He's a rock star, he's a video star and now he's gonna be a movie star.
That, at least, is the master plan for David Lee Roth, former lead singer of the rowdy rock group Van Halen and, for the past year, a solo artist whose "Crazy From the Heat" record has given him hits with updated versions of old songs like "Just a Gigolo."
Roth has parlayed his easy-going flamboyance into the kind of visibility that hard-rock singers almost never achieve, and a good deal of his success is due to the videos he's made with codirector Pete Angelus. And since it's a Hollywood truism never to mess with a good thing, Roth's first film project will have the same title as his solo record. It will also be written, directed and produced by Roth and Angelus, and will concern a flashy rock 'n' roll star who heads for the Caribbean (sounds like the cover of Roth's record), only to find an unscrupulous manager has been taking advantage of him.
Things are supposed to get under way late this year under the aegis of CBS Productions, which issued a statement promising "a combination of fine art and pizza delivery." Roth, incidentally, will contribute songs to the movie. Eddie Van Halen, one of Roth's former partners in Van Halen, says he also was asked if he'd like to contribute some music. Since Eddie thinks David's ego broke up the band, and since Eddie makes no bones about the fact that he's not terribly fond of his ex-partner anymore, he declined . . .
Meanwhile, the guy who helped show that 1980s rock stars could indeed turn hit records into hit movies has lined up his next project. Prince's follow-up to "Purple Rain" will be "Under the Cherry Moon," which has been described by Prince's managers as "a contemporary romance, with music." The diminutive rocker will portray a pianist in a bar in France; directing is Mary Lambert, whose biggest claim to fame is Madonna's video "Like a Virgin." But don't expect much purple from Prince this time around: The film will be shot in black and white . . .
Barbra Streisand hasn't signed anything yet, but she's negotiating to play the role of a prostitute on trial in Mark Rydell's film version of "Nuts." Debra Winger was formerly in contention . . . William Hurt, meanwhile, has been signed for another film version of an acclaimed play, Paramount's film of Mark Medoff's "Children of a Lesser God" . . . And Jessica Lange and Sissy Spacek will play two of the three sisters in the film of Beth Henley's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Crimes of the Heart" . . . Lange, incidentally, has bought film rights to "Machine Dreams," Jayne Anne Phillips' acclaimed novel of coming of age in the heartland . . .
From the halls of Washington, D.C., to the basketball courts of Indiana: Gene Hackman moves from Sidney Lumet's story of Washington maneuvering, "Power," to the tale of a down-on-his-luck high school basketball coach, "Hoosiers." The movie starts filming this fall, and its producer says it's a "Rocky"-type story of underdog athletes triumphing . . . "Masters of the Universe" isn't the only upcoming movie that will take cartoon and comic book characters and put them in a live-action movie. Universal Pictures and Lucasfilm Ltd. have signed an agreement to develop a feature film called "Howard the Duck," based on Marvel Comics' early-'70s cartoon character, once described as "a duck from another dimension trapped in a world he never made." Willard Huyck will direct; he also wrote the screenplay with Gloria Katz.
To no one's surprise, the New York Film Festival has been hearing complaints about its plan to show Jean-Luc Godard's "Hail, Mary." The film -- which depicts the Virgin Mary as a teen-ager who works in a gas station, and includes nude scenes -- has drawn protests in Italy, including criticism from the pope. When the festival scheduled it, callers reportedly tied up the switchboard at Lincoln Center. The Film Society of Lincoln Center has called the movie "both critical and sympathetic -- ironic, perhaps even irreverent, but not disrespectful."