A group of 49 film and television writers took out an ad in yesterday's Daily Variety to stand by Art Buchwald and producer Alain Bernheim in their lawsuit against Paramount Pictures over compensation for their contributions to the movie "Coming to America." The ad reads: "We, the undersigned writers, support Art Buchwald and Alain Bernheim in their lawsuit against Paramount Pictures and congratulate them on the recent landmark decision in their favor handed down by the California Superior Court in Los Angeles." The judge in the case recently declared several of the provisions of Paramount's contract with Buchwald "unconscionable." Among those who signed the letter were Gore Vidal, Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart and Elaine May. TV writer Lynn Roth organized the group after being disappointed in the lack of support for the two plaintiffs from the Writers Guild of America's West Coast branch. Neil Simon Play to Premiere Here Speaking of Neil Simon, his latest play, "Lost in Yonkers," will premiere at the National Theatre Jan. 15 to benefit the Washington area Food for All Season Foundation. The performance will be followed by a reception at the Willard Hotel. Cast members Mercedes Ruehl, Kevin Spacey and Irene Worth are expected to attend, along with the playwright. Bembenek's Friend Pleads Not Guilty A Wisconsin judge yesterday entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of the man charged with helping convicted murderer Lawrencia "Bambi" Bembenek escape from prison and flee to Canada. A trial has tentatively been set for May 1 on the charges against Dominic Gugliatto, 35, a suburban Milwaukee factory worker who was engaged to Bembenek at the time of her escape last summer.
Bembenek, 32, a former police officer and Playboy club waitress, was serving a life prison sentence in the 1981 killing of her then-husband's ex-wife when she escaped.
The escape renewed interest in the 1982 trial that left many doubting Bembenek's conviction. Bembenek has maintained her innocence in the murder and remains in Canada, fighting to attain refugee status that would prevent her from being deported.
Fat Boys Rapper, Companions in Court A singer in the rap group the Fat Boys was ordered Thursday to stand trial along with three companions and a female acquaintance after they pleaded not guilty to charges of sexually abusing a minor last August at a party in Chester County, Pa. The party was videotaped, and the tape was played for District Justice Susann Welsh and attorneys. Court authorities who have seen the tape said it shows guests dancing nude and one having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Ordered to stand trial were Darren Robinson, 23, a vocalist for the Fat Boys, along with his brother and manager, Curtis Robinson, 27, as well as a bodyguard and two guests. For Sentimental Reasons Bernard Yarosz, 71, a former U.S. soldier who married a Briton and settled in her homeland, has turned down a $5.7 million offer for a rare Saxon artifact because he does not want the treasure to leave his "beloved England." While beachcombing southwest of London, Yarosz discovered a nearly 1,200-year-old manuscript pointer that belonged to the 9th-century King Alfred the Great. Since the British government ruled last month that Yarosz could keep the pointer, he has been swamped with offers, including one for $5.7 million from a foreign collector. Yarosz and his wife, Peggy, who have combined U.S. and British pensions of $133 a week, chose instead to offer the piece to the British Museum, which is appraising it before making an offer. "The money does not matter," Yarosz said. "What would I do with it at this time of my life?" Dangerfield Leaves Hospital After Tests Rodney Dangerfield was released yesterday from Memorial Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., after more than two days of tests, said hospital officials, who refused to say why the 69-year-old comedian checked in or what tests were performed. Dangerfield entered the hospital Tuesday, the day after a New Year's Eve performance at the Sunrise Musical Theatre. "Two days of tests aren't uncommon," spokeswoman Maria Pantages said yesterday, adding "There's only so many times you can take blood in a 24-hour period. As far as I know, this is just general testing."