updated 04/18/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/18/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Since her show Designing Women closed shop last year, Judith Ivey, 42, has given birth to a son, finished a Disney TV movie, On Promised Land, airing this month, and started working on a CBS pilot. And on April 20 she'll open in Lanford Wilson's play The Moonshot Tape in New York City. "My oldest child has a frequent-flier card already, she's flown so much,'' Ivey says of 4-year-old Maggie, who will commute with dad, producer Tim Braine, from L.A. to Manhattan during Ivey's engagement. "I did it as a benefit reading for them two years ago with Alec Baldwin, and they kept calling to see if I would do it in their regular season. Finally, I said okay, assuming that the role of a lifetime, with a check with several zeros on it, doesn't come my way. So far, the check hasn't revealed itself."

Now that Wayne Gretzky has scored his 802nd National Hockey League goal, more than any other player in history, what does the Great One have planned for the day when he hangs up his skates? "Go to Hawaii and lie on a beach for a long time," says Gretzky, 33, who is impressed but mystified by basketball superstar Michael Jordan's attempt to reincarnate himself in another sport—as a baseball player. "My hat goes off to him. I can never see myself being away from my family and traveling on buses again. And I, don't think my wife would be too happy about my saying, 'I'm going to start my golf tour.' " He'll also pass on joining the Paul Wylies and Brian Boitanos. not to mention the Nancys and Tonyas. "No thanks!" exclaims Gretzky. "Figure skating seems to be the most dangerous sport in the world right now. They talk about hockey! Beware of ice skaters. Our sport is too soft for them."

As head of the FBI for 48 years, J. Edgar Hoover had a lot of crooks sing to him, but now Kelsey Grammer and John Goodman are warming up their pipes to sing about him. J. Edgar!, a musical comedy written by Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap) and Cheers' writer and coproducer Tom Leopold. spoofs Hoover's personal relationship with longtime assistant Clyde Tolson. "I love to sing," says Grammer, 39, who plays Hoover in the show airing on National Public Radio this month. And, says TV's Frasier, the Feds have a sense of humor. "I have an old buddy in the FBI who told me, 'When I visited J. Edgar's grave recently, I heard this spinning sound. Now, why would that be?' "

Courtney Thorne-Smith has to please more than just a TV audience as Alison, the ambitious-but-amiable ad executive on Melrose Place. She's also accountable to her family. Her sister Jennifer works in the advertising and marketing department at Disney and occasionally critiques the series with dismay. "Jennifer's very bright and creative and has worked long and hard to get where she is," says Thorne-Smith, 25, who consults her sister on the ad lingo she and her TV boss, Heather Locklear, recite during presentation scenes. But Jennifer remains mystified by Alison's easy success. "All she sees is Alison bumbling along. She'll call me up and say, "So, Alison was late for work again. Did she get a promotion?' It kills her."

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