The first spontaneous laugh in the agreeable new comedy NIGHT SHIFT is provoked by a credit reading, "Written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel." Ganz, like director Ron Howard and leading man Henry Winkler, is an alumnus of the "Happy Days" series. Babaloo Mandel, naturally, sounds like a ringer.
For the sheer goofiness of it all, here's his "biography" as presented in the press kit for the film: "Babaloo Mandel is the son of Hungarian emigrants who fled to America seeking freedom from religious persecution. His parents were big fans of Desi Arnaz, which is why they named him 'Babaloo' and his younger sister 'Oh, Lucy.' He demonstrated a talent for comedy writing at the age of eight, which, coincidentally, is the same age he learned to walk. Mandel briefly attended Columbia University as a Journalism major but soon left for Hollywood. He struggled for many years writing for television under the pseudonym Babaloo Smith." Oh, Lucy, indeed.
AFI program director Mike Clark wishes to alert ROY ROGERS fans that the nostalgic double-bill of BELLS OF CORONADO and TRAIL OF ROBIN HOOD, scheduled for 8:30 Tuesday, will definitely be adorned by a 35mm Technicolor print of the latter, one of the more whimsical and beguiling Rogers vehicles.
FLYERS, the third IMAX production for the National Air and Space Museum, begins regular showings next Friday, following press previews Thursday morning. On the same day local filmmakers Hal and Marilyn Weiner will join Milton Berle at the Hotel Fairfax in a press conference to announce plans for a dramatic feature, FAMILY BUSINESS, scheduled to be shot entirely in Washington and eventually premiered as part of a Public Broadcasting Service series.
Finally, the Gold Mountain Radio Collective and the Organization of Pan-Asian American Women will sponsor two programs of recent documentary films on the lives of Asian-Americans, in Lecture Hall 1 of the Ward Circle Building at AMERICAN UNIVERSITY. The programs begin at 7 on August 20 and 21. Tickets are $3 for a single program or $5 for both. Call 864-6333.
To return briefly to "Night Shift," at one point the characters stroll past a porn theater featuring something called "A Midsummer Night's Wet Dream," which only serves to remind you how lamely Woody Allen's latest movie is titled and contrived. It also appears that A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S SEX COMEDY may fade from the marketplace faster than any of Allen's previous films, the barren "Stardust Memories" included. It dipped 50 percent on its second weekend in Washington, usually an Allen stronghold. THE ROAD WARRIOR is revving up in the wings and now seems a pretty definite replacement on or about August 20.
Reminders of upcoming special events: A two-day film and discussion program devoted to the career of LIV ULLMANN is scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday at the American Film Institute Theater. Ullmann, currently starring at the Kennedy Center in "Ghosts," will appear between screenings of FACE TO FACE and THE EMIGRANTS at the Sunday program to talk about her work. Call 828- 4055 for ticket information. The prices, which include screenings of four features, a documentary profile and a video production of the Cocteau monologue "The Human Voice," range from $30 for full-time students to $40 for AFI members to $55 for nonmembers.