NEW YORK STORY
PAMELA REED, who stars as ROBIN WILLIAMS'S ex-wife in Cadillac Man and whose NBC sitcom, Grand, was recently renewed for next season, remembers days as a struggling actress when she once cried not into her beer, but her eggs. "I was really broke. I had three bucks, and I went to a coffee shop for breakfast, and there was this really surly guy behind the counter, and he started jazzing me, giving me a real hard time saying things like, 'What're you doing down here, slumming?' " says Reed, 41. "Finally he served me the food, and I was really shaky, and he says, 'So, what do you do for a living? Or did Daddy just send you money?' And I looked at him with tears rolling down my face and said, 'I am an actress.' And he said, 'Oh, man, I'm sorry. I didn't know.' I was about to leave before finishing my eggs, and he said, 'No, eat, eat. You've got to eat.' He felt so bad."

TAPE MEASURES
Can one of America's best-known film critics, GENE SISKEL, program a VCR? "No," says Siskel, 44, who with partner ROGER EBERT regularly reviews movies on the syndicated Siskel & Ebert TV show. "I have never successfully programmed my VCR, and I believe someone would make a great living if they offered to train people on how to do it for $15 a lesson. What I do is if a movie is starting in an hour and I have to leave my house, I start the tape and let it run." Siskel adds, "I may not know how to program a VCR, but I have been able to program my young daughters [KATE and CALLIE] to say, 'We don't like the [Ninja] Turtles.' "

JAIL BAIT
Actress CANDICE BERGEN has discovered that tips are included in her job playing ace TV journalist Murphy Brown in the CBS sitcom of the same name. Bergen says that several big-name newsmen have called to offer helpful advice on possible plots. "MIKE WALLACE said it would be good to have a journalist go to jail," says Bergen, 44. "He said, 'It's a thrill to go to jail. It's great publicity and a good last-ditch effort if your career is going down the tubes.' " Wallace's advice was heeded: Earlier this season Murphy did jail time after refusing to name a source. CBS anchorman DAN RATHER has weighed in too, says Bergen. "He suggested a show on dieting and hair color."

CZECH POINTS
Filming The Raggedy Rawney in Czechoslovakia in late 1987, before the country's Communist government fell, taught actor BOB HOSKINS about the Eastern Bloc. "There were spies everywhere," says Hoskins, 47, who directs and stars in the new antiwar film. "Our translator was a fantastic man. I'm used to speaking my mind when something bothers me. He said, 'Please don't criticize the country in front of me, because if I don't report you, someone will report me for not reporting you.' We finally figured out what to do. We would go out for a walk where no one could hear us so I could grouse." He adds, "It was extraordinary to be in a country where they don't make films for money—they make them to employ people. Nobody even gets paid overtime!"

THE FRIGHT STUFF
"I didn't know what the ramifications of success would be," says cartoonist MATT GROENING, 36, who created the hit animated Fox TV series, The Simpsons. "I've been successful in the past on some level. I have this comic strip called Life in Hell, which runs in 200 newspapers, and I get a lot of fan mail from generally articulate, literate people. And now I walk down the street and I see people wearing Simpsons T-shirts who I'm afraid might beat me up, so the quality of the fans has broadened. The people who are my fans now frighten me." And his favorite cartoon character? "Donald Duck," says Groening, "because he is very much in touch with his inner angry child, and I very much relate to that. JESSE HELMS would make a great cartoon character because he too is in touch with his inner angry child."