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Entertainment news for August 16

Tom Hanks, Madonna, and Matthew McConaughey made the news this week

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Rebirth of a Salesman: It would seem that A Time to Kill‘s Matthew McConaughey has stock in Bantam Books. In recent articles — eight, to be exact — the 26-year-old Texan attributed his success to repeated readings of the publisher’s inspirational book The Greatest Salesman in the World, by Og Mandino. According to Bantam, the book — first published in 1968 — normally sells about 7,500 copies a month, but some stores have reported a sharp increase in Salesman sales, though none could say whether it was due to the actor’s endorsement. Then again, it could be because McConaughey buys copies for his friends. He’s even turning them on to the author’s other books. (Kill costar Sandra Bullock just read Mandino’s The Greatest Secret in the World.) Needless to say, the actor has found a fan at the publishing house. ”We’re delighted that a new generation has discovered Og,” says Barb Burg, Bantam’s publicity director. ”And if Matthew needs a Bantam employee to read to him each night, I’d happily volunteer.”

Follicle Follies: Scheduling, ratings, plotlines — who cares? Reporters at last month’s Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena knew what was really important: hair. Or rather, the lack thereof. Ted Danson, star of CBS’ new sitcom Ink, defended his toupee-free look to inquiring minds. ”My hair is not my problem,” he said. ”I look in the mirror and I look fantastic. When I turn my back to you then you’ve got a problem, but I don’t.” Meanwhile, Barney Miller vet Ron Glass — soon to reemerge in NBC’s sitcom Mr. Rhodes — insisted the stuff on his head was real, despite a reporter’s skepticism. To prove it, the actor climbed off stage and made her feel his scalp.
—A.J. Jacobs

That Thing To Do: Ah, brevity is the soul of wit. And Tom Hanks knows it. The actor is in the midst of a marathon editing session to trim That Thing You Do!, his feature writing-directing debut, from an epic three hours plus to a pithy 103 minutes, in time for its world premiere at September’s Toronto Film Festival. While excising has been no sweat for Hanks (”It’s been the only part of the experience where I can get some space and enjoy seeing things begin to work”), directing is another story. ”It’s always something,” he says. ”There’s always something. It never ends. If you guessed at how hard it was to do this job, then multiplied it by 10, maybe then you would be close.”
—David Poland

They Want Your Sex: Four years after its publication, Madonna’s Sex book is still in vogue. At least in Omaha. According to Mary Griffin, adult-collection manager at the Omaha Public Library, 234 people are on a waiting list to check out one of five copies of the ”art” book. ”We never make any progress in eliminating the list,” says Griffin. ”It keeps perpetuating itself.” Additional copies of Sex, published in just one printing by Warner Books in 1992, are too expensive (it originally sold for $49.95), so Griffin asked library members for donations. So far, the plea has yielded only a few copies. ”My real hope,” sighs Griffin, ”is Madonna calls us and says, ‘I have an extra case of these in the garage.’ We’d be happy to take them off her hands.”
—Casey Davidson