How could moviemakers compete with Star Trek, the TV cult classic that sticks out in the American imagination like Mr. Spock’s ears? For starters, Paramount poured $20 million into its upcoming film version—more than the total budget of the 79 epic TV episodes shot from 1966 to 1969. Part of that, naturally, went toward cajoling back Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock, and William Shatner, who was Captain Kirk. But the studio has added a pivotal Enterprise crew member: Lieutenant Ilia, a bald navigator. She will be played by Persis Khambatta, 27, a Miss India at 16 and, since her scalping for Trek, part of the disco glitterati. Her only problem: having to shave twice on a big day because of 5 o’clock shadow.
That’s Barbra Streisand, 36, and Ryan O’Neal, 37, sending each other not flowers but cauliflowers in The Main Event. “We call it ‘Glove Story,’ ” cracks the producer, Barbra’s man, Jon Peters, of the re-pairing of the old What’s Up, Doc? team. It’s her first movie since A Star Is Born in 1976 and the only comedy among seven ring epics on next year’s Hollywood card (including, naturally, Rocky II). O’Neal used to be a Golden Gloves boxer, but Streisand, who’s cast as his manager, is presumably saving her best blows for fixing up her and Jon’s third house, a Malibu ranch. “It’ll be,” Jon promises, “a place to live and work.” He reckons their careers demand 18 hours a day, seven days a week.
Rhinestone cowpoke Robert Redford has been involved mostly in range-roaming and ecological crusading the past few years. But with his recollection of the Old West, The Outlaw Trail, now in the bookstores, he’s back in the lavender sage shooting The Electric Horseman, in which he plays a rodeo star exploited by a conglomerate. The title is appropriate. On location the battery pack that powers the lights on Redford’s saddle and outfit shorted out and left the star sizzling. The Golden One was promptly given a fancy new nickname: Hot Pants.
Blood has always flowed like egos on movie sets—but this year the performers are really taking it in the neck. Studios are hemorrhaging Dracula properties. No less than five are in the works, with directors like Roger Vadim and Werner Herzog, and John Travolta’s name is inevitably being bandied about. The most toothsome Transylvanian of all, though, is Frank Langella, 38, who played a seductive count on Broadway and is repeating in the movie version co-starring Lord Olivier. “Dracula is always played as a black, evil ghoul,” he says. “I’ve tried to find the soft underbelly.” Location shooting in England is giving Langella and his wife of a year, former magazine editor Ruth Weil, an overdue honeymoon. Though he spent 16 months in the part (“It’s like a spaceship: you lose all sense of time and space”), Frank plans to return to Broadway. Not that he’ll escape the coffin altogether. He’s contemplating Anthony (Sleuth) Schlatter’s Murderer.
Kate Jackson yearned to play Dustin Hoffman’s estranged wife in Kramer vs. Kramer but, because of Charlie’s Angels, had to let one of 1979’s plum parts go to a Vassar grad who thinks making movies can be “boring.” At 29, Meryl Streep has a Tony nomination, an Emmy (for Holocaust), is being talked up for an Oscar as Robert DeNiro’s lady in The Deer Hunter and will appear in Alan Alda and Woody Allen films. “I’ve been working like crazy,” Streep admits. One reason may be a personal tragedy (her lover, actor John Cazale, died of cancer). This fall she married sculptor Don Grummer. “I had the Sunday off after the wedding,” Meryl says, “and not a day since.”
With much of the nation out puffing along the streets of San Francisco and everyplace else, Michael Douglas is hardly jogging on empty when he figures audiences are ready for Running. “It’s about a guy having to prove himself,” explains Douglas, 34, who’s not just producing (as in his Oscar winner One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) but also acting: He began training for the movie and is now up to nine miles a day. Michael is also producer-star of another ’79 property, The China Syndrome, a thriller with Jane Fonda. But his proudest co-effort is the one expected by wife Diandra. “I’m the only guy on the block wearing a gold chain with a pacifier,” he jokes. So much for what pop Kirk warned when Michael wed two years ago: “I’ll kill that s.o.b. if he turns me into a grandfather.”