What looked like a major foul-up had a happy ending yesterday for two dozen Soviet Georgian actors. Members of the Georgian Film Actors' Studio Theatre, performing by invitation at the Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger this week, found themselves unable to return to Tbilisi after a snafu over airline tickets with the Soviet carrier Aeroflot. With virtually no seats available on flights until the end of November, and hotel rooms reserved only through the 14th, plans had been made to move the actors to the basement of the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church. As they were boarding a bus yesterday, the hotel management came to the rescue.
"They've been such wonderful guests all week," said Holly Boginis, marketing director of the Embassy Suites Hotel at the Chevy Chase Pavilion. Although a few of the actors managed to find airline seats back home this week, most opted to remain until the end of the month: They will have a chance to celebrate their first Thanksgiving. "Aeroflot doesn't know what a beautiful present they have given us," said actress Rusudan Bolkzadze.
Desert Gifts Hard-boiled mystery writer Mickey Spillane has done his bit for the troops overseas. He has written an eight-part tale of South Carolinian intrigue, designed, he says, to "keep the guys reminded of Myrtle Beach," whose air base is home to the 354th Tactical Air Force. Spillane, a WWII pilot, lives near the base, worked quickly on the project after being approached with the idea by Maj. John Elrod. The story will be sent in installments to Saudi Arabia via fax machine, then distributed to the soldiers, who are to search for clues to solve the mystery and qualify for prizes such as airline tickets. The plot revolves around the whereabouts of a kidnapped fictional beauty queen, so you know the Myrtle Beach contingent will have a leg up on the rest of the troops in solving the mystery.
Also headed their way is a gift from Oliver North's Freedom Foundation. The Sterling organization has set up "Operation Homefront" to send holiday packages to troops stationed in Saudi Arabia. Included in each package are such items as lip balm, sun screen, writing materials, playing cards and disposable razors, along with a card with an inspirational message.
That Rumor About That Girl Could the rumors be true? Are Phil and Marlo finished? Yes, according to Desmond Atholl, an assistant to the couple and author of the forthcoming book "That Girl and Phil." Speaking on WJFK radio yesterday, Atholl said that talk show host Phil Donahue and actress Marlo Thomas have been separated for the past "three to four months," and that Thomas is living in Cleveland, while Donahue is at their Connecticut estate.
Universal Arson Case A security guard who reportedly confessed to relatives that he set the Universal Studios backlot fire pleaded not guilty to arson yesterday and his lawyer said the defendant is "very, very distraught."
Michael John Huston, 40, did not speak during a brief arraignment at which the judge set his next court appearance for Dec. 13 and ordered him held on $300,000 bail.
Outside court, his attorney, Charles English, said he was looking into reports that Huston had a mental disability relating to his service in Vietnam. "He is very, very distraught ... I don't sense at this point that he is suicidal. He's anxious to get this moving and find out the evidence against him," English said.
Elizabeth Glaser to the Podium Elizabeth Glaser, wife of actor Paul Michael Glaser, will be the keynote speaker at the Whitman-Walker Clinic's Volunteer Recognition Dinner tomorrow night at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Elizabeth Glaser, who is HIV-infected from a blood transfusion, founded the Pediatric AIDS Foundation in 1988 to fund research on children with the disease. Two of her children contracted the disease before she learned she had it. The dinner will honor some 1,600 volunteers who have worked with the clinic during the past year. Scheduled to attend are D.C. Council members John Ray, Betty Ann Kane and Jim Nathanson.
Joining the Joyners Track star Florence Griffith Joyner gave birth to 6-pound 4-ounce Mary Ruth Griffith Joyner on Tuesday. Joyner, who won three gold medals and one silver at the Seoul 1988 Summer Olympics, is married to Al Joyner, an Olympic gold medalist in the 1984 games in Los Angeles. The couple are reported to be "ecstatic" over their first child.