The Insider

updated 04/30/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/30/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

LIDDY PUTS A LID ON IT

To the producers of the low-budget action thriller Street Asylum, which opens in May, it had seemed like the perfect publicity stunt and sure-fire photo opportunity: Stage an opening-night party at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. Surely the press would turn out to record for posterity the star of the film, convicted Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy, returning, as it were, to the scene of the crime.

But Liddy, 59, a staunch conservative who normally thrives on press attention, would have none of it. In fact, sources say Liddy was so angered that the producers would even plan such an event he sent word back to them begging off any publicity on behalf of the movie, in which he plays a fascistic police chief running for mayor of Los Angeles. (Liddy has done TV and film work before.) Liddy's rep says the story is not true but rather that Liddy was too busy with other commitments to promote the movie.

Either way, in a case of one-upmanship, the producers, Metropolis Films, announced they would donate part of the proceeds from the film's theatrical opening to the American Civil Liberties Union. The opening-night party at the Watergate, though, has been canceled.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

If you're wondering why actor Fred Ward gets top billing over superhot Alec Baldwin in Orion's just released Miami Blues, it's because Ward owned the screen rights to Charles Willeford's book of the same name. Ward, who played astronaut Gus Grissom in 1983's The Right Stuff, interested Jonathan (Married to the Mob) Demme in coming aboard as producer. Demme, in turn, brought in George Armitage as the film's screenwriter and director. For his role in developing the project, Ward received a producer's fee and a co-executive producer credit.

Of the movie, Ward, 47, the executive, is pleased. But as an actor, he admits to being "disappointed" that his part was reduced in deference to Baldwin, now the bigger draw since starring in The Hunt for Red October. "I'm not saying the focus should have been on me, and I don't think it necessarily hurts the film," says Ward, who plays a cop to Baldwin's con man in Miami Blues, "but I was 50-50 with Alec going in, and little by little my part was whittled away."

NO RAINBOWS FOR LIZA
Diana Ross, who sang "Over the Rainbow" at the Oscars on March 26, was not the first choice. Had Motion Picture Academy president Karl Maiden had his way, the song would have been sung by Liza Minnelli, whose mom, Judy Garland, made it famous in The Wizard of Oz. But Minnelli never performs "Rainbow" because, as she has put it, "Nobody could sing it better than my mother." Maiden called Liza personally and reminded her that one billion viewers would be tuned in, but still she said no.

CHECKING IN
Out on the concert trail right now, Billy Joel and his wife, supermodel Christie Brinkley, have been avoiding unwanted attention by registering in hotels under the names Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.

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