Kenny Rogers knows when to fold 'em. The Gambler, who has spent about $20 million on L.A. real estate since 1980, is cashing in his chips. Rogers, who is said to have cash flow problems, got $5 million for his Malibu beach house, Casa Marianne, a present to his wife in 1980. And he is unloading The Knoll, his 35-room mansion, for more than $20 million. (The reputed buyer: 20th Century-Fox president Marvin Davis.) Now Kenny is looking to sell his Lion Share recording studio, where Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer have crooned, and the Rogers Entertainment Center, a Sunset Strip office building that was to have sported a bistro called Marianne's Garden. A spokesman for Kenny confirmed that too much of his money was tied up in real estate but insisted that Rogers—who spent $200,000 on his world hunger media awards last year—is "far from broke."
Now he tells us: After winning a gold medal at Sarajevo in the downhill, Billy Johnson admits, "I like waterskiing better. The weather's a lot warmer." Billy will show us the wet look by playing "a good-guy beach bum" in Prisoners of the Sea, a TV adventure film that begins shooting in the Bahamas in June.
Now that Carly Simon reportedly has separated from longtime beau Al (ex-Dynasty) Corley, he is out as the romantic lead in her new It Happens Every Day video. Instead Carly considered casting Matt Dillon, whom she found eating in the lower Manhattan diner where the video was to be taped. But figuring Matt, 20, to be too young, Carly, 38, settled on Richard and Paul Garcia, 34-year-old twins who own the restaurant. In the video, Carly steamily makes out with Richard, a model-actor with the Wilhelmina agency. Then Paul appears and Carly turns her attention to him. Seems like the next best thing to having Boys in the Trees.
The pect-acular man in the Soloflex ads, Scott ("No pain, no gain") Madsen, 21, will soon be flexing his acting and literary muscles. Two years ago Madsen, an Oregon farm boy, answered a newspaper ad for a male model with a gymnast's build (pay: $50 an hour). Since then he has helped sell thousands of Soloflex home exercise machines at $625 each. Now he's signed to star in Leatherboys, an independent feature film about a postnuclear-holocaust teen gang, shooting this June. Meanwhile Scott may follow in the sneaker-steps of Jane Fonda and John Travolta by penning a workout book for Simon & Schuster.
Gene Simmons of Kiss and Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics have teamed up for Wendy's first solo album, WOW, due out in late May. With Gene producing, Wendy lets out a heavy-metal shriek that one advance reviewer likened to "the armed forces of NATO on joint maneuvers." Gene, who breathes fire onstage, and Wendy, who destroys TV sets, met last spring when their groups toured the South together. According to Wendy's manager, Rod Swenson, "People showed up at the arenas with nine-foot crosses. Some were picketing him, some were picketing her and some were picketing both. That's when they realized the chemistry between them was right."
The Beatles suing Big Bird? Well, sort of. Northern Songs, the company that controls the rights to most of the Beatles' music, has gone to court against Distinguished Productions, the firm that makes Sesame Street's records. At issue is the song Letter B, an innocuous alphabet ditty on the top-selling Sesame Street album, Born to Add. According to the complaint filed by Northern—now owned by Australian millionaire Robert Holmes a 'Court—Sesame Street never asked for permission to use the song Let It Be, on which Letter B is modeled. So Northern won't let it be. It has asked for punitive damages of $1 million and that all unsold copies of the record be destroyed.
On Newsstands Now
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