Take One

updated 02/29/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/29/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

When Steve Guttenberg was playing hard to get for Cocoon II, pleading scheduling conflicts, his senior co-stars from the first movie got on the phone. Steve signed. Co-producer Lili F. Zanuck says, "We worked real hard to get him, and we're real happy to have him." In the sequel the oldsters who went off into space in the 1986 movie return to earth. Back are Don Ameche, Gwen Verdon, Wilford Brimley, Jack Gilford, Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, Maureen Stapleton and Herta Ware. Newcomers will include Elaine (September) Stritch and Courteney (Family Ties) Cox. Head alien Brian Dennehy won't be back, but alien enchantress Tahnee Welch will.

Although ABC's Moonlighting received 150 furious phone calls from fans in the two days immediately after Cybill Shepherd (Maddie) told Bruce Willis (David) that the baby wasn't his and that she'd married another guy, producer-creator Glenn Caron says he isn't losing any sleep. "If David and Maddie had made up, had a baby, gotten married—suddenly we would be doing a domestic series," he says. "We desperately didn't want to do twentyninesomething."

All-the-world's-a-stage department: Madonna starts rehearsals in New York later this month for the Lincoln Center production of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow. Meanwhile husband Sean Penn has finished directing a one-act play he'd written during his 32-day stay in jail last year. A work in progress, The Kindness of Women was presented for two performances at a 60-seat theater, The Pink, in Santa Monica. Two seats were taken by Penn's pals, actor Harry Dean Stanton and Barfly poet Charles Bukowski. The three-character play follows Joe, a young drunk, as he repeatedly phones his wife, Sara. She wants him to come home, but he says he's too blotto. A typical exchange:

Sara: You're such a jerk.

Joe: You're such a bitch.

Although the dialogue may not give Harold Pinter pause, Penn did get kudos on his directing. "He's a brilliant director," said comedienne Martha Jane, who acted in the play. "I never saw an outburst of temper from him." Bravo!

Joan Van Ark has had it up to here playing that Goody Two-shoes, Valene, on Knots Landing. So she told her agent, "Find me a trollop who falls off a bar stool. Something 180 degrees from Valene." Come this spring, Van Ark won't be falling from any bar stools, but she will star as a madam, Brenda Allen, who oversaw one of L.A.'s finer fleshpots during the '40s in the fact-based Shakedown on the Sunset Strip on CBS. Says Van Ark: "It was a delicious departure. Next, I want to have a dirty-fingernails role."

Prince William, 5, has a valentine, and he sent her one. The clerk at the post office in Tetbury, Gloucestershire (near Prince Charles and Diana's country retreat, High grove), said, "His detective delivered it, and we sent it registered mail." So did the little prince send just one valentine? "Just the one," reported the clerk. "He mustn't be playing the field."

Most TV stars make movies when their series go on hiatus, but Growing Pains' Kirk Cameron, 17, is spending his break at high school. Kirk, usually taught by a tutor on the set, has enrolled in a San Fernando Valley school to finish his senior year this spring.

Marlee Matlin is working on her speaking skills with the help of speech-pathologist-to-the-stars Dr. Lillian Glass. As an Oscar presenter for Best Actor this April 11, Matlin plans to say, rather than sign, "The envelope, please." Reports Glass: "She needed a lot of work. Her voice was flat, monotone, and she talked too fast. Deaf people have to learn inflection and pitch." Matlin has a speaking role in the planned CBS movie with Anne Bancroft, The Bridge to Silence.

In Flipside, a proposed NBC sitcom, ex-Beatle Ringo Starr will play a rocker raising his kids. Don Johnson—yes, that Don Johnson—will produce. Jeff (Taxi) Conaway, who auditioned to play Ringo's roadie, says that one of the writers explained the concept this way: "Just think of it as a kind of Keith Richards Knows Best."

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