Vatican Vanity
During the taping of an upcoming Merv Griffin Show, guest William F. Buckley Jr. was discussing the pilot of a TV documentary series on religion he'd just completed at the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. "Did you get to meet the Pope?" asked Merv. Yes indeed, responded the irrepressible Buckley. "I told him I was getting used to having my own private chapel next to his, he mumbled something in Polish and I was quickly ushered out."

Barre Gaffe
Ali MacGraw has a surprising new off-camera role. Although she admits to having been "outstandingly dreadful" in her own ballet class at age 8, Ali was appointed to the board of New York's Joffrey Ballet. But her fame hasn't quite jetted over the cultural gap. When MacGraw turned up at rehearsal not long ago, one young male dancer executed a faux pas de deux, gushing to the new board member: "You've always been my favorite actress, Miss Bergen."

Ford Is Her Future
In the just-published Charlotte Ford's Book of Modern Manners, the author gives a prospective bride several options on how to handle her future surname, such as keeping her own or going the hyphenated route. For herself, Ford says she has no intention of ever changing her name again, regardless. If she marries a third time, Henry's elder daughter emphasizes, she "would definitely keep the name Ford. I've changed it so often already [Mrs. Stavros Niarchos, '65-'67, and Mrs. Tony Forstmann, '73-78], it would be just too confusing to change again." Charlotte, 39, has even instructed her housekeeper to stop calling her "Mrs. Forstmann." It's Mrs. Ford, please.

Hiss Case
Ex-Yippie Jerry Rubin travels in pretty chic circles these days, including such formerly unacceptable habitats as Manhattan's Russian Tea Room ("Slightly to the left of Carnegie Hall," as it likes to advertise). But old memories die hard. Guests were recently jolted out of their small talk by a loud hiss. It was the former Chicago 7 member's salutation to Pat Nixon, wife of the President whose administration had pushed the prosecution of Vietnam war activists like Rubin. Pat, sitting with daughter Tricia, appeared unruffled.

Furthermore

•Mused Kenny Rogers, having bought the private jet of the president of Mexico to keep his country music entourage comfortable city-hopping on one-night stands: "It seems like yesterday I was having trouble talking my dad into buying me a bike."

•Faces at Virginia's exclusive Madeira girls' school are as bright as the red-leather-bound yearbook, which went to press before the death of Dr. Herman Tarnower. The dedication to headmistress Jean Harris, who is accused of shooting the Scarsdale Diet doctor in a lovers' quarrel, reads: "You have helped us to understand what it means to function in disaster and finish in style."

•Sylvester Stallone, a mere 5'9", seems to have become tired of looking up to Hawks co-star Rutger Hauer, a 6'2" Dutchman. Sly sent Hauer a pair of expensive boots with three-inch heels and a note that read: "Wear these and you won't look so damned short."

•After traveling for three days with John Anderson, his favorite presidential candidate, TV producer Norman Lear bridled at the suggestion that the campaign was supplying him fodder for a new situation comedy. "Are you kidding?" he asked, scornfully. "The whole process is a sitcom."