A WHALE OF A MISUNDERSTANDING: When director Terry (Brazil) Gilliam sent a letter to British stage schools looking for a girl for his new movie, the former Monty Python animator specified, "Wanted: a not too cute 5-to-10-year-old white girl, not too heavy accent, who'd be able to cope with considerable dialogue. Must have no fears of 50-foot giants and being swallowed by a whale." Clear enough, it would seem, but no. The request reached a school in the North of England, where someone took a look at Gilliam's distinctive "Pooh Pooh Films" letterhead and called the local vice squad, thinking it was a cover for a kiddie-porn organization. Everything checked out, of course, and Gilliam, who's still looking for someone to play the part, says he won't consider changing the name of his company. He told the London Standard, "I just love watching lawyers and accountants sitting down and discussing seriously Pooh Pooh pictures and Pooh Pooh products."
ALL THAT BROKE WAS THE NEWS: Melanie Griffith, 29, says she went wild when she was offered the lead in Something Wild, in which she takes a straitlaced yuppie exec, played by Jeff Daniels, on an outlandish adventure. "I'd always wanted to work with Jonathan Demme," says Griffith of the director. "I'd seen Melvin and Howard and Stop Making Sense. When Jonathan called me I was at home—nine months pregnant. Fortunately the only thing I dropped in my surprise was the phone."
NO NUKES, FOR THE FUN OF IT: In a newly released book, Voices of Survival in the Nuclear Age, Dudley Moore takes an uncharacteristic serious turn. Moore told the London Sunday Telegraph, "It isn't really me. I don't want people to think I've suddenly gone politically nuts." The impish actor joins such heady heavies as Andrei Sakharov, Pope John Paul II and the Dalai Lama in proposing creative answers to the threat of nuclear annihilation. Moore's reason for rallying around the antinuke crusade may be the most original. "I'm just the same as I always was, an unreformed hedonist," insisted Dudley. "Maybe that's why I'm doing it, because I'm frightened there's going to be no hedonism for us to have."
DON'T FORGET SHARP PENCILS: At a hospital fund raiser at New York's F.A.O. Schwarz toy emporium, conservative columnist and author William F. Buckley may have revealed the roots of his rapid-fire, ruthless way with words. Asked by a reporter about his favorite toys as a child, Buckley recalled playing with "anything that could kill people—guns, grenades." Concerned that her husband might be shooting off his mouth, Buckley's wife, Pat, intervened. "Oh, don't use that," she told the interviewer. "Just say teddy bears were his favorites."
ONE HANG-UP SHE CAN'T FIGURE OUT: It's hardly a surprise that Ann Landers, having given tightly written advice for 31 years, can boil down her readers' problems into epigrams: "The poor," she explained to a business group in Miami, "wish to be rich, the rich wish to be happy, the single wish to be married, and the married wish to be dead." Landers, 68, also disclosed that "When I die, I'm going to leave my body to Harvard Medical School," where she is on the board of overseers. "The problem is," she joked, "some of the doctors want it now." And what advice has generated the largest response? It concerned a question on how to hang toilet paper—whether it should hang to roll down the wall or roll down the front. "Would you believe 15,000 people wrote to me on this subject?" marveled Landers, who changed her response twice based on readers' letters and still won't take a stand.