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Flashes: August 14, 1994

Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson talk food, Meryl Streep takes on the wild river, and more

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What’s worse than a serial killer? According to Robert Downey Jr., it’s a serial killer with healthy eating habits. Downey says that on the set of Natural Born Killers (which also stars Juliette Lewis), costar Woody Harrelson, who plays a notorious murderer, was intent on saving lives between takes. ”Woody is a vegetarian,” says Downey, ”so he was constantly coming up to me and saying, ‘Don’t put cheese on that sandwich. It’s bad for you.”’ But Downey was amazed at how easily Harrelson could slip back into his psycho killer role. ”Two minutes later,” says Downey, ”[Woody’s] shooting and putting a spray of bullets into people like it’s not as bad as eating cheese.” — Cindy Pearlman

To play a woman who’s at home on a raft in the upcoming thriller The River Wild, Meryl Streep really took the plunge. Before filming began, Streep went on a six-day trip down Oregon’s Rogue River to learn the ins and outs of white-water rafting. ”When we first started, Meryl was flipping on the rocks, and I thought, ‘I don’t know if she’s gonna make it,”’ says guide and stunt double Arlene Burns, ”but she surprised me. On the last day, she rowed 24 miles of river through 30 or 40 small rapids and at least two big ones.” Equally impressed by Streep’s boating prowess was director Curtis Hanson: ”We thought we were gonna have to fake (filming) some stuff, but she just got better and better.” How did the cast and crew celebrate the actress’ success? Says Burns: ”We ate cold Thai food from Styrofoam containers in a parking lot.” — Kate Meyers

It was just another day at Sears corporate headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Ill., until a familiar-sounding British lilt came over the PA: ”I’m a special guest, and I’d like to meet with everyone outside.” The 5,000 employees piled outside to find the mystery man was none other than Phil Collins, dropping in to say thanks to Sears for sponsoring his current U.S. concert tour. Collins, it seems, impressed the audience with more than his impromptu performance of ”Another Day in Paradise” and ”In the Air Tonight.” ”Phil hung around to take photos and talk to people,” says Sears employee Mary Ann O’Rourke. ”He was so gracious and down-to-earth.” It’s not the first exchange of gifts between artist and sponsor. Earlier this year, Sears presented Collins and his band with individual sets of Craftsman tools. — CP

Thanks to the televised preliminary hearings last month, the career of O.J. Simpson‘s houseboy, Brian ”Kato” Kaelin, may be on the rise. According to sources, Kaelin has been approached to fill in as host of E! Entertainment Television’s Talk Soup the next time Greg Kinnear takes a day off. No deal has been signed yet. More fall-out from the blockbuster breakup of Tom and Roseanne: The couple will not be doing the remake of the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz 1954 classic, The Long, Long Trailer. ”I guess the movie won’t be happening now,” says Tom Arnold, ”although I would work with her, assuming she would want to work with me.”… Bobcat Goldthwait on the Tonight Show set- burning incident last May: ”The charges still haven’t been dropped,” says the comedian, ”which means I could be going to jail and O.J. will go free.”… If the marriage of his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, to Michael Jackson didn’t make the King spin in his grave, this just might do the trick: On La Toya Jackson‘s upcoming country album, she not only does a cover of ”Burning Love,” but also sings a song called ”Trash Like You” that features Elvis in the lyrics.