As excitement mounts over Britain's forthcoming royal wedding, a flutter has passed through the land over the "regrets" of a prominent invited party. Romantic novelist Barbara Cartland, whose daughter Raine is married to the bride's father, Earl Spencer, has begged off, explaining, "I'll be 80 on July 9 and I feel the wedding is an occasion for young people." Instead, she will pass on her invite to her son Ian (his brother Glen had already been invited) and will probably spend the hours of the big event "doing a normal day's work"—with a brief break to watch the telly, presumably. Why would the queen of romance turn down the orange-blossom special of the decade? Her invitation, one of 50 allotted to the bride's father, did not come directly from the royal family. Maybe she doesn't want to get dressed up in all that trademark Cartland pink on what might prove to be a beastly hot day. But her reason may be a nicer one—she may feel she'd be one queen too many. Some royal-watchers think she fears upstaging the bride.
While off in Detroit at a fund-raising dinner, George and Barbara Bush had no qualms about leaving the vice-presidential mansion untended. "We have two very distinguished house sitters," he said, meaning astronauts Robert Crippen and John Young, in Washington to receive citations. The Bushes' visitors weren't just freeloading. They had taken on another mission: feeding the hosts' cocker spaniel, C. Fred.
All about Evita...
Poor Paul Stanley. There was Gene Simmons, the leader of Kiss, snagging first Cher and then Diana Ross. Pick-man Stanley's only celebrity romance had been with Cher's soap-opera actress sis, Georganne LaPiere. So when Paul was set up with a blind date, Patty (Evita) LuPone, he wanted everyone to know about it. Which he did by way of a Kiss-and-tell press release—that gratuitously added, lest his fans wonder, "There are no marriage plans in the works."
Clearly convinced that George Burns is immortal, Caesars Boardwalk Regency in Atlantic City has signed the 85-year-old cigar-chomping comic to a 15-year agreement for annual appearances. After that, Caesars wants one-year options on more appearances. Burns is not so sure. "At that point," he muses, "I think I'll give up show business and talk to George Steinbrenner. I don't think Reggie Jackson can last forever."
The screenwriters' strike has halted the Hollywood hustle, but some are glad for a breather. For instance, producer Garry Marshall tells of a pal who, prestrike, approached Gary Coleman's production company with a proposal for a TV pilot. The execs loved the idea but asked him to condense it for the benefit of their boss, who's 13. "It used to be you'd submit a story idea with a bottle of booze," Marshall says. "Now you have to send it with a wind-up duck."
•It's another typecast role for Madeline Kahn (The First Family, Blazing Saddles, Paper Moon). This time she's Emperor Nero's nymphomaniac wife in Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I. Only minimal progress has been made in the meatier-roles-for-women department, moans Madeline. "It's improving very slowly," she says. "We've come a short way, baby."
•Mike Nichols, who breeds Arabian horses, collects equine paintings as well. So when a New York gallery owner urged him to buy an abstract by Ellsworth Kelly (in the $60,000 range), Nichols retorted: "Okay, if he'll paint a small horse in the corner."