GIVING THE MAN HIS DUE
Seminal rock figure Chuck Berry was given a lifetime achievement award at Wednesday's Berlin Film Festival screening of the biographical concert film Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll. "I don't consider myself a legend," said Berry, 62. "I always thought a legend was a dead person who was praised." About performing, he added: "As you get older, you find out what's better to do. Over the last 10 years, the dancing in my shows has diminished, but the presence has developed. . . . There's a special sense that I think I have as a performer. I know when I have to change the pace, when I see the audience looking tired."
IT'S ALL IN THE TIMING
The Jimmy Swaggart scandal has had one positive effect - ticket sales have picked up appreciably at Ford's Theater in Washington, where a musical version of Sinclair Lewis' Elmer Gantry is holding forth through May. On Tuesday, the theater recorded the highest one-day advance sale in its history - $26,727.
Casey Biggs, who plays the title role of the fraudulent evangelist, said that since the Swaggart mess broke, he has noted that audiences respond knowingly when he sings such lines as, "When I say hell, I know it well; It's a place where I used to dwell," and tells of "painted women with silken skin" that Gantry's known. The show has received reviews in D.C. and is expected to land on Broadway.
MAYBE NEXT SUMMER
A production by a major Soviet theatrical company has been dropped from the schedule of the Pepsico Summerfare festival in Purchase, N.Y., and an official of the National Theater of Great Britain says it's because Vanessa Redgrave was to take part in the Mayakovsky Theater's presentation as a translator. Redgrave, who wasn't available for comment, has long pressed a case against the Boston Symphony, which canceled a 1982 appearance by her in the wake of protests of her support of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Last fall, a federal appeals court ruled the orchestra violated her civil rights with its action. Christopher Hunt, who heads Summerfare, said the Soviet company was dropped for budgetary reasons. However, Thelma Holt, director of touring for the National Theater of Great Britain, which has hosted the Mayakovsky with Redgrave in London, said Hunt wired her two weeks ago, citing several reasons for the cancellation, including security problems and a threat to block the production by an unidentified group.
YEAH, THAT'S THE TICKET
Bruce Springsteen, who opened his "Tunnel of Love Express" tour last night at the Worcester Centrum in Massachusetts, spent part of Wednesday greeting fans and signing autographs outside the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston. The rocker promised them that his first tour in 2 1/2 years would have surprises - "plenty of them," he said. But Springsteen got a surprise of his own when he returned to his van, which had been ticketed for parking too close to a fire hydrant. "Hey, I've got my own boss to answer to," said meter maid Kecia Grant.
If you've got a kid who looks like one of the old Mouseketeers - you know, Annette Funicello, Darlene Gillespie, Tommy Cole - get him or her up to Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall on March 5, when auditions will be held to cast a Disney movie on the making of the 1950s kids' show. If you can't make it to New York, send photos to Disney Studios, 500 S. Buena Vista, Burbank, Calif. 91521. If you head north, be sure the kid can sing and dance and has cassette accompaniment. "You haven't lived until you've heard 'Tomorrow' 500 times in one day," moaned casting director Matt Casella.
Also, producer Aaron Spelling and Fox Broadcasting Co. will be casting about the nation next month for four unknown actresses to star in a new Charlie's Angels TV series. Auditions in New York will be at Fox headquarters March 21. Channel 29 may hold auditions in two weeks, but as of yesterday, a decision hadn't been made.
Oleg Cassini's debut as a pro harness-racing driver Wednesday at New Jersey's Freehold Raceway was a bust. He finished last in one race, fell off his sulky in another and was told by a doctor his blood pressure was too high to race in a third. "I was fearful today as I am fearful when I open a collection," said the fashion designer, who is 74. But he rallied yesterday when he came back to ride 10-1 shot Hi Po Bay Mist to a wire-to-wire win. It paid $22.20.