HIDEFALUTIN: Dining recently at a Los Angeles restaurant were Diane Sawyer and Barry Diller, head of Twentieth Century Fox, while Lauren Bacall and Anjelica Huston sat at a nearby table. When Sawyer and Diller went over to pay their respects before leaving the place, Bacall threw out her hand, threw down that voice and threw out a pitch to Diane: "That skin, that skin, I just want your skin." To have and to have not...
LIKEABULL: Despite the worst Wall Street calamity since the eve of the Great Depression, the people at Merrill Lynch couldn't bear it without their bull, a noble beast named Native Texan. They say that even if the market continues to slide this year, he'll keep charging merrily through Merrill Lynch commercials, albeit only at the end of the ads as a corporate symbol. "People like that damn bull. You should meet him sometime," says Jim Walsh, corporate advertising manager at the financial securities firm. "I think he's become so identified with Merrill Lynch that his appearance doesn't reflect the market. He stands for Merrill Lynch." Native is the third bull to represent the company since it went taurine with its ads in 1971. Says Walsh: "He's a handsome devil, that bull."
BUTT OUT: Gioia (pronounced Joy-ya) Bruno, one of the three graces of the platinum-selling girl group Expose, has her own method of extinguishing the burning fear invoked by unruly audiences. "This guy once grabbed my two private areas above the waist, so I took the cigarette hanging in his mouth and burned him with it," she says, remembering an incident before her Seasons Changed, when budgets were lower and risks higher. Back then she had to rely on her own "power and muscle" for protection while touring. Is her chest any safer these days? "We're better protected now, but someone will always manage to get their hand in there," she says. What a drag.
WRITE NOW: With a record of bestsellers that includes Hawaii, Texas and Legacy, clearly James Michener rarely has trouble getting inspired. "A writer like me cannot afford to get writer's block," the 80-year-old author said in South Florida, where he is currently a visiting professor at the University of Miami. On the rare occasions when he does, he says he finds that working on another part of his manuscript "gets you over the hump." And perhaps even over domestic skirmishes with his personal police co-Michener, Mari, his wife of 32 years. "I'm given credit for being well disciplined, but I'm not," the writer says. "My wife is. When she sees three years without checks, I get well disciplined."
BONOFIDE ADMIRER: Sold out shows, brilliant record albums and near unanimous acclaim still aren't enough to prevent the Irish rockers of U2 from getting their share of bummed-out fans. The group's lead singer, Bono, told England's Melody Maker magazine that after a spectacular fireworks display had ended a recent performance in the Los Angeles Coliseum, a shabby stranger sidled up to him onstage. "I turned around, and there was this really disheveled looking guy," said Bono. "All he said was 'Liked the fireworks, guys,' and then asked us if we wanted hot dogs. It turned out to be Jack Nicholson." Lots of relish, Jack.