Now it's Commander Jack Nicholson. The actor, in Europe to promote "The Two Jakes," has been presented France's top award for artistic excellence.
Culture Minister Jack Lang named Nicholson a commander of arts and letters and told him, "Your angular eyebrows, your ironic smile, your taste for exaggeration have etched out characters who are memorable, sometimes satanic."- The stakes are sky-high as Fox TV network expands to five nights of original shows this season. Fox Vice President Preston Padden told an industry seminar the company will spend $300 million to make new programs.
- Michael Landon is leaving NBC-TV after decades of success with shows like "Bonanza," "Little House on the Prairie" and "Highway to Heaven." Landon signed to produce and star in a one-hour dramatic series on CBS next season. CBS programming chief Jay Sagansky exulted: "He has a track record that can't be matched . . . and I'm delighted to have him on our side."
- A big win for Buck Owens. The country-western musician and radio station mogul has FCC permission to buy a Bakersfield TV station from his sister Dorothy, even though he already owns two radio outlets in the city.
Dorothy Owens filed a bankruptcy petition before her brother offered to buy the station. Local ABC, CBS and Fox-TV affiliates opposed the purchase, claiming the siblings had concocted a "sham" transaction, intending all along for Buck to run the station.
- Actor-writer Kirk Douglas has received a $3 million contract to write two more novels for Random House. "Dance With the Devil," the first Douglas book, was a best seller. Douglas has also signed to play Sylvester Stallone's daddy in "Oscar."
- Screenplays have joined baseball cards as collectibles. Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker of "L.A. Law" are set to auction off autographed scripts of "Casablanca," "From Here to Eternity," "Fatal Attraction," "Roots" and the first episode of the "Mary Tyler Moore Show," along with columnist Art Buchwald's signed plagiarism trial testimony. Bidding on these and other scripts has begun in a Brentwood, Calif., benefit for PEN Center USA, an international writers group.
- One victory for Andy Rooney: The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Phoenix ruled it wasn't libel for Rooney to tell his "60 Minutes" audience that a product didn't work for him. Rooney and CBS were sued for $16 million after he described "junk" he got in the mail, including an automotive windshield cleaner. Judges said makers of the product failed to prove Rooney did not have the experience he described.
- Fleetwood Mac won't fold. Drummer Mick Fleetwood says the band will keep working despite the announced departure of vocalists and songwriters Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks. Besides Fleetwood, the band still has bass player John McVie and guitarists Billy Burnette and Rick Vito.
- Michael Jackson has made tens of millions of dollars on his business deals but insists he's still primarily a musician.
"I consider myself a musician who is incidentally a businessman," the gloved one confides. "Like many musicians, I had to learn the hard way about business and the importance of publishing, royalties and the dignity of songwriting.
"Songwriting should be treated as the lifeblood of popular music. The creative process doesn't involve time clocks and quota systems. It involves inspiration and the willingness to follow through."
- Lillian Gish on agism in show business: "When I first went into the movies, Lionel Barrymore played my grandfather. Later he played my father and finally he played my husband. If he had lived, I'm sure I would have played his mother. That's the way it is in Hollywood. The men get younger and the women get older."
- New York Sen. Alfonse D'Amato rubs Pia Zadora the right way. When pol met singer backstage in a New York TV studio, he saw her hairdresser gently rubbing the singer's neck. "Here, let me try that," D'Amato said, even as he was doing a live radio interview. Soon the pain was gone. Chuckled Pia, "He managed to get rid of the cricks in my neck without so much as breaking his train of thought."