The producers of Warner Bros.' Little Shop of Horrors, the movie version of the musical about a man-eating plant that grossed an impressive $11 million in its first 10 days, seem to have had no qualms about making a major change in the off-Broadway hit that is the film's source. Onstage, at the play's end, the carnivorous plant (named Audrey II) finally devours the hero and heroine, played in the movie by Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene. Test marketing, however, indicated that the voracious finale was a real downer to teenagers; so in the movie Audrey II gets blown to smithereens and Greene and Moranis flit off to live in a suburban never-never land. To give you an idea of how much creative latitude there is in movies, at least in the planning stages, still another, even less appetizing ending was filmed in secret. In that one the famished flora not only survived but thrived, taking over New York City and threatening world domination. At the end, Audrey II was about to slurp up all the commuters on the Brooklyn Bridge. But at that point the moviemakers decided that was biting off more than audiences could chew, or at least stomach, and scrapped the idea.
In Native Son, the movie of Richard Wright's 1940 novel about racism, David (Sledge Hammer!) Rasche waived his TV salary, an estimated $10,000 per episode, for the chance to play a defense attorney caught in the middle of a murderous web of bigotry and extortion. Regarding the extent of his sacrifice, Rasche jokes: "They told me, 'You're not going to make much money on this thing,' and I said, 'Oh, so what?' Then they gave us each a dollar. It was unbe-liev-able!" That's not literally true, but co-stars Geraldine Page, Matt Dillon, Elizabeth McGovern, Carroll Baker and Oprah
Winfrey all were paid far less than they normally get. Rasche says there are some surprising advantages in an all-star cast working for peanuts: "When no one makes any money, no one complains."
Onetime siren Dorothy Lamour, 72, is returning to the screen after a two-decade absence, playing a rough and tough frontier woman in Stephen King's Creepshow II, due out in July. So, Dottie, what was it like to be back, wearing calico instead of a sarong? It was fine, she says, until the final, gory scene where she got gunned down. "They put a tube under my feet, and up my legs and clothes, and when the blood was needed, they popped it," Lamour explains. "The first take, I was bloody from head to foot with stuff made out of syrup. This went on for six takes, and I changed clothes six times, and it took an hour each time. Finally I said, 'I'll wait to change until after the next take.' Afterward, when I got home, I couldn't get my panty hose or bra off because they were stuck to me. I had to take three hot showers in my bra and panty hose, and at the end the shower looked like a murder had been committed." That's one problem she never faced in the Road pictures; there wasn't room under those sarongs for any tubes.
Comedian Howie Mandel's career on the big screen seems even more trouble ridden than his life on St. Elsewhere this season. Critics suggested that his first film, A Fine Mess, would have been more aptly titled without the adjective. Now the inside word is that Bobo, the Dog Boy, in which Mandel plays a talking canine, is such a bow-wow it may never get distributed. Howie, however, seems to be taking his setbacks in stride. Passing up Spago and the Ivy, he hosted a New Year's Eve party at a Howard Johnson's; guests at the motel gala got all the pretzels they could eat and had to fork out their own money for booze.