Our elevators are their lifts. Our cookies are their biscuits. And the cupcake-shaped things we call muffins are almost unheard of in Britain. So suburban-Toronto sextet Martha and The Muffins could have been forgiven for becoming Martha and the Crumpets after they caused confusion on a recent trip with their name and with lyrical references to Cheezies—a snack food unknown in the U.K. The Muffins, fronted by two Marthas (Ladly and Johnson), have climbed over Canadian heavy-metal merchants Rush and April Wine to the top of the pop charts in England with their Echo Beach single and Metro Music album. Despite transatlantic success and an impending second European tour, the no-wave activities in life go on: “I’ll be home polishing the floor and get a phone call from London saying the single’s No. 6 and the album’s No. 10,” muses vocalist Johnson.
New York producer Joseph Papp was looking for a singer who could act, be amusing and appear “innocent.” She also had to be a star, since the city’s financially pinched Shakespeare Festival needs a crowd-magnet for its Central Park production this summer. So Papp decided to “go way out in terms of casting” and offer rock superstar Linda Ronstadt a part in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance. Ronstadt is finished helping Governor Jerry (Moonbeam) Brown with his illfated campaign, and her Punkerella image may be short-lived, so she decided to give up a million-dollar tour to make her $400-a-week dramatic debut. Her only question when Papp phoned was, “Can I start tomorrow?”
After listening to The Chieftains, Pope John Paul II commented that the group played the kind of music that must have lured St. Patrick to Ireland in the fifth century. The Chieftains were the Pope’s opening act last September at his Dublin mass before 1.2 million participants—a record performance that out-massed The Beatles, The Bee Gees and the Rolling Stones. “We could have sat there all day jamming,” says leader Paddy Moloney, “but we had to give the man his time.” The hustle and bustle of the Dublin gig precluded formal introductions, so The Chieftains didn’t get to meet the Pope until January when they played at a private audience in Rome. Despite his own fledgling recording career, the singing pontiff kept his private session with each group member on a strictly personal level and did not seek any tips about management or contracts. The Pope now has a complete set of Chieftains’ records and is said to be looking for-
ward to the film Tristan and Iseult, starring Richard Burton and Kate Mulgrew and featuring an original soundtrack by the high-jigging sextet.
11 loggers were annoyed because they Wexpected a film about sweat, strain and what kind of knee guards to buy, and armchair athletes simply avoided it,” says Susan Anspach about Running, which has made only a 50yard dash at the box office. Co-starring with China Syndrome producer Michael Douglas, Anspach plays the semi-liberated and estranged wife of a failed student, failed shoe salesman and failing Olympic marathoner who learns the joys of losing everything but his selfrespect. Anspach says the strong, nurturant role parallels her own experience with an actor: “It didn’t bother me to support my family financially as long as
my husband was committed to an ideal.” She’s currently making The Devil and Max Devlin with Elliott Gould and Bill Cosby. Gould bargains to stay out of hell by sending three IOU souls in his stead. Says Anspach with a smile: “In his case, winning is important.”
ÍÍIMfe’re an unlikely combination,” WW says Liza Minelli about her collaboration with the bounding boy of ballet in Baryshnikov on Broadway, a TV special to be aired later this month. After a winter of recuperating from injuries and a bout of tendonitis, Misha will cavort to tunes from Oklahoma and Guys and Dolls. He and Minnelli have been romantically linked and are at least staunch friends. To keep up with Liza, Baryshnikov had to go from pliés to tap and shuffle, which reinforced his admiration for the commedia dell’arte
multi-talents of Broadway gypsies: “These people give me a big complex. I mean, they can do everything, and I can’t do anything. I can dance, yes. ..”
((is he spoke, I looked at his pale #%face. I thought his smile was artificial, his eyes icy. I hoped I could trust him ... but...” No, it’s not a Harlequin tryst; it doesn’t have a happy ending. The author is Princess Ashraf Pahlavi, twin sister of the ailing ex-shah of Iran. The object of her state is U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The princess spills all the bitterness she and her brother feel for smiling Jimmy in Faces in the Mirror— Memoirs From Exile to be published this week. In the book, the “Tiger” recalls Jimmy and wife Rosalynn attending a New Year’s Eve party in 1978 in Tehran, and Carter saying of the Shah: “There is no leader with
whom I have a deeper sense of personal gratitude and personal friendship.” Ah, the resolutions people make, the things people say when the band plays “Should old acquaintance be forgot...”
Canadian entertainment awards ceremonies teemed with politicos this year, and last week’s ACTRAs were no exception. After appearing at the Genies and the Junos, Communications Minister Francis Fox made it a hat trick in less than a month. His immediate predecessor, David MacDonald, presented an award for children’s TV programming, and seemed cheerful despite his recent election defeat in the riding he had held for nearly 15 years and his present state of underemployment. The jogging, social-activist clergyman says he is “putting bread on the table” as a fellow in residence for the Institute for
Research on Public Policy, and he is contemplating whether to let his candidacy for United Church moderator stand. Former moderator Bruce McLeod “called and suggested I not make a quick decision,” MacDonald confessed.
French actress Isabelle Huppert
startled North American moviegoers with her transformation from a romantic innocent in The Lacemaker to a megalomaniacal murderess and prostitute in Violette Nozidre. She continues in the latter vein by playing the owner of the friendly neighborhood bordello in Michael Cimino’s new epic, Heaven's Gate, with Kris Kristofferson and John Hurt. After seeing Cimino’s The Deer Hunter, which she thought was a masterpiece, Huppert was delighted when he offered her a role, even though she had to learn how to roller-skate, waltz, ride a horse and fire a rifle. Ever the perfectionist, Cimino called for no fewer than 52 retakes of one scene in which Kristofferson tore into a crowd with a bullwhip.
iillike doing eccentric ladies,” says loutrageous Craig Russell, and the latest addition to his repertoire certainly qualifies. After its debut at Carnegie Hall in January, he will drag out his version of Eva Perón for home audiences this week. “I spent six months in New York last year and she was the most interesting person I met. It was quite a shock to discover she’d been dead for 27 years.” Russell has been trying to do Anne Murray justice for a while, but no luck. “She’s so pure. I can’t do a send-up of her,” sighs Russell.
Hybrid folkie Harry Chapin was an award-winning film-maker before giving up video to perform his slice-oflife narrative songs—“I’m making aural movies now,” he says. Because of their length, his “story songs” seldom get AM airplay, with exceptions like Taxi, which clocked in at six minutes, 37 seconds. Chapin has built a solid following by cutting 10 albums and doing more than 200 concerts a year. He tries to commute or take his kids with him ever since his wife, Sandy, wrote the poem that inspired Cat's in the Cradle, chiding him for being away so much. On a recent Maritime tour, Chapin did his usual 2V2to three-hour concerts and peddled books of his poetry for a group he co-founded, World Hunger Year. He considers himself one of the most politically active performers around but admits that good works and long songs take their toll: “I’m always a little hoarse the next morning. But then, I’m not a finely tuned instrument.”
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