You've probably seen those stories in recent years about stars who do commercials abroad but refuse to do any domestically.
I mean big stars.Oh sure, we see Bill Cosby selling Jell-O, Michael J. Fox performing in skits for Diet Pepsi, Spike Lee pushing Nikes - and we oldtimers can even remember when the late Sir Laurence Olivier endorsed Polaroid cameras!
But can you imagine tuning into your favorite sitcom and during the breaks seeing Eddie Murphy, Sylvester Stallone or Paul Newman on a commercial?
It happens - primarily in Japan.
What's really surprising, though, is that the products are sometimes not what you might expect to go with the star. On the other hand, sometimes they are.
So, here's a little quiz, a baker's dozen of celebrities and products, as seen in Japanese advertising. See if you can match them up. (Answers are at the bottom of this column):1. Eddie Murphya. Tokyo Gas
2. Sylvester Stalloneb. Seibu department store
3. Paul Newmanc. Toyota
4. Arnold Schwarzeneggerd. Suzuki cars
5. Woody Allene. Nippon Steel
6. Gene Hackmanf. Assess toothpaste
7. Mickey Rourkeg. Panasonic
8. Charlie Sheenh. Ito Ham
9. Rob Lowei. Fuji Bank credit cards
10. Kevin Costnerj. Suntory Malt
11. Sigourney Weaverk. Suntory Whiskey
12. Tatum O'Neall. Kirin Dry beer
13. George Lucasm. Nissin noodlesMaybe we should make up our own ideal products for the stars to pitch. A friend suggests Rob Lowe for Sony video tape. Any other suggestions out there?
- SO WHICH MOVIE STARS earned the biggest bucks from their movies during the 1980s?
According to a recent issue of Variety, the show-biz trade paper, No. 1 was Sylvester Stallone, with $63 million. That's his personal income, not movie profits. (Remember we're talking two "Rockys" and three "Rambos" during that decade.)
Second on Variety's list - taken from Forbes Magazine - was Arnold Schwarzenegger, with $55 million, followed by Jack Nicholson, $50 million; Eddie Murphy, $48 million; Bruce Willis, $36 million; Sean Connery, $35 million; Michael J. Fox, $33 million; Tom Cruise, $26 million; Michael Douglas, $24 million; and Harrison Ford, $22 million.
There are no women in the bunch, of course. And you wondered why actresses complain about inequality.
- IN A RECENT ISSUE of Premiere magazine Tim Jay compiled a brief up-and-down history of profanity in the movies.
Ah, culture. There's nothing like it.
Anyway, here is Jay's unscientific list of eight films surveyed for foul language, from which you may draw your own conclusions:
In "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955) there was no profanity.
In "Gone With the Wind" (1939) there was one.
In "E.T." (1982) there was a profanity every eight minutes.
In "Rocky" (1976) there was swearing every 3:20 minutes.
"On Golden Pond" (1981) used a profanity every 1:21 minutes.
In "Blazing Saddles" (1974) such words came at us every 53 seconds.
It escalated to every 34 seconds in "Scarface" (1983)
And in the "Eddie Murphy Raw" (1987) concert film, the star swore every 10 seconds.
We've come a long way, baby.
- IT'S ALWAYS INTERESTING to hear what artists think of other artists.
So it was impossible during a recent round of interviews for the restored "Fantasia" to resist asking Ollie Johnston what he thinks of Don Bluth.
Johnston is one of Disney's famous "nine old men" - the standard-bearers for the Disney studio's animation department during the heyday of such classics as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Pinocchio" and "Fantasia."
Bluth was a Disney animator who came along later, during the "Fox and the Hound" years. He left Disney to go out on his own, and his "Secret of NIMH" is credited with forcing the folks at Disney to return to the classical style of animation that eventually led to "The Little Mermaid."
Bluth, meanwhile, turned out "An American Tail," "The Land Before Time" and last year's "All Dogs Go to Heaven."
The now-retired Johnston said he knew Bluth when both were working for Disney and admires his work, but thinks Bluth has forgotten a primary lesson that Walt Disney himself felt very strongly about.
"I don't think he's done anything that's comparable to `The Little Mermaid,' " Johnston said. "They (Bluth's production staff) don't seem to grasp the idea as well as our guys of getting the audience involved with characters by making the characters come to life and appear to be thinking and giving an acting performance really.
"I know that a lot of people have enjoyed the films he did, and I saw `The Land Before Time,' and there was some good stuff in it. But I didn't think it had the strong story structure or the character or personality development that I like to see.
"You need a lot of good people and you need especially good story people. Good animators and good directors are fine, but if you don't have a story you can't make it."
- QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Steven Seagal, martial-arts star and co-producer of the nation's No. 1 hit of the moment, "Marked for Death" (to the Orange County Register's Barry Koltnow):
"As an avid student of the classics, literature and real films, I prefer deep characters and compelling plots.
"I do not like the cartoons that I have to appear in now, but as soon as I get rid of these chains, these legal obligations to do these films, there are some wonderful pictures I'd like to make. And I'm going to make them. I'm just getting started in this business."
- QUOTE OF THE WEEK II: Tom Savini, makeup expert and first-time director of the new remake of "Night of the Living Dead" (to Knight-Ridder's Glenn Lovell):
"This may sound strange coming from me, but the less you show the better off you are. This is not a splatter film. I find the `Friday the 13th'-type movies . . . almost pornographic. I took a more voyeuristic approach to this one; you have to strain hard to see what they (the zombies) are eating. They're more in the background, like lions feeding."
- QUOTE OF THE WEEK III: Clint Eastwood, whose latest starring-directing effort is "White Hunter, Black Heart," talking with Robert Denerstein (Scripps-Howard) about movie ratings (before the recent changes):
"The rating board has been a disappointment to me. When Jack Valenti (head of the Motion Picture Association of America) asked me to support it, I said, `By all means.' But I've had him threaten me with Xs. I've had to cut films. The thing that's disappointing, of course, is many of today's movies contain violence 80 times anything I've ever perpetrated on screen. I think they'd better get it together and be consistent."
- ANSWERS: 1. c.; 2. h.; 3. i.; 4. m.; 5. b.; 6. l.; 7. k.; 8. a.; 9. d.; 10. j.; 11. e.; 12. f.; 13. g.