updated 02/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

HANDS DOWN, NOT OUT: After Prince donated $13,200 for the first mile, hundreds of potential corporate sponsors have stepped forward to show support for Hands Across America, Ken Kragen's ambitious effort to combat hunger in this country. But Kragen admits that until corporate heavies like American Express, J.C. Penney and Coca-Cola pledged helping Hands, the May 25 event, in which six million people are supposed to form a 4,000-mile-long coast-to-coast human chain, appeared shaky. Indeed, the biggest Hands fiasco occurred during the Super Bowl pregame telecast. NBC had planned to air a new music video featuring an 800 phone number and a special Hands song written by Marc Blatte, John Chauncey and Larry Gottlieb. But because of last-minute interference, only a truncated version of the video was shown, with no phone number and no music. Hands supporters Shari Belafonte-Harper and Barbara Carrera, with tape in hand, were yanked from planes bound for New Orleans. The interception play was called by Michael Jackson, who told Kragen that only We Are the World, the song co-written by Jackson and Lionel Richie, should be used in the Hands project. Kragen says that the project's USA for Africa governing board has since ruled that both songs can be used. But before the compromise was reached, Jackson insisted that Hands would be held to his music only. Denying that he was motivated by self-interest, Jackson said he didn't actually write "The World." "God," he reportedly said, "wrote the song."

WE ALL HAVE A CROSS TO BEAR: Dynasty's Gordon Thomson remembers when laughs were bigger than looks. Thirteen years ago, when he was appearing in a Toronto production of Godspell, Thomson found himself playing opposite such soon-to-be major funny persons as Saturday Night Lives Gilda Radnor and Martin Short, and SCTV stars Eugene Levy and Andrea Martin. That his co-stars would create comedic dynasties of their own, while he would become a face of the '80s, was predictable. "They got all the punch lines," Thomson says of his Godspell pals. "I played Jesus—a great role, but not a lot of laughs."

NEVER CRACK UNDER PRESSURE: Robert Stack says he'd like to resurrect Eliot Ness, the gang busting G-man he made famous in the long-running Untouchables series. "Raymond Burr brought back Perry Mason, so it may be time to bring back all the guys who never smile," says Stack. "We are the precursors of 'Go ahead, make my day.' People didn't want to hear Clint Eastwood sing in Paint Your Wagon, and they don't want to see me crack a smile. I smile off-camera; but when they start talking money, I frown. You can make good money looking serious."

BEDRIDDEN: Sometimes running with the Brat Pack is all fun and dames. Youngblood star Rob Lowe, who's made a face for himself in youth-sploitation flicks such as St. Elmo's Fire and Class, is planning to produce and star in a Columbia feature about first-wave rockabilly star Eddie Cochran. But Lowe says he expects the search for a leading lady to be long and excruciating. Remembering the extended search for a St. Elmo's co-star, Lowe says, "One day I did screen tests in bed. In the morning I was with Mariel Hemingway, in the afternoon with Diane Lane, and Phoebe Cates at night. It was very strange. I felt like I was committing adultery."

READ BETWEEN THE SHEETS: Jill St. John told London's Mirror that rumors of the death of her romance with Robert Wagner were greatly exaggerated. "When that kind of crap is written about R.J. and me, it just helps preserve our relationship. Some of those press clippings have been sent to us and we read them aloud to each other—usually in bed."

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