Richard Roundtree turned up at the crack of dawn the other morning to be on a Chicago TV show, and right away he knew he was in trouble. First, they wouldn't let him smoke. Second, they had his name on the screen and it read: Richard (Shaft) Roundtree. That was when he knew he needed a cigarette.
"Where do you want to sit?" asked George Burns. "Over here, by the light? How about this chair?"
Billy Dee Williams has been called the black Clark Gable and, if pressed, he'll agree that the comparison has some merit. Now 38, Williams spent a long apprenticeship on Broadway, in television and as a supporting film actor before he made his breakthrough as Chicago Bear Gale Sayers in "Brian's Song " in 1971.
HOLLYWOOD - Of all the kinds of sets they make movies on, the science-fiction sets are the most fun. Here was Michael York, dressed in a 23d Century tunic, holding a ray gun and looking immensely pleased with himself. And all around him, inside the largest sound stage on the MGM lot, were vast plastic domes and rows of ominously blinking lights and strange machines that looked like dentists' chairs run amok.
It was, said critic Pauline Kael, perhaps the most important artistic event since the first performance of Stravinsky's "The Rites of Spring." She was referring to the 1973 premiere of "Last Tango in Paris," a film by Bernardo Bertolucci which dealt in explicit detail with a brief affair between a middle-aged man and a girl barely out of her teens. The man was Marlon Brando, long acknowledged as the finest screen actor of his generation. The girl was Maria Schneider, a 20-year-old with an innocent face, a woman's body and an electrifying presence.
HOLLYWOOD - It's the kind of place where the food is so organic that you order a salad and the house dressing is peanut butter laced with safflower oil and herbs. The tables surround a shady patio, and the waitress wears a T-shirt and shorts, an attractive combination not lost upon Burt Reynolds. He listens to the description of today's entree (something involving eggs and tomato sauce) as if it were a specialty of selected Moroccan bordellos.
Kris Kristofferson says he's spent most of his life living out of a suitcase, and he looks it. He's wearing faded Levis and a ravaged leather flight jacket that looks ripped off of James Stewart in "Strategic Air Command" -- and this is his uniform, you understand, for a meeting with Barbra Streisand. He's just come from Barbra. She wanted to talk to him about starring with her in a remake of "A Star Is Born."
HOLLYWOOD - John Huston has come up for the day from Puerto Vallarta, the sleepy little Mexican beach town he converted into a tourist industry by filming "Night of the Iguana" there. He plans to speak with his agent and his business manager; a major Huston film is scheduled for Christmas release, and there are the Huston finances to be scrutinized and new projects to be considered. At 69, he is tall and courtly and exudes a personal charisma that I've rarely felt before; there seem to be special rewards in being John Huston.
"I'm really a director now," Maximilian Schell was saying. "That's how I've thought of myself for the last few years. It's just that once in a long while a role comes along that I simply can't turn down. This was a role like that - how could I say no to it?"
Film House in Stockholm - The lunch break always comes precisely at noon, as if Ingmar Bergman has a built-in timepiece, one of those clocks that are always ticking away in his movies. The director retires to his tiny cell across from the sound stage to eat fresh fruit and think about the afternoon's filming.