Entertainment news for January 10, 1992 -- Robin Williams, Sylvester Stallone, and Spalding Gray made headlines this week


Overcoming his fear of flying in Hook, Robin Williams will take an even flightier ride when he provides the voice of a genie in Aladdin, Disney’s next big animated feature. The musical adaptation, which is based loosely on A Thousand and One Nights, isn’t due till November, but Williams already has recorded dialogue and songs. ”Robin’s got a great Fats Waller-type number called ‘Friend Like Me,”’ says composer Alan Menken, who penned the tune with his late lyricist partner, Howard Ashman.

While the title Cliffhanger might seem more fitting for the financially beleaguered Carolco Pictures, it’s the name of Carolco’s upcoming action-adventure film, starring Sylvester Stallone and scheduled to begin filming in March in the Italian Dolomites. But the production is not without its own suspense. Though Stallone will play a park ranger who stages a daring mountain rescue, sources say the star is afraid of heights. His high anxiety poses a potential problem for the movie, because, according to an insider, many of Stallone’s mountain scenes can’t be doubled. But the actor has no intention of dropping out. ”He’ll probably get great reviews,” says the source. ”Everyone will think the fear on his face is just acting.”


No soothing melodies or sweet harmonies here — just plenty of tantalizing talk. Will Ackerman, who founded Windham Hill Records, the leading purveyor of New Age music, in 1976, has launched a new label, Gang of Seven. ”It’s entertainment for people who appreciate language,” says Ackerman, whose father was an English professor at Stanford University. Ackerman has recruited a dozen wordsmiths, among them monologuist Spalding Gray, cartoonist Lynda Barry, and author Peter Matthiessen, to appear on First Words, the label’s debut, a compilation of personal essays, reminiscences, and excerpts from their works. It will be available in book and record stores by mid-May.


It’s the latest in what could be called Ten Speed Press’ splat series: What Bird Did That? A Driver’s Guide to Some Common Birds of North America. The photo-laden field guide promises that you’ll ”be able to quickly and easily identify that magnificent splay” on your windshield. Not for the easily nauseated.

Steve Daly, Leonard Klady, Kate Meyers, Tina Jordan