updated 06/20/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/20/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Playing It Straight
His career went into deep-freeze after he blew the whistle on the shady financial stunts of former Columbia Pictures boss David Begelman. But Cliff Robertson plans a full-force comeback with his new role on CBS' Falcon Crest. "Whether that power in the sky is God or Mohammed or Buddha or the Force or Alec Guinness, it reaffirms your basic belief in the order of things," says Cliff, explaining his ability to get back on his feet. "You know if you do what you believe is right, sooner or later it balances out." Would he go so far as to play himself if someone made a film of Indecent Exposure, the book based on the Columbia scandal? "I'm sure," cracks Cliff, "they'd say I wasn't right for the part."

Big Spenders
That nearly quotidian institution, the celebrity auction, just yielded $125,000 for Norman Lear's People for the American Way, a group he formed in 1980 to oppose vocal right-wingers. Debbie Reynolds' promise to jump out of a birthday cake mit song and dance brought $1,000 after Debbie attempted to buy herself out for $100. Helen Reddy auctioned a dress, and the highest bid ($1,000) came from ex-husband Jeff Wald. But Dom DeLuise got the prize of the night: Carl Reiner's toupee. Only $250. and useful too!

Love's Lost Labor
Over in England, just about everybody wants to know wherefore art a certain Romeo they read about in advance copies of Shirley MacLaine's new autobiography, Out on a Limb, which is slated for a July release. In the book, Shirley describes a leading Labor Party politician in the Callaghan government with whom she had a torrid affair in 1976. Then she drops clues about his identity: He has moist, dark eyes under a shock of thick hair, a frequent hole in his socks, a missing fingertip on his left hand, and a tall, massive frame. Shirley claims he's a composite figure and won't name names, at least not for a while. Unsated, the British press went right to the suspects, and they explained. MP Merlyn Rees, 62: "I'm tall, good-looking and I wear glasses, but I'm afraid I'm past it. I might have been in with a chance in 1941." MP David Owen held up 10 perfect digits, saying, "You can't put the finger on me." Former Labor Minister Roy Jenkins offered no such excuse. Visiting an Islamic mission in Glasgow, he removed his shoes before entering and revealed a gaping hole in his blue woolly sock. And now for the fingerprints.

Modern Times
Forget those visions of middle-aged hippies nibbling carrot cake on farms in Northern California. Now Stewart Brand and the laid-back crew who gave you the various incarnations of The Whole Earth Catalog plan to plunge full speed ahead into the world of high tech. Their next project, The Whole Earth Software Catalog, will compare and evaluate the various computer programs on the market in 1984. "The '60s bunch was really the first generation to embrace technology," says Brand. "We've been encouraging computers from the very beginning." All very well and good, but who would have thought the Brand gang's knowledge of floppy discs would whirl them into the Judith Krantz league? Their computer book drew a big enough advance—$1.3 million—to keep anyone comfortably down on the farm.

Different Strokes
Nathaniel Crosby, 21, younger half brother to Gary Crosby, 49, whose recently released biography makes their dad, Bing, look like some kind of ogre, throws some new light on Der Bingle's family life. Says Nat, a University of Miami senior this fall, "I don't really know what happened 30 or 40 years ago, but I can say that I had a wonderful dad." On the other hand, the youngest Crosby son adds, "Dad did beat me several times." Pause. "But only on the golf course."

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