Ah, the New Year at last! Bright hopes, gaudy promises, a chance to shed bad old habits and embark on glittering new lives. For some, it's a chance to take a chance on love. For others, it may be a good time to try Plan B (or C or D), drop back 15 yards and punt for the divorce court end zone. A modest prediction: Ministers, priests, rabbis and justices of the peace, all the people who perform marriages, will do well in 1987. Divorce lawyers will not starve either. So, for incurable romantics and wounded skeptics alike, here's a guide to the couples—and uncouples—of the year.

Johnny Carson's Maas appeal
They met, according to legend, when he spotted her on the beach in Malibu, wearing a mini-bikini and carrying an empty wine glass. Even though her cups runnethed over, he offered to fill her glass. Since that moment four years ago, Alexis Maas has been Johnny Carson's permanent guest star. Maas, 35, was a secretary when she met Carson, 61. At the time Maas was "a very casual, unaffected, California type of girl," says a friend of Carson's. Now "she looks like a refugee from a Linda Evans clone factory." Today Maas lives in an exclusive. Wilshire Boulevard condo, reportedly purchased by Carson. A few weeks back Johnny (whose previous wives were named Jody, Joanne and Joanna) announced plans to make Alexis the fourth Mrs. C. So, after years mired in the middle of the alphabet, Johnny has finally made it to the "A" list.

Priscilla Presley finds a Rio man
She was 14 when she met Elvis. Now those digits are reversed, and the King has been dead for almost a decade. For Priscilla Presley, it's time to get on with her life, and her current companion of choice is a Brazilian writer-director named Marco Garibaldi, 31. Priscilla and Marco met two years ago, and they've been living together in her Beverly Hills home for most of that time. They're being coy about wedding plans, although their baby is due early in 1987. Baby-sitting shouldn't present a problem; the newborn's half sister, Lisa Marie, 18, will be available.

Chris and John's service break
Mixed doubles can put a strain on any marriage, but you would think tennis players of Chris Evert's and John Lloyd's caliber could rise above the problem. Apparently not. So far, all they're admitting to is a separation, the second in their nearly eight years of marriage. In the past Chris has owned up to two affairs, one of which was with British rocker Adam Faith. Chris, who was seen with actor Judd Nelson in New York a few weeks back, says the separation is amicable and that divorce "hasn't been discussed." John, 32, has been ranked as high as No. 24 in the tennis world, and Chris, also 32, is currently No. 2, with lifetime earnings in the $7 million range. So he's game, she's set—but it looks like this match is going to a tiebreaker.

Crowning a new King for a Dey
On L.A. Law, her wedding was undermined by gorilla tactics, in that Harry Hamlin showed up in an ape suit to snatch her from the altar and into his own strong—but sensitive—arms. In real life, Susan Dey, 34, is planning to marry producer Bernard Sofronski, 50ish, sometime in the spring. They met at a friend's house in 1983 and did lunch for two whole years before Sofronski, a divorced father of two, could get Susan to agree to dinner. They don't know exactly when the big day will be, since he's working on a mini-series about Napoleon and she's busy L.A. Lawyering. In the meantime, they plan to move into their new Beverly Hills home with Dey's daughter, Sarah, 8. Happy New Year, you crazy, impetuous, romantic kids. Or, better yet, have a nice Dey.

Joan Collins hasn't got a Holm anymore

"We were very happy together, and I treated her like a goddess. I'm still very much in love with her."
—Peter Holm

"I got married because I truly believed that this was a relationship that was going to last. I believe in marriage, old-fashioned marriage."
—Joan Collins

"I think she will have another husband soon. You see, I think my daughter likes lovemaking."
—Joe Collins, Joan's father

Joan Collins' belief in marriage, old-fashioned marriage, is being sorely tested these days. The 53-year-old Dynasty star is asking (through attorney Marvin Mitchelson) for a dissolution of her 13-month-old marriage to Holm, a 39-year-old Swede. Holm is a former pop singer who became a businessman. Collins claims he destroyed their marriage with some funny business involving her finances. Specifically, there's a small matter of $1 million that Joan says she can't quite put her hands on. (Holm denies any financial finagling.) During the course of her Holm-wrecking, Collins testified in court papers that wherever Peter goes, "He carries a two-foot-long padlocked bag. Whenever I ask him what is in the bag and why he carries it, he replies, 'Explosives and gold bars!' " Collins has already got a court order that keeps Holm at least 1,000 feet away from her home and her place of business, the Dynasty set. How did it all fall apart so quickly? Collins says that Holm just turned mean on her and her children. She says it got so bad she had to see a doctor about heart palpitations. Holm's fall from grace isn't exactly upsetting a lot of people. One of his former girlfriends, Shirley Coe, told the London Sun: "The only things he's interested in are money, sex and prestige—in that order. He's a greedy bastard and money mad." Joe Collins, 83, ever the protective father, said, "I never liked him from the beginning."

It's ex-miss time for Vanessa Williams
She's planning to get married this Saturday, so only a total heel would mention the photographs. What photographs? Who said anything about photographs? What a rotten thing to bring up at a time like this! And besides, that's all in the past. Okay, she was Miss America in 1983, then was defrocked for being unfrocked in the pages of Penthouse, but now Vanessa Williams is having a very traditional wedding at a Catholic church in Manhattan. "It's not a really big wedding," says Williams, 23. "I think anything under 200 isn't big, and I'm having 150." The groom is publicist Ramon Hervey, 36, who came into Williams' life two years ago. By their second week together, they were discussing marriage. They got engaged officially in October, when Ramon took Vanessa to a restaurant and presented her with an antique diamond in a Tiffany setting. "He gave it to me over my eggs Benedict," reports Williams, "then read a poem he'd written. I just started to cry and everyone at the bar started clapping." The bride will be wearing a dress with pearl-and-crystal beading that she describes as "medieval." Sir Ramon, your fair lady awaits you.

Melissa Gilbert has a Rob to cradle
Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert met on La Cienega Boulevard five years ago, when their cars stopped side by side at a red light. She had just finished shooting a dust-storm scene for Little House on the Prairie and was covered in muck. He was covered in anonymity, but was a pretty face, even then. Their relationship has had its highs and Lowes since then. On the down side (for Melissa, anyway) were Rob's romances with Nastassja Kinski and Monaco's grand prix, Princess Stephanie. Lowe's dalliance with Stephanie ended in November; a mere month later he was on bended knee to the fair Melissa. They picked out a diamond ring the next day. Lowe and Gilbert, both 22, have given the green light to a September wedding.

Light's out for Sheena Easton
One thing about rocker Sheena Easton: She knows when it's time to cut her losses. She and talent agent Rob Light, 29, were married less than two years ago, and already it's all over, except for the paperwork. "We are definitely getting a divorce, but it's on amicable terms," says the 27-year-old Easton, who wed for the first time when she was 19. That marriage lasted eight months. Let's just say that Sheena isn't exactly queen of the marital jungle.

Maria Burton goes home to Mom
Seriously now, would anyone expect the daughter of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to stay married till death did its part? Maria Burton, 25, married talent agent Steve Carson, 34, five years ago, and the couple settled in Manhattan. They had a daughter, Elizabeth, named after her violet-eyed granny. Occasionally Maria would go visit her mother for a week or two, leaving the baby with Steve. She also took off for Gstaad once in a while, leaving the baby with Steve. In November Maria went to see Mommy, but this time she took Elizabeth, now 4, and this time she isn't planning to come back. "Maria says she doesn't love me," says Carson, "and she wants a divorce." Take heart, Steve; divorce isn't always final in the Burton family.

Steve Martin's new Tennant
He was once a wild and crazy guy, but not anymore. Three years ago Steve Martin met actress Victoria Tennant on the set of All of Me, a movie in which Martin shared body space with Lily Tomlin. He had also shared his life with Bernadette Peters. With Cupid's arrow firmly through his head, Martin, 41, set his sights on Tennant, 36, and the two were married in a civil ceremony in Rome just before Thanksgiving. And so begins Steve Martin's Victorian era.

The Moore the merrier for Emilio
It's important to have priorities in life. Emilio Estevez and Demi Moore, who met two years ago while filming St. Elmo's Fire, had planned to get married in December. But things just didn't work out that way. First, the run of The Early Girl, an off-Broadway play that Demi was appearing in, was extended. Then the release date of Wisdom, which Estevez wrote and directed, and both he and Moore star in, was moved up to this week. Between wrapping up her play and promoting their film, not to mention preparing for last week's 25th-anniversary party for Emilio's parents (Martin and Janet Sheen), the would-be bride and groom were pretty busy, so they called the marriage off—for now. The year 1987 doesn't look too good either, because Estevez and Moore, both 24, have several movie commitments. How about '88? Well, if Emilio can switch that dental appointment to a Tuesday, and if Demi can get out of that lunch date in July....