it, but it was a tough call.” Finally, on behalf of Heath Meriwether, executive editor of the Miami Herald, the newspaper that broke the Hart story, an administrative assistant said: “Mr. Meriwether will have no comment on those questions. The issue is closed.” So there.

In other news: There’s a hot car chase in Beverly Hills Cop II that won’t be seen onscreen. It seems that Eddie Murphy coveted the $74,000 rented red Ferrari 328 GTS he drives in the film. So much so that he refused to pose for studio publicity stills unless somebody gave him one to call his own. Murphy put the word out: No wheels, no stills; so there were no stills.

John Travolta tackled Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter. Now comes another unlikely choice to pull a Pinter: The Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox will co-star with Julian (A Room With a View) Sands in a TV adaptation of Pinter’s The Room.

Don Johnson’s presence in Hyde Park, Vt. (pop. 2,100) for the filming of Sweetheart’s Dance caused quite a flurry during the three-month shoot. Johnson was accused of snubbing some of the locals and of generally being antisocial. But what really offended townspeople was his wardrobe. For one snowmobiling scene, Johnson donned a pair of silver boots. Explained one resident: “Somebody finally told him that real Vermonters don’t wear silver boots.”

Minute Rice: Don Henley used to be best known as a member of the Eagles. Then came the saga of the telltale Hart, and Henley was named as a onetime boyfriend of Donna Rice. Well, let it be said that he is keeping his cool about the matter. At a party he threw (along with Jackson Browne) for a lawyer pal, Henley promised the 700 guests at his Beverly Hills house that “Donna Rice would not be a hostess at the party.” No word on whether anybody left.

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