Take One

updated 03/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

Michael Jackson's attempt at toy making wasn't exactly Bad, but it was no Thriller either. Jackson phoned Mattel Inc. in Hawthorne, Calif., before his current concert tour, to see if he could run his great idea for a new toy by them. The brass asked Michael to come by on a Saturday to avoid fandemonium in the factory. Jackson toured the place with top designers, and execs looked over his Transformer-type toy that resembled an animal. Mattel took a pass and Jackson took the rejection well. "Michael didn't seem that concerned," said an insider. "He was intrigued to meet the designers and see how they worked. It was total role reversal—they were stars in his eyes."... More on Michael: During Jackson's recent sold-out three-concert stand at New York City's Madison Square Garden, his good pal Liza Minnelli attended every performance. Now, that's a fan.

Casting news: Saturday Night Live's Jon Lovitz is no longer Morgan Fair-child's husband. Now he's Kim Basinger's brother-in-law. SNL's compulsive liar is teaming up with SNL alum Dan Aykroyd in the movie My Stepmother Is an Alien. Aykroyd is married to Basinger in the comedy, and Lovitz plays his lady-killer brother.... The thriller Finding Maubee, an independent production, is having no trouble finding a class cast. Denzel (Cry Freedom) Washington is playing a Caribbean police chief, Mimi (Someone to Watch Over Me) Rogers a wealthy resort owner's wife and—just added—Robert (Hollywood Shuffle) Town-send a local troublemaker.... Orion wants to cast Holly (Broadcast News) Hunter opposite the already signed Dennis Quaid in Great Balls of Fire, the Jerry Lee Lewis bio-pic being made with his cooperation. The movie is based on the memoirs of third wife Myra Lewis, who married her cousin when she was only 13 years old.

British director Michael Anderson has written a letter to the Directors Guild expressing his concern that shots in Fatal Attraction's knife-in-the-water finale are close to his own in The Naked Edge, a 1961 thriller starring Gary Cooper and Deborah Kerr. Fatal director Adrian Lyne says he never saw Edge and certainly didn't lift anything from it. Of the climactic bathroom scene, Lyne says, "I worked for four days in isolation with my writer, Jim Dearden, to set up that sequence because I had never seen it done onscreen."

Rainman, the United Artists film starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise as brothers, is not falling from heaven gently. To date there have been a flood of writers (at least five) and three directors, Steven Spielberg, Martin (Beverly Hills Cop) Brest and Sydney (Out of Africa) Pollack, allot whom opted out during preproduction. Now moving into this storm front is director Barry (Good Morning, Vietnam) Levinson, who is polishing the troubled screenplay himself. God willing and the creek don't rise again, Levinson will begin to scout locations in the Midwest next month, and shooting will start in May.

Cheryl Crane thinks Madonna would be the ideal dyed blond to play her mom, Lana Turner, in producer Allen Carr's CBS miniseries of Detour, Cheryl's best-seller about her Hollywood childhood. "What's more natural than today's sex symbol playing yesterday's?" asks Crane. "Every time I'm rushing through an airport and see Madonna on a magazine, I do a double take and think, 'My God, that's Mother!' I suggested Madonna to Mother, and she said, 'Madonna? Where did you come up with that?' " Carr says Madonna would be too young for the part. "She might be good for Cheryl," he suggests.

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