''Rain Man,'' Robin Williams, and Lou Reed made headlines this week

By EW Staff
Updated October 20, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Entertainment news for July 19, 1991

It won a clutch of Oscars and grossed more than $400 million, but according to a recent MGM/Pathé ”profit” statement (for the period from November 1990 to February 1991), 1988’s Rain Man is still more than $27 million away from breaking even. Worse, because of a complex deal with actors Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise and director Barry Levinson as well as escalating interest charges, the film is actually generating more costs than revenues. The statement indicates that Rain Man earned about $830,000 compared with expenses of more than $2 million during the four months; interest fees were roughly $591,000.

Skipper Robin Williams will wander the globe in search of a friendly port to dock his garbage scow in The First Step, which will be the first part of an 11-segment feature film. The movie, scheduled to start shooting in September, will include satiric sketches addressing environmental issues. One, by novelist Tama Janowitz, involves mermaids who relocate to a plush Costa del Sol hotel when their regular habitat becomes polluted. Other sections will be directed by such talents as Fred Schepisi, James Ivory, and Andrei Konchalovsky. Debra Hill is producing for the Guber- Peters Entertainment Company and Columbia Pictures, with all profits earmarked for ecological organizations.

For the past three seasons fans of Dear John, NBC’s sitcom about life in a singles’ support group, have wondered what motivated Kirk (Jere Burns) to be such a womanizing jerk. The answer, coming in an early episode next season, is an eye popper: Kirk’s wife left him…for another woman. Even Burns is in the dark about the plot development. Executive producer Rod Parker is already girding for the possibility that not everyone will be tickled. ”Some guys at the network were a little nervous about the story line, but they know we’re going to handle it with taste.”

When the Walt Disney Company introduces its Hyperion adult publishing division in September, one of its first titles will be Between Thought and Expression: Selected Lyrics of Lou Reed. Does this mean the company that brought us Snow White and Cinderella will be giving the official literary nod to lyrics about drug abuse, S&M, and adventures in the sexual underworld? ”Lou Reed has been regarded by a number of critics as a modern poet,” says Charles P. Wickham, group vice president in charge of Disney Publishing, adding, ”This is Hyperion — you have to take Disney out of the equation here. It’s like Pretty Woman, which was appropriate for Touchstone (Disney’s adult movie division) but not for Disney.”

Written by: Leonard Klady, Alan Carter, David Browne