Sounds too good to be true, but director James Ivory plans to cast two formidable leading ladies, Maggie Smith, who played a supporting role in his A Room With a View, and Vanessa Redgrave, star of Ivory's The Bostonians, in their first film together. The untitled comedy is being written by Terrence (The Ritz) McNally; it's about the agents, hairdressers, makeup people and others who cater hand and foot to the stars of a movie. Smith will play a publicist, Redgrave a hairdresser.
TV's treatment of alcoholism as a dramatic theme usually features a happy ending. But Cagney & Lacey is about to introduce some grim realism into the medium's chronicling of its favorite disease. In a two-part episode that will close the show's fifth season, Christine Cagney's father will die an alcoholic death reminiscent of William Holden's. The script has Charlie Cagney (played by Dick O'Neill) bleeding to death after a fall because he is too drunk to help himself. Although this might be construed as a stumble in the direction of frankness, the show stops short of showing the bloody truth: The elder Cagney will die off-camera.
Though she still has three more pictures to do under an exclusive contract with Disney, Bette Midler will be singing on film for the first time since 1980 in a Tri-Star project based on a forthcoming biography of Lotte Lenya. The deal, with producer Craig (Footloose) Zadan, calls for Miss M to play her first dramatic role since her Oscar-nominated debut performance in The Rose.
Orion's Hoosiers is the sleeper hit of the season, and no one has watched it with more interest than the nitpicking sleuths of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. It seems that one of the kids on the fictitious Hickory High basketball team actually plays for DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., not far from where the movie was filmed. When the NCAA found out that guard Steve Hollar had been paid $15,000 to play Rade Butcher, who is benched by coach Gene Hackman for shooting when he should have been passing, it decided he had broken NCAA rules by accepting money for playing his sport. With Solomonic wisdom, the NCAA agreed that 95 percent of Hollar's work in the film was acting and 5 percent basketball. So it made him pay his school $632—about 5 percent of his pay—and suspended him for three DePauw games this past season. Another DePauw player, Griff Mills, who was paid $3.50 an hour as a walk-on and appeared briefly in only one scene, forfeited all he had earned—$42—and was also suspended for three games.
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