CIAO DOWN: For her role as a 19th-century Russian soprano in Franco Zeffirelli's The Young Toscanini, now filming in southern Italy, the formerly plump Elizabeth Taylor gave new meaning to what actors call "sense memory." "Liz was so pleased with this part that she even agreed to put on nine pounds for it," the director says. "When I saw her in Los Angeles to complete our negotiations, she said to me, 'Look, I am a boy,' alluding to her slim, adolescent appearance after dieting. When I asked her to put on weight, she looked at me in the way that only she knows how and said, 'You are the only man I would do it for.' " Guess the opera's not over until the slim lady eats. [P] COMIC RELIEF: When singer George Michael's flight to Munich for a television interview was delayed, leaving a film crew waiting at his hotel, another guest offered to fill in. The unlikely substitute: Mel Brooks, who was in town to promote his movie Spaceballs and had overheard the frustrated crew at the front desk. "I appreciate Mel doing the interview," said Michael later, "but now he's threatening to sing my songs." Looney tunes, surely. [P] URBAN RENEWAL: Accused of being cutesy and too much like the girl next door, Pam (My Sister Sam) Dawber wants the world to know where she's coming from: Detroit. Dawber is one of several celebrity natives—including Lily Tomlin and Tom Selleck—participating in a national trade magazine campaign sponsored by the visitors bureau to lure people to Motown. In the ad, Dawber, the wife of actor Mark Harmon and a mom-to-be, says, "I know my image is vanilla." That's why she lets people know she's from the Motor City. "There's an attitude about the place, especially here in L.A., that it's very hip to be from Motown.... Nothing naughty, just a little, well, more interesting." [P] BLUEBLOOD REDNECK: Shortly after arriving in Nashville to raise money for the Save the Children Fund, Princess Anne spent only one hour at a lavish gourmet dinner hosted by Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter. The jet-lagged royal was curt the next day when asked by the press for her impressions of McWherter. "Do I need' to answer that?" she snapped. The gallant gov pronounced the princess "a splendid lady." He told the Tennessean: "I've entertained royalty and I've entertained rednecks, and they're all about the same to me." [P] STIRRING PERFORMANCE: To get a feel for his bartender character in his next movie, Cocktail, a romantic adventure, [CELEBRITY_LINK "Tom Cruise"] got on the swizzle stick and shook things up behind the bar at John Clancy's, a Manhattan restaurant, with co-star Bryan [F/X) Brown, 40. The outspoken Australian called the 25-year-old Cruise "a bleeping good actor who really knows his stuff, despite how young the bloke is." Yeah, yeah, but can he pull off an old-fashioned? Well, by all reports his first martini poured perfectly. Says Cruise, who flew with fighter pilots to prep for his role in Top Gun: "At least this time I'm learning something I can use if I'm ever an out-of-work actor again." [P] NUTS ABOUT HIM: Is actress June Lockhart permanently Lost in Space? "I have only one picture of a celebrity in my bedroom," says Lockhart, 62, who plays Martin Mull's mom in the upcoming movie Rented Lips, "and it's David Bowie. I hope someday to meet him. It's my number one goal." Yes, this is Timmy's mom on Lassie confessing to a crush on the British rocker. "He's an extraordinary theatrical personality," says June, who failed to get an introduction when she attended one of his recent concerts in Los Angeles. "These things happen when they're supposed to. I've certainly put out the message." And when she finally does get that introduction? "I can't imagine putting out my hand to greet him," she says. "I'd probably turn to peanut butter." And he'd probably eat it up. [P]