We don't have any, ah, objections to soul food qua soul food—ah, what's in that dish? Wings and things? Ummhmmm. And these are collards? Yes, they look...interesting—yes, well...There was no verbatim transcript of the contretemps, but that was the drift of the Beverly Hills Hotel's reaction to the cuisine Aretha Franklin's uncle had hustled up for a little shindig. You can't carry any food into the banquet room, let alone barbecue. So, that sort of hog-tied Aretha's 35th birthday party, until she rented a hotel bungalow for a more intimate gathering and trucked the vittles over there. The overflow 300 guests partied in the Crystal Room, where the food was regulation hotel issue. Next time, the miffed singer warns, she'll throw the party down home.
Big House Blues
The Allenwood Federal Prison Camp was no country club, says ex-con Jeb Magruder, who did time there for his Watergate sins. In fact, despite Garry Trudeau's comic strip which depicted him enjoying tennis in stir, Magruder carped with a straight face that there was only one dirt court, and it was in rotten shape. As if that weren't bad enough, Magruder told a forum sponsored by the penal reform-minded Fortune Society, an inmate once pulled a knife on him when he changed the TV channel. "The only night the TV room had everyone in agreement," the ex-presidential aide recalled, "was when Nixon resigned."
Ex-cop author Joe (The New Centurions, The Blue Knight) Wambaugh can afford a mansion but won't be housebroken. With his latest best-seller, The Choirboys, he decided to write his own screenplay for the first time. Four drafts later, Joe reports, the producers "said it was perfect. They hugged me a lot. I've never seen so much love." But they "forgot" (i.e., refused) to send him a shooting script. Wambaugh cadged one and then bought a page in the trade papers to express his revulsion and demand his name be deleted from the credits.
He's cast in Mae West's upcoming Sextette, but in real life, freshly divorced George Hamilton is rebounding at 38 with his own quartet—"one for every mood. I've got a girl who's great at skiing, one who's marvelous with horses, another who likes to stay home and massage my neck—they're hard to find, those—and if I want to go to a party, there's always my ex-wife, Alana. Does that sound terribly selfish?" he asks needlessly and rhetorically. "Too bad. But if I'd realized that divorce would be this attractive, I'd have skipped most of the first course. I tell you, after all that bickering the silence is marvelous." It must sound equally golden to Alana.
If literary feuds were earthquakes, this one would hardly rattle a teacup in Bloomsbury, but it has exposed a perilous fault in the terrain of "ladies' fiction." British romantic novelist Barbara (The Slaves of Love) Cartland, 75, whose hymenal heroines have never in some 215 works felt the earth move, has taken on upstart challenger Jackie Collins, charging that her The Stud is "filthy, disgusting, unnecessary." "She strikes me as a British version of Mae West," ripostes the 35-year-old sister of actress Joan Collins. "Barbara Cartland hasn't caught up with the world of four-letter words. Women may have been passive virgins in the 1920s waiting for Mr. Right, but that doesn't exist for women today."
•"This is Jimmy Carter," said the voice on the phone at 8 a.m. "Do you still want me to teach today?" The President apologized for confirming so belatedly his date to take over the Bible class of Washington's First Baptist Church. But it was no problem. Replied regular teacher Fred M. Gregg Jr., an insurance exec: "Mr. President, you don't know how happy I am. I've had a rough week and haven't had time to study my lesson."
•A moniker for the five singing, dancing chicks who back up Gabe (Welcome Back, Kotter) Kaplan in his new nightclub act? No sweat. He calls them coyly the Five Sweet Hogs.