July 03, 1989 12:00 PM

BEAT IT

Four months after Michael Jackson gave him his walking papers, ex-manager Frank Dileo, below, has surfaced minus his trademark ponytail. He’s in New York, where he’s making his acting debut as a Mafia under-boss in director Martin Scorsese’s Good Fellas, which stars Robert De Niro. “The irony is very sweet, isn’t it?” asks Dileo, who reached an out-of-court settlement with Jackson for an undisclosed amount last April after reportedly threatening to sue the singer for breach of contract. “Here Michael desperately wants to do movies now, and I’m beating him to it, no less with De Niro and Scorsese.”… More on Michael: His menagerie is growing. Recently, a Wichita, Kans., zoo sold a baby giraffe, Mahali, to an animal dealer who, in turn, sold it to Michael for a reported $15,000.

TEACHING WITHOUT A DEGREE

In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, there’s a scene in which archaeology professor Harrison Ford tells dreamy-eyed coeds, “You want truth, go down the hall to Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class.” It just so happens that one William Tyree was Ford’s philosophy professor at Ripon College, near Milwaukee. “Harry and I were good friends,” says the now retired Tyree, 71. Ford attended Ripon for four years in the mid-’60s as a philosophy major, but he never graduated. “He was offered an honorary degree a year and a half ago, and he declined. I think in the movie Harry was sending a greeting to me and the college community. I thought it right that I acknowledge it, so I dropped him a note and said if the college renewed that invitation, he should reconsider and accept it.”

PLANE MAN

The plot-turning, four-minute airport scene in the Academy Award-winning Rain Man, in which Dustin Hoffman rattles off to Tom Cruise a string of statistics about airplane crashes, has been edited out of the version being shown on planes. “It’s our policy to remove portions of feature films as they relate to violence, nudity, obscenities or anything that could create discomfort for passengers about being on airplanes,” says Patricia Graham, United Airlines’ in-flight programming manager. But Ronald Bass, who co-wrote Rain Mans screenplay, thinks that the airlines are just calling attention to the scene by deleting it. “I think the airlines irritate more people by this kind of over-protectiveness,” he says. “I don’t know if it’s so great to watch the film without that scene, because it explains a lot of things: why [Hoffman and Cruise] are driving across the country, and why [Cruise] suddenly is not so cavalier with [Hoffman].” Graham defends the airlines, saying, “Our editing requirements are even more rigid than those for network television. You can’t turn it off or leave the room.”

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