George Stevens is of two minds about his weekends. "There's the good me and the bad me," says the chairman of the board of the American Film Institute.
"The good me gets up at 6:30 in the morning, has a half-grapefruit and a cup of coffee, runs three miles, works on a script for two hours, goes to my son Michael's football game, then goes to David's school play and then helps Liz in the garden.
"Then there's the other me," says Stevens, "who sleeps till 10, has pancakes for breakfast, loafs around and goes to lunch with Art Buchwald at Mel Krupin's, watches football all afternoon, then has a nap -- and eats a quart of Haagen-Dazs while the game is on."
Stevens is so rapacious about ice cream that he calls vanilla "perfectly acceptable." But as for the game -- ay, there's the rub. What does the fan do during an NFL football strike? "I think back over great Redskin triumphs," Stevens says.
It's reached the desperation point: "I am ashamed that my reading is so thorough I scanned the high-school football rankings this morning," he says. "There's gotta be a Santa Claus -- we can't get by.
"I think that's one of the nice things in the fall. It seems like much more, but those six or eight home games are an appealing way to spend a Sunday afternoon." He doesn't own season tickets but knows enough people who do to make him a regular.
Apparently, a football game meets a need. "It's conclusive," says Stevens. "It's one of the few definite things in life."
Without the weekend's anchor, there are still movies to watch -- though Stevens, who is the son of the late director George Stevens, says he doesn't go to as many movies as one might think. Of course, he attends screenings at the A.F.I. He likes the Circle Theater, too: "Weekend afternoons seem particularly suited to foreign films," he says. He recommends "Diva" and "Lola," but "there's not a particularly rich harvest out there now," he says.
"I look at films in the continuum, the idea that enjoyment of films is looking at the whole history of films, not just what happens to have come out in the last couple of months -- anymore than if you're interested in painting, you would only go see what's new at a gallery."
Off the top of his head, he lists his all- time favorite films as, " 'Lawrence of Arabia,' it will sound quite obvious, but '81/2,' anything by Chaplin or Harold Lloyd, with a special affinity to certain films of my father, which include 'Alice Adams,' 'Gunga Din,' 'A Place in the Sun,' 'Shane' and 'Giant.' "
One of the things he's doing in his free time is a documentary about his father. "Everybody told me I should write a book about my father, and I kept stepping up to it and then not doing it," says Stevens. "But I found I had an opportunity to do something no one has ever done before -- that is, to make a film about his own father." He expects it to appear on television early next year.
Another project, the annual Kennedy Center Honors in December, he considers his best-ever weekend, full of excitement and emotion. In a weekend of paying homage to five American artists, there's a reception at the White House and, at the Kennedy Center Opera House, an honors gala that Stevens writes and produces with a colleague. "For many, it's fulfilled an ideal of what our capital can and should be culturally," he says.
"We have the good fortune to live in a very nice town. I think Washington is a wonderful place for weekends -- the ambiance, the galleries, the Kennedy Center, movie theaters. There's a lot to do."
Stevens says he goes to the Kennedy Center "not very often -- once every two weeks." It doesn't leave much time for parties. "You mean those famous Georgetown parties?" Stevens asks. "I can't find any. I think that went out with Billy Carter -- up until he came to town.
"We don't go to many parties," he says, "we just have a few people over. We feed them and expect them to be entertaining -- and, invariably, they are."
At home, he plays tennis at a court surrounded by oak trees, and, if winning is important, it's "not enough to make myself miserable in those rare occasions that it turns out otherwise," he says. He plays basketball with his two boys at the hoop in the yard, and baseball in season. "That's why weekends are important," he says. "That's a great time to be home with one's family."
As for doing things around the house, "I am notorious," says Stevens. "I intend to improve. I don't make huge claims."
On the weekends, Stevens compromises somewhere between the good George and the bad. "I am capable of constructing the finest of good intentions, will yield to no one," he says. "Then there are a great many fallback positions from that -- which result in ascending levels of pleasure."