updated 02/17/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/17/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

DOWN ON ALL FOURS IN BEVERLY HILLS: If there's an award for dogged preparation, it has to go to Nick Nolte. Prepping for his role as a bum in Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Nolte forswore bathing and brushing his teeth for two months. And to prepare for the scene where he gets down on all fours and shares victuals with a pooch, he asked his wife "to buy me all sorts of dog food. I tried them all. Some didn't taste so bad; some were pretty salty." But Nolte became more finicky once the cameras started rolling. "The dog ate the dry stuff," he says. "I ate the meat."

TELL IT TO JOAN COLLINS: Launching a self-produced pilot called Charley Hannah, with a cast and crew that includes five of his children, prime-time veteran Robert Conrad is aiming for his seventh network television series. But the self-described "hot-headed, arrogant bastard" has no illusions about his medium. "We're all overpaid," says Conrad. "TV's a racket, not a business. I've done real work for a lot less money."

DOWN ON HER HEELS: Cybill Shepherd made fashion news of sorts last year when she wore a pair of orange Reeboks to the Emmy Awards. Lately, when Moonlighting's gumshoe has been dressing up, she's sported a pair of low-heeled, round-toed navy leather pumps that look like they belonged to Mamie Eisenhower. "It has to do with comfort," says Shepherd. "I had to choose between my feet and shoes, and I chose feet. I think women should be free to wear more comfortable shoes and not feel that to be sexy, they have to wear five-inch heels. Five-inch heels are fine if you're in bed."

HE USED PROLIFIC WRITERS: Bobby Vinton, a fave rave of the '60s, was recently dubbed "the most successful love ballad singer of the rock era" by pop historian Joel Whitburn. Vinton learned just how right the appellation was during a Cleveland concert, when he noticed a family of seven sitting ringside. Each child wore a T-shirt bearing the title of a Vinton classic: Roses Are Red, Blue Velvet, Sealed With a Kiss, Please Love Me Forever and Blue on Blue. Vinton stopped the show to ask the parents the significance of the T-shirts. "Each one of those songs," came the reply, "is responsible for each kid."

FOREVER YOUNG: Before leaving for the Orient to film Shanghai Surprise with Sean Penn, lucky star Madonna stopped off in New York to attend Yoko Ono's private dinner party honoring Bob Dylan. Wandering into the kitchen, she found David Bowie and Dylan chatting together. Returning to the living room, she reportedly blurted: "Thank God there's somebody to talk to in here—there are only old folks in the kitchen."

SMOKING GUNS: Actor Patrick Reynolds, whose current movie is the sci-fi Eliminators, is planning to write a book involving "heroism, blood feuds, murder, divorce settlements in the millions, political intrigue and international playboys." No, it's not a potboiler novel but a chronicle of his family—the R.J. Reynolds tobacco clan. "It's about the rise and decline of a family," says Patrick, who is R.J.'s grandson. "I think we need a happy ending, and I hope I'm it."

HE LEAVES NO STEPPING STONE UNTURNED: The way Philip Michael Thomas is carrying on, Webster's is going to put his picture next to the word "pompous." Unveiling a new line of $30,000-$35,000 customized sports cars called Machiavellis, promoter and part-owner Thomas turned up nearly two hours late for an introductory photo session. Offering no explanations or apologies for the delay, the Miami Vice star merely noted, "This is an exciting day. It marks another stepping stone in my personal success."

From Our Partners