BRIEF ENCOUNTERS

If you thought Robert Altman's The Player and I he current Chaplin were cameo-heavy, wait until The Last Action Hero hits the multiplexes in June. It's about an 11-year-old boy (newcomer Austin O'Brien) transported into a movie starring his favorite action-adventure character, Jack Slater, who's played by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

According to a rep for the picture, director John MeTiernan (Die Hard; The Hunt for Red October) has already filmed the following Hollywood celebrities playing themselves: Hammer. Jean-Claude Van Damme, Tony Danza, Little Richard. Chevy Chase, Jim Belushi and Tori Spelling.

TAKE THE MAIL AND RUN
Most celebs employ secretaries to answer fan mail. Not Woody Allen. His 92-year-old father, Martin Konigsberg, regularly arrives at the Woodman's Fifth Avenue apartment in New York City with letters picked up from Allen's reps, along with a stack of fresh 8-by-10 glossies. After Allen opens the mail, he signs photos. His father takes the autographed cache back to the apartment he shares with wife Nettie Konigsberg, 84. Lately. Allen's mother has begun stuffing, addressing and stamping the envelopes because, says Woody's spokesperson, "she was bored and wanted something to do."

CASTING ABOUT

One of our best casting sources tells us director John Waters (Hairspray; Cry Baby) "got tired of waiting" for Susan Sarandon to make up her mind about taking the title role in his new spoof, Serial Mom. And we hear from another source that Sarandon "wanted more money than anyone wanted to pay her." So Waters recently approached Kathleen Turner, who agreed to play a stereotypical suburban mother who also happens to be a serial killer.

Turner, you'll remember, rejected the part of a hellish nanny in the upcoming sequel to The Addams Family (PEOPLE, Jan. 18). It's since gone to Toys' Joan Cusack.

IRAQNAPHOBIA?

It's been two years since veteran combat correspondent Peter Arnett became a household name via his exclusive CNN reports from Baghdad during Desert Storm. He quickly secured a six-figure advance from Simon & Schuster for his remembrances of the 17 wars he's covered.

Desert Storm topkick H. Norman Schwarzkopf has come out with his autobiography, It Doesn't Take a Hero, a best-seller since shortly after it hit the stores in September. So what happened to Arnett's manuscript, reportedly due last summer? His editor insists the book will appear this fall. But an S&S publicist notes that Arnett "hasn't finished writing it yet, and no title has been finalized."