S "0 0 '
AMONG HIS PEERS
Martin Short fills creativity's tall order.
BY MIKE BYGRAVE
(Left to right) Jessica Lange, Cissy Spacek
and Diane Keaton are the high-powered
stars of Crimes of the Heart, based on Beth
Henley's Pulitzer Prize-winning play.
Dec.-NATIVE SON Richard Wright's classic
and tragic novel about racism in the 1930s, set
against the murder trial of a black chauffeur who
is accused of killing the daughter of his white
employer. This low-budget adaptation stars Ger-
aldine Page, Matt Dillon, Elizabeth McGovern
and Oprah Winfrey.
Dec.-PLATOON Director-writer Oliver Stone
knows a thing or two about Vietnam from per-
sonal experience. And now he's going to tell
you. This gritty, realistic war drama about the
soldiers who served in the conflict's most har-
rowing battles stars Charlie Sheen, Willem Da-
foe, Tom Berenger, Matt Penn and Kevin Dillon.
Martin Short is, well, short. At five
feet, eight ("and a half!l") inches,
the ex-Saturday Night Live star
and creator of the infamous Ed
Grimley can't hold a candle to Chevy Chase's six
feet, four inches, or even Steve Martin's six feet
even. But this is one time when size works to his
advantage, distinguishing Short-in his first film
role-from his more lofty co-stars, Chase and
Martin, in The Three Amigos, a comedy-musi-
cal-Western. (Heigh-ho Silver, awayl)
Size apart, Short has, in his own estimation,
"a boyish quality,'' which serves him well in The
Three Amigos where he plays Ned (formerly
'Little Neddy Knickers") Nederlander, the "little
guy" among a trio of stars from Hollywood's
silent film days. While the three are on a visit to
Mexico, the inhabitants of a poor village mistake
them for real Western heroes and recruit them to
fight local banditos.
In person, like many comedians, Short is alive-
ly, articulate, essentially serious man who
doesn't seem at all boyish ("I know. It comes out
in my work."). Though Short, Chase and Martin,
strangers when they met, did indeed become
friends during the filming of Three Amigos, any-
one expecting tales of demolished cantinas and
wild and crazy practical jokes is in for a disap-
pointment. Actually, they're a pretty tame trio.
"We played a lot of games. Scrabbe. Triviat
Pursuit. If Chevy was filming, Steve and I played
dominoes. My trailer became ''The Three Ami-
gos Clubhouse,'" and that's where we ate lunch
and played our games.''
There was a serious purpose to the game-
playing, since The Three Amigos are supposed
to be fast and old friends on film, and "you can't
really fake that. We had to be friends for the film
to work best, and fortunately, we all got on to-
gether very well."
One thing they didn't do very much of was talk
over old times. While Saturday Night Live has
become a vital cog in many new comic careers,
working on it is not something you look back on
with unalloyed pleasure. Says the Canadian-born
Short, "When Chevy and I did talk about it, our
experiences were very similar. Of course, when
he did SNL, the show was brand new, and when
I went there, it was an established show. But
basically any time you write your own material on
a show, it means you're there all the time. It's
unrelenting. From the beginning, I only signed a
one-year contract, and I left when the year was
up. I don't think it would have been fair to my
family to do more."
Like SNL creator and Three Amigos co-writer
and producer, Lorne Michaels, (who recom-
mended Short for the film although the two men
had never worked together), Short came up
through the ranks of Canadian show business.
Now 34, he went straight from McMasters Uni-
versity to the cast of a Canadian Godspett ("my
'class' of Godspell included Gilda Radner and
Andrea Martin and our pianist was Paul Shaffer")
before heading to Los Angeles and the television
series, The Associates. He also played with To-
ronto's Second City company before making his
real mark on SCTVL and then on Saturday Night
Live. The rest is history.
"Ed Grimley actually developed out of a char-
acter I did with Second City. There was an exist-
ing sketch called 'Sexist' when I joined the com-
pany (Short recently recreated 'Sexist' with
Harold Ramis for Comic Relief, the comedy fund-
raiser for the homeless of last summer that was
organized by Robin Williams, Whoopie Goldberg
and Billy Crystal). Another actor had played it, so
when I took over the part, I naturally wanted to
make it a little different. I changed the voice, and
I started to grease my hair to give it a funny look.
One night I put the hair right up, and the audience
laughed, and my tendency is, if they laugh, keep
it!" A sound performance philosophy.
Grimley's emergence then moved to the
with another ape. But she's in love with Brian
Kerwin and he's . . . well, it's going to get real
messy. This version is brought to you by the
same folks responsible for the 1976 remake.
Dec. 19-CRIMES OF THE HEART The
most intriguing cast of the season is featured in
this adaptation of Beth Henley's Pulitzer Prize-
winning black comedy. Diane Keaton, Sissy Spa-
cek and Jessica Lange play three offbeat sisters
who gather at their childhood home in the South
after the youngest of the trio murders her hus-
band. Also in the cast are playwright Sam Shep-
ard and Tess Harper.
Dec. 25-BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS
Neil Simon's semi-autobiographical Broadway
comedy about growing up in Depression-era
Brooklyn was one of his biggest hits in years.
Now it comes to the screen with Jonathan Sil-
verman in the lead role and Blythe Danner, Bob
Dishey and Judith Ivey as members of his overly
Dec-THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
What began as a movie and then became a
stage play is back to being a movie again. Only
this time the rather offbeat story about a neb-
bishy greenhouse employee and his relationship
with a jealous, person-eating houseplant is a big-
budget musical. Rick Moranis is the star (no, not
as the plant, as the nebbish), and Steve Martin
and Bill Murray show up in cameo roles.
Native Son, from Richard Wright's power-
ful novel of racial hatred, stars Victor Love
and Akosua Busia.
Dec. 25-THE MORNING AFTER Jane
Fonda momentarily changes out of her exercise
tights to play an alcoholic, has-been actress
who's framed for murder. Jeff Bridges plays the
unlikely redneck accomplice who helps her es-
cape the law. Raul Julia plays her ex-husband.
Dec-SQUARE DANCE Island Pictures, the
company that has turned out such sophisticated
hits as Kiss of the Spider Woman and Mona Lisa,
makes another contribution to grown-up enter-
tainment with this drama about a young girl who
leaves the security of her grandfather's Texas
farm to spend the summer with the mother who
deserted her many years before. Jane Alexander
is the irresponsible mother, Jason Robards is the
grandfather, Rob Lowe is the young man who
offers the girl her first taste of romance and Wi-
nona Ryder stars as the young teenager.
The Platoon, screenwriter Oliver Stone's
(Year of the Dragon, Salvador) gritty look at
the Vietnam war, stars Charlie Sheen.
Neil Simon's affectionate reminiscence of
Depression-era Brooklyn, Brighton Beach
Memoirs, stars Jonathan Silverman.