Joe Mantegna received an ambiguous—and unsettling—message from director Gregory Mosher before winning a lead in David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Glengarry Glen Ross, Then appearing opposite C.J. the orangutan, in the shortlived TV series Mr. Smith, Mantegna was thrilled to get a call from Mosher—until he heard the director's plan. "We haven't decided whether we want to use stars in this play or not," Mosher explained. "So basically we're offering this role to three people: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and you."
With two smallish co-stars (Burgess Meredith and Dudley Moore), a short director (Jeannot Szwarc), a short producer (Ilya Salkind) and 300 short men dressed as elves waiting in the wings, the set of the $48 million flick Santa Claus—The Movie was the best breeding ground for short jokes since The Wizard of Oz. Though 5'2" Dudley claims to be fed up with that type of humor, he still kids, "I didn't have to prepare much to play an elf. I was offered the part of Attila the Hun, but it was too much of a stretch." Without meaning to add to the jokes, co-producer Pierre Spengier explained one casting decision: "Dudley Moore is the only actor of stature who could play this part." At least Dudley, as head elf, found some satisfaction in the fact that Santa's helpers fit into two categories: Moore or less. "It's the first time," he says, "that I've looked down on everyone on the set."
Residents of Forbes Lake of the Ozarks, a new community near Warsaw, Mo., won't live on such traditionally named streets as Oak or Maple. Developer Malcolm Forbes, who bills his family-owned magazine as the "Capitalist Tool," named many of his streets after famous capitalists. Home buyers can choose such locations as Charlap Lane (named for E. Paul Charlap, chairman of the Savin Corporation), Araskog Drive (for Rand V. Araskog, chairman of ITT) or Straetz Drive (for Robert P. Straetz, chairman of Textron Inc.). Forbes also named streets for his five children and at least one friend: Off the main drag, Forbes Road, is a curving byway called Nancy Reagan Circle.
Don't kid with the folks Down Under. As producer Allan Carr attests, Australians don't always know a joke when they hear one. At the dedication of the Cary Grant Theatre in Culver City, Calif., Carr kiddingly introduced Rod Stewart's ex, Alana, as "my future wife." Australian journalists read the remark and wouldn't let Carr forget it when he visited Sydney last month. Again and again reporters asked him if he and Alana planned to wed anytime soon. "The only way I could stop the questioning," says Carr, "was to tell them that if Alana gets enough alimony from Rod, I'll consider it."
Walter Cronkite couldn't get the elevator at New York City's Parker Meridien Hotel to stop on the third floor, where he was due at a bash honoring Lee Iacocca. What went wrong? Cronkite isn't sure. "The elevator," he remarked, "doesn't talk to me like a Chrysler."
Speaking to acting students at a forum sponsored by the American Theatre Wing, the group that bestows the Tony Awards, Frank (Dracula) Langella proffered this advice: "Act in spite of your neuroses, not because of them."