People

Jane O'Hara March 26 1979

People

Jane O'Hara March 26 1979

People

Aware that there are strange things done in the midnight sun by men who moil for gold, three Canadian actresses, Lisa Langlois, 20, D.D. Winters, 20, and Sherry Lewis, 25, are nothing if not curious about heading off to the Yukon where they will shoot the $4-million movie Klondike Fever. Especially in light of the fact that their co-starring opposite will be the rugged Rod Steiger. The movie, based on Jack London’s 1898 travel memoirs, will cast the trio as saloon girls-cww-women of the night. A formidable task, considering the northland’s marathon winter evenings. While Langlois plans to do homework on London’s life and Winters wants to talk to Pierre Berton in preparation for the film, Lewis thinks her background will stand her in good stead. An accomplished equestrian and past performer as Diamond Lil in a Toronto cabaret, Lewis is ready for the role. “Back in the 1890s the women would get around on horseback,” she said. “Of course, that’s if they got out of their rooms at all.”

It was a case of the age of the remake meeting the Age of Aquarius last w week when the long-awaited, overz budgeted movie version of the 1967 rock musical Flair was screened at a $125-a| ticket gala benefit in aid of New York’s cc Columbia University school of film, d Since it happens that Hair's director \ Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuek| oo's Nest) moonlights as a film prof at “ Columbia, it was no surprise that a few of show biz’s brighter lights were enjoined to show up and shell out for the worthy cause. Attending were Diana

Ross (The Wiz), Rudolf Nureyev, Truman Capote, Paul Simon, Charles Grodin and Roy Scheider, but noticeably absent was Twyla Tharp, America’s avant-garde modern dance choreographer, who was commissioned to design Hair's 20 pro-

duction numbers. After spending two years on her first movie project, Tharp was somewhat miffed to find that only nine minutes of dance survived Forman’s Hair cuts in the editing room. “We had a creative conflict,” said Forman. “I decided to do it my way and she was a little bitter. I can understand that.”

ii^#oung comics wear tennis shoes, 1 swear a lot and make jokes about TV commercials,” says Mort Saht, 52, the elder statesman of bebop social satire, who was in Toronto last week to help celebrate the anniversary of a local comedy cabaret. Toting his mandatory newspaper and wearing the grey flannel pants and cashmere sweater that have been his trademark since 1953, the Montreal-born comic set out to prove to an audience of Rosedale radicals and Baby-Boom nostalgists that he hadn’t lost his biting wit. The neutron bomb: “Kills the immediate family and leaves the mortgage standing.” American politics: “Linda Ronstadt is a Democrat, Debby Boone is a Republican. Personally I prefer jazz.” Women: “I pay them the

ultimate compliment, I listen to them.” Though he now spends most of his time in Washington, where he has a radio talk show, Sahl spared a moment to summarize Canadian politics: “Trudeau’s wife left him, Clark’s wouldn’t.”

It wasn’t that he didn’t trust his publishers, but when 41-year-old Vancouver lawyer William Deverell was presented with his $50,000 (in $10 bills) prize for winning Seal Books’ “First Novel Competition,” he started counting. Slowly. Admitting it would take “five or six days” to make certain all the cash was there, Deverell, who beat out 275 other budding best sellers, picked up the literary loot last week for his manuscript Needles (to be published Oct. 13), a novel about Vancouver’s drug underworld which he wrote on sabbatig cal last year. “I knew there was a book § in me,” said the onetime police reporter £ for the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, who | boned up on Fowler's before writing his 5 book. “The money was secondary.” And although as the recently elected president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association Deverell doesn’t quite fit the image of a starving, garret-bound artist, the reward will come in handy. “He really needs that money,” cracked Jack McClelland, president of McClelland and Stewart Ltd. “He’s got holes in his shoes.”

As an underworld boss, actor-songwriter Paul Williams looks about as forbidding as the Pillsbury dough boy and, as a prostitute turned stripper, Montreal actress Andrée Cousineau was so unconvincing, she had to research the role. But given the willing suspension of disbelief, that’s the way the duo is cast in the upcoming movie Stone Cold Dead, based on Hugh Garner’s novel The Sin Sniper. Cousineau,

28, whose film experience has been mainly limited to French-speaking roles, had less trouble talking English than she did with her hooker body language. To remedy the situation, she took a crash course in the bump and grind by touring Montreal strip joints and hiring a Toronto stripper as a film consultant. “It was very hard for me,” said Cousineau, who will play a cigarette girl in a new CBC comedy series called Flappers (scheduled to air in September). “I’ve never seen any strippers before, but they were very helpful and, surprisingly, very good dancers.”

As a master of seamy relationships and sordid human motives, playwright Tennessee Williams (A Streetcar Named Desire, Sweet Bird of Youth) couldn’t have devised a better script. And although he probably wishes he had thought of it first, real life beat him to the punch. Scene 1. Williams’ home on Duncan Street, Key West, which is managed by his longtime caretaker Frank Fontis, who Williams describes as, “A friend . . . very eccentric, but harmless.” Scene 2. Fontis is discovered Jan. 5, shot through the head three times. Murder is suspected. Scene 3. Fontis’s safe is recently opened by the executor of his will and among the contents are items which Williams maintains have been stolen from him. “The things confiscated over the years were some of my personal letters, pictures, one of my earliest journals and the only copy of a manuscript which I value very much,” said the dramatist last week. “Even friends aren’t always what they seem.” Curtain.

Jane O'Hara