Take One

updated 04/14/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/14/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

C. Thomas (The Hitcher) Howell reportedly had second thoughts before accepting the lead in Soul Man, co-starring Rae Dawn Chong and James Earl Jones. It seems the movie is a black comedy in more ways than one. Howell will play a Harvard Law School student who takes an experimental suntanning pill that darkens his skin, enabling him to qualify for a minority scholarship. Initially Howell was concerned that a change of skin color wouldn't make him look black. But when a makeup artist also altered his features, Howell was satisfied with the transformation.

Carrie Fisher is working on her humor book, called Money Dearest, which—besides her favorite subject—covers "relationships and drugs." Fisher says both are addictive. "Most people I know go through withdrawal when a relationship ends." Carrie also makes light of her split from Paul Simon. Jokes the daughter of Eddie Fisher, "I have a real Oedipal thing—I love short Jewish singers." Director Bob (Porky's) Clark is taking over the reins of Greenwich, the movie John Travolta had planned for his directorial debut but dropped, reportedly because he wanted to get more acting experience first. Travolta will follow up the widely panned Perfect with Public Enemy, a comedy with Whoopi Goldberg that bears no resemblance to the Cagney classic....

Word is Mike Nichols will direct his first music video, with Carly Simon performing one of the songs she wrote for the Meryl Streep-Jack Nicholson comedy Heartburn....

Jennifer O'Neill is back in the saddle (after the cancellation of her CBS series Cover Up) with plans to produce, direct, score and star in a movie called Now, Mine. O'Neill will play a retired equestrienne who returns to competition at the urging of her teenage daughter. A prizewinning rider, O'Neill will perform her own stunts.

Christopher Penn and Lori Singer play delinquent drifters in the movie USA Today—a tentative title ever since the newspaper of the same name sent a "letter of inquiry" to the producers. "It's not a wholesome youth picture," says an insider, so the producers agreed to change the title before the film's release this fall. Don't suppose the Christian Science Monitor is interested.

Actor Brian Kerwin, last seen seducing Sally Field in Murphy's Romance, prefers class to cash—or so he says. Kerwin turned down a two-year stint (at nearly $20,000 per episode) on CBS' Falcon Crest and a megabuck offer to star in ABC's miniseries War and Remembrance, the sequel to Winds of War. "I told my agent I don't want to be considered a TV actor," says Kerwin, whose next role isn't exactly King Lear. Try King Kong: He'll play an Indiana Jones-like adventurer in Dino De Laurentiis' King Kong Lives. Kerwin says of the script, "It's got joy, humor, sorrow and tragedy."

Scheduling conflicts forced Chicago Mayor Harold Washington to refuse cameo roles in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, starring Matthew Broderick, and Native Son, with Geraldine Page, Matt Dillon and Oprah Winfrey. Both movies were filmed in the Windy City. "He was very disappointed," says an aide. "The Mayor has more film offers than he can handle, and he's looking for an agent."

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