Take One

updated 02/27/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/27/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

The folks at Paramount say they opened John Travolta's new movie, The Experts, in Texas and Oklahoma last month because the star has such a huge following in those two states. But apparently not huge enough. The film, which co-stars Arye Gross and Kelly Preston and is about two hipsters who get mixed up with the KGB, got dismal reviews and fared poorly at the box office. The Houston Chronicle's critic, Jeff Millar, said, "If The Experts were a horse, you'd avert your face, close your eyes and shoot it." After opening Experts on Jan. 13 at 100 screens, Paramount next takes it to Louisiana and Tennessee but is holding off on a national release. The shaky start has not dashed the enthusiasm of John's publicist, Paul Bloch: "John is very big on it. I don't know why it didn't do well." Travolta's next film, Daddy's Home, with Kirstie (Cheers) Alley, is due next month from Paramount.

Back in 1983, when Mary Steenburgen discovered she was pregnant after being cast in Swing Shift, she recommended her friend Christine Lahti, below, to replace her. When Lahti was cast in Corsair's soon-to-be-released Miss Firecracker, but became pregnant, she recommended Steenburgen to Tommy Schlamme, who is both Lahti's hubby and Firecracker's director. Lahti still made it into the movie. She appears very pregnant in a crowd scene and, in another, plays an ex-neighbor of Steenburgen's. Circled by kids and holding a tiny newborn, Lahti says, "Come on over here and kiss my new baby. This is Willie." And indeed it is—Wilson Lahti Schlamme, exactly 5 days old.

Bob Hope—not America's idea of a gay activist—has just filmed a 30-second TV spot denouncing violence against homosexuals. "I was amazed to discover," he says, "that many people die each year in antigay attacks and thousands more are left scarred emotionally and physically. Please don't be a part of it." This unexpected support for gays came about after the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAD) took Hope to task for a remark he made on The Tonight Show last December. Hope, looking at Ed McMahon's tie, said it would have labeled Ed a "fag" 10 years ago. Outraged, GLAD sent Hope a tape, narrated by Harvey (Torch Song Trilogy) Fierstein, about the effects of such careless comments. GLAD also enclosed a public service script. Hope not only agreed to do the spot but added his own words to strengthen the message. "It was pretty extraordinary. We can't even get progressive artists to do that," says GLAD's Karin Schwartz, who is negotiating with the major networks to air the spot. Says Hope: "I felt that it was a very important thing to do."

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