Fans of "Sabado Gigante" will be happy to know that the popular audience participation show will start off the new year by taping two of its programs from Hollywood in January (followed by future travels to New York, Chicago and Tijuana). Energetically hosted by its creator, Chile's charismatic Don Francisco (real name Mario Kreutzberger), the top-rated 3 1/2-hour weekly variety/game show normally emanates from Miami.

Cheech Marin (of "Cheech and Chong" fame) and "Dynasty's" Emma Samms will star in "Shrimp on the Barbie," a romantic comedy film about a Mexican-American who travels to Australia to work and ends up falling in love with the daughter of that country's wealthiest man.

And Mexican songstress Lupita D'Alessio returns to the big screen in Carlos Amador's production of "La Casada Infiel," to be filmed in Mexico City. She recently completed Televisa's soap "Lo blanco y lo negro" (The Black and the White), directed by Ernesto Alonso .

Following tours of Mexico and the United States, Jose Luis Rodriguez trekked to Tokyo to appear with Stevie Wonder and other top international artists at the Yamaha/UNICEF benefit music fest. The Venezuelan singer, known as "El Puma," says his next album will include several songs in Japanese.

In the style of Madonna and Paula Abdul, 20-year-old Cuban-American Martika is fast becoming rock music's latest phenomenon. Not only did the CBS artist's second single ("Toy Soldiers," released in Spanish as "Como un juguete") zoom to No. 1 on the English-language charts, but her debut album has already sold more than half a million copies.

For the past four years actress Constance Towers (wife of John Gavin, former U.S. ambassador to Mexico) has actively devoted her energies to aiding victims of Mexico City's 1985 earthquake. As part of the ongoing effort, known as "Project Connie," Vikki Carr recently traveled to Mexico City where she headlined a concert at the U.S. Embassy to raise funds for the still-suffering victims.

Short Takes: Plans are under way in Mexico to make a movie based on the life of Pancho Villa--with Anthony Quinn suggested for the lead . . . Roberto Carlos' new release, "Sonrie," is a Spanish version of the bittersweet song "Smile" written by Charlie Chaplin . . . After a year's search, Lou Diamond Phillips ("La Bamba," "Stand and Deliver") finally bought his dream house--a $1-million home in the Hollywood Hills.

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