Dynamic Duos

By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
Updated October 28, 1994 at 04:00 AM EDT

In the entertainment biz, his ‘n’ hers means more than just the towels, and pillow talk often ends up on the front page of Variety. But sometimes combined forces equal diminished returns. Here are some of the industry’s highest-profile couples, ranked according to their collective clout.

1. Ted Turner and Jane Fonda (media titan; exercise-video guru and actress-producer) She gets outlets for her lefty projects (Lakota Woman and Pigs in Heaven). He gets a smattering of her PC sensibility (at least he knows what ”clitorization” is) and an old Hollywood lineage that gives this moneyed mogul movie-star glamour. * Joint returns: Their togetherness equals godliness.

2. Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley (King of Pop; rock & roll princess) He married the closest thing rock has to a royal scion; she may yet get the singing career she wants. And with her Elvis songbook to go along with his Beatles tunes, they could rule the world! * Joint returns: Yeah, they’re weird — but are they less weird together?

3. Tommy Mottola and Mariah Carey (head of Sony Music; Sony artist) The 44-year-old suit discovers and marries the delectable 24-year-old singer, thus tripling his sex appeal and assuring her of a multiplatinum recording career. * Joint returns: They raise each other one note.

4. Renny Harlin and Geena Davis (vertically endowed director; vertically endowed actress) If they can keep the waterlogged Cutthroat Island (in which she’ll star and he’ll direct) afloat, the duo should have no problem developing more films, video games, and theme restaurants through their production company, The Forge. *Joint returns: In this case, being married to the director works.

5. Harold Evans and Tina Brown (president and publisher, Random House Trade Group; editor, The New Yorker) They pack a literary double whammy when teamed up to fete each other’s writers. His impeccable credentials temper her glossy image; she makes him less stuffy. * Joint returns: Improved, but who cares about publishing?

6. Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer (director; anchorwoman) The high point of the collaboration has been her acting as hostess at a Wolf gathering. * Joint returns: Neither needs the other for clout, but they elegantly bridge the TV and movie worlds — a thinking person’s Turner and Fonda.

7. David E. Kelley and Michelle Pfeiffer (TV producer; film actress) She finds the Emmys a yawn; he seems to feel the same about movies. * Joint returns: His profile soars after marrying Hollywood’s most desired woman; she’s guaranteed a better show than Delta House should she decide to return to TV.

8. Bruce Willis and Demi Moore (actor; actress-producer) After their less-than-successful Mortal Thoughts, the two should stick to solo gigs. His bad-boy posturing isn’t helped by her diva rep, and vice versa. * Joint returns: A shared passion for stripping down.

9. Dave Pirner and Winona Ryder (Soul Asylum frontman; Gen X actress) He got a cameo in her movie Reality Bites. Now if she could only do something about his hair. * Joint returns: Winona looked better with Johnny Depp.