This week's hot whisper--but from such highly placed sources--is that Charles W. Knapp, Trafalgar Holding chairman and general financial whiz, looks to be close to acquiring MGM studios from Ted Turner. As the deal is rumored, cable king Turner gets to keep the classic MGM film library, all the more entertaining grist for his domestic cable and WTBS superstation mill . . . Another rumor gets confirmed today, with the announcement that the glamorous Bonita Granville Wrather (a close pal of the First Reagans) has been named chairman-elect of the American Film Institute. She's the first woman to hold the post.
ON THEIR TOES--It was a corps de ballet of stars for the L.A. opening of the American Ballet Theatre season. "Just what a gala should be," declared TV megaproducer Doug Cramer, there with Ames Cushins. Young and mildly mature Hollywood mixed: Michael J. Fox with Nancy McKeon, Barbara Carrera in a stunning snake-design beaded dress from Ruben Panis--"He understands my body somehow," Sally Field with spouse Alan Greisman, pretty and pregnant Meg Tilly with hubby Tim Zinnemann, Sidney and Joanna Poitier, Morgan Fairchild, and filmland dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein.
Dyan Cannon was there--"Isn't that Melody Rogers?" a benefitgoer asked. But nobody is the star like Mikhail Baryshnikov, cutting a gentle swath through the after-performance midnight supper, chatting with Gregory Peck, giving a warm hello to art maven Joan Quinn, there with her beautiful mother Faye Agajanian. Ballerina Cynthia Gregory, who insiders say is taking off the weight she put on after ending her 30-cigarette-a-day habit, looked very much the hometown-girl-made-famous. The underwriting and products provided by Moet & Chandon's Count and Countess Ghislain de Vogue made for a party atmosphere--which at the Shrine Exposition Hall is no easy matter.
Benefit chair Carol Yust added touches from her native Colombia, putting 6,000 Colombian roses on the tables. She and Charlie McWhorter, in from NYC, hosted a table that included Michael and Marge Fasman. In a town where 6 a.m. calls are the rule, people stayed after 1 a.m. to enjoy Milton Williams' yummy dinner. Besides the famous, the Shrine was packed with ordinary ballet fans--a sight the Ledler Foundation's Brian Maza said would delight cultural philanthropist Lloyd Rigler. (A sparkplug with the Music Center Dance Presentations, Rigler was absent because of a previous commitment at the New York City Opera--but he's made a $200,000 grant to the ABT.)
In no make-up and a peplum jacket and long skirt, Bette Midler and hubby Martin von Haselberg sat with good buddy Nora Kaye Ross. Midler looked like any happy young matron--until, when she left, one could catch a glimpse of her well-known wiggly walk.
PARLEZ-VOUS DANCING--"Ah, L.A. just isn't normal. People don't dance," said that international darling nightspot owner, Regine, in town Wednesday for a quickie visit with her buddies Julio Iglesias, Michael Caine and Joan Collins. A little business--talking with Cannon Films and Lorimar about mini-serializing her autobiography and chatting with good friend superagent Irving Lazar about U.S.A. publishers. A little more business--talking with state Coastal Commissioner Mark Nathanson over tea at Trumps about plans to make a Regine's happen in L.A. (ah, normalcy--dancing until the wee hours among the famous). She'll be back for the fabulous annual party hosted Oscar night at Spago by Swifty and Mary Lazar. (Business might have been going on at Regine's table, but Dudley Moore took teatime for some necking with a very pretty brunette. Dancing, no. Kissing, yes.) . . . Nathanson, wearing his political rainmaker hat, said that the Century Plaza dinner he co-chaired last week for City Atty. Jimmy Hahn was so successful that Hahn's $230,000 political debt is practically obliterated. Pretty hot fund-raising in a non-election year for Hahn.
KUDOS--The Central American Refugee Center on Wednesday night honored the Rev. George Regas of All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena, and Councilman Mike Woo, who authored the resolution establishing sanctuary for undocumented aliens. Woo commented: "I don't know that the sanctuary movement is as American as apple pie--but I do think that it's as American as the Mayflower." . . . Financier William Belzberg has been elected national chairman of the State of Israel Bonds organization--the marketing group for Israeli government securities. With his two brothers, Belzberg founded one of Canada's largest trust companies, First City Trust.
OLD FRIENDS HEARD OF--The Freeling Family--Steve, Diane, Robbie and Carole Anne--have sent out a change-of-address card on a picture post card. Seems as though they are moving from Cuesta Verde to Phoenix on May 23. Sound familiar--but you just can't place 'em? Oh, maybe you remember them from "Poltergeist"; the clever card is announcing their reappearance in "Poltergeist II: The Other Side."
SING IT AGAIN--And they will, at the First Singers' Salute to the Songwriter. Benefiting the Betty Clooney Foundation, the April 7 benefit honors songwriters Marilyn and Alan Bergman, Sammy Cahn, Cy Coleman, Barry Manilow and Jule Styne. Roz Wyman, who orchestrated the '84 Democratic Convention, has lined up a delectable array of singers--including, of course, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Debby Boone, Jack Jones, Melissa Manchester, pianist Michael Feinstein, and such wonderful Hollywood legends as Jackie Cooper and Dolores and Bob Hope. Jack Elliott and his orchestra will back up the "thank you" to the writers from the singers of their songs. The foundation wants to build a "supervised, apartment-style complex" where people with traumatic head injuries can live with independence.
OF COURSE--Andy Lipkis, the executive director of TreePeople, and his wife Katie are expecting. Is it true what they are telling friends--that they are considering naming the offspring Euca? That's right. Sound it out. Euca-Lipkis.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY--The Beverly Hills favorite, La Scala, celebrates its 30th anniversary March 31--and does it by honoring the underwriters of the '85 Maple Center Gala. It is, of course, hosted by Jean Leon . . . Congrats to the Pacific Dining Car, this year celebrating 65 years of serving good food to downtown's hungry-round-the-clock workaholics.