05/28/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT
Mick Jagger has enlisted the help of New York Times pop-music critic Robert Palmer for his autobiography, due out next year. Jagger has been collaborating with John Ryle, deputy literary editor of London's Sunday Times, but needed some insight from Palmer, whose definitive tome, The Rolling Stones, was published last year. "I spent five or six sessions with Mick, picking his brain into a tape recorder," says Palmer. "A lot of interesting stuff came out, especially how he learned about black music and rock 'n' roll in his 20s when he used to sit around backstage with Little Richard and James Brown. They helped him with his singing and taught him showmanship." So it seems even maverick Mick needed lessons.
Former soft-core porn star Koo Stark makes her legitimate feature-film debut this summer in Electric Dreams, a love story about a boy and girl brought together by a home computer. Koo plays a soap actress who spends lots of her time trying to get her boy friend on the phone. Guess the Buckingham Palace switchboard is no longer taking her calls.
Bette Davis and John Ritter have first dibs on the lead roles in a two-hour movie now in development at ABC called Madame, based on a book by Patrick O'Higgins about cosmetics queen Helena Rubinstein. Davis, who last year had a mastectomy and a stroke, has not yet read the completed script. But, says ABC-TV executive Scott Spiegel, "We hear if she likes the script, she'll play Rubinstein. We've heard nothing negative about her health." Ritter would portray O'Higgins, the late Irish Guards officer turned secretary, who served as the elderly Rubinstein's companion until her death in 1965 at age 94.
Who says it's tough breaking into show business? Until recently Verne Williams, 48, made his living trimming cattle hooves on dairy farms, where for the past 20 years he also polished his routines as a barnyard comic. Then Verne decided to get into pictures, so he went to his longtime buddy Joey Skaggs, an inveterate hoaxer who has posed as the proprietor of a celebrity sperm bank and inventor of a cure-all compound made from cockroach hormones. Skaggs fashioned Verne's résumé after an FBI wanted poster with fingerprint classification and aliases such as Bull Dog and Grunt. "Résumés are so phony anyway," says Skaggs. The ploy worked. Three days after the resume was mailed, Verne landed the part of Mr. Z, a so-called "white Mr. T," in a farce, The Last Dragon, due from Tri-Star Pictures this Christmas.
If you take a close look at those cheering baseball fans in the stands of The Natural, you might notice something quite unnatural. Instead of hiring hundreds of extras for most of the ballpark scenes, the producers hired C. Taylor Kew, president of a packaging company in Buffalo, N.Y., to create more than 5,000 life-size cardboard cutouts. These were placed in the bleachers, with about 150 humans to animate the scenes. The cutouts cost $60,000, but they saved the producers a bundle on hot dogs and mustard.