Somehow KCET on Monday night did the best job of party decorating seen in years. They managed to make an ordinary TV studio look, well, like an extraordinary studio.
Good props, yes, but the event also had the best set of extras ever seen. Among the 200-plus guests were Rod Steiger, Barbara Eden, Jane Wyatt, Jimmy Stewart, Dinah Shore, Elizabeth Montgomery, Edwin Newman, Jean Stapleton, Robert Foxworth and Loretta Swit.
If this sounds like “Television,” it was--or at least the send-off for the eight-part series called “Television,” which premieres Jan. 25. William G. McGowan, MCI’s chairman of the board, hosted the event since MCI is providing the principal funding.
In addition to famous TV personalities, there were a great many lobsters. “I never saw so many lobsters,” one normally jaded party-goer announced. Somerset Catering had set off the center of the TV set setup (including a portion of “Sesame Street”) with a lavish seafood spread. “I thought this was dinner,” Lorene Arbus complained.
It was a little cool in the sound stages--Jackie Foster kept her mink coat on while chatting with Weintraub Entertainment’s Lynne Wasserman (a member of the Georgetown Board of Trustees, along with McGowan). But Jackie’s producer husband, David, was toasty in the beard he had grown while in Canada. There, making “Short Circuit II,” Foster said he came to a realization: “I’m bald, so why am I shaving off all this hair?”
Nanette Fabray was strolling by with her good friend, noted ear specialist Dr. Howard House (who restored her hearing in 1969). Fabray returned the medical favor recently, when she used sign language to alert Russian workers on a street in Leningrad that House was suffering a heart attack. A car was stopped--and House was rushed to a hospital.
When guests were ushered into the adjoining studio, what greeted them was--a TV dinner. Or at least the first course done up to look like one. And, just like at home, they got to eat their TV dinner while watching a preview of the show.
Kyhl Smeby, KCET’s chairman of the board, said that despite KCET’s “strong and broad base of support--65% to 70% of our contributions come from the you’s and me’s, our viewers"--he was working hard to keep the strong support going in the business community.
Bob Foxworth looked more than debonair, with a silver Western tie ornamenting his tux and a diamond stud ornamenting his left ear. “It’s from Liz,” he said, as Montgomery smiled. “It symbolizes my freedom from ‘Falcon Crest.’ ”
MCI chairman McGowan told the crowd he was delighted that Mayor Tom Bradley had declared Monday as “MCI Day,” but, “Yesterday would have been a better time, since our driver got a ticket.”
Stand-up comedy could come back on TV if McGowan decides to change careers. During his brief remarks, he said he was forced to live in Washington. “My rule,” he told the party-goers, “is never rest easy when Congress is in session. And never rest when they are talking about you.”
NEW HOMES, NEW VENUES--Linda Ronstadt and George Lucas have brought a swell new home in San Francisco on Jackson. Neighbors are just thrilled--but wonder if that means Han Solo and Howard the Duck will drop by. . . .
Linda’s old flame, former Gov. Jerry Brown, looking great, was telling friends this weekend that he is off to India for a month of working with Mother Teresa. . . .
And, kudos to Architectural Digest’s Paige Rense and her former husband, Arthur Rense, who have tied the knot once again.
WE KNOW THE BOSSES--Judith Light, who manages to make people forget how good she was on “One Life to Live” by being such a successful comedian on “Who’s the Boss?” is now heading for yet another career accoutrement. Remember that last fall Light got kudos for her starring role in the made-for-TV movie, “Dangerous Affection,” with Jimmy Smits on NBC. That network reportedly is now wooing her for two additional TV movies, as soon as possible. . . .
And the very boss Ozzie Smith, baseball’s highest paid player, has signed a deal with Contemporary Books to bring out his autobiography. The Wizard of Oz’s book is due out this April, and, same month, the St. Louis Cardinals’ star will grace the cover of GQ, with a portrait by Richard Avedon.