STRIPTEASING: When Marky Mark wouldn’t promise to lose his shirt for a recent show at the Miami gay club Paragon, he was fired from the gig. ”Paragon wanted him to perform in his underwear and wanted it in the contract,” says Mark’s spokesman, Richard Channer. Paragon’s manager, Dennis Hoheny, says he only insisted on the rider because of Mark’s own double standards: ”He was doing things in straight clubs that he wasn’t doing in gay clubs.” Since then, Mark apparently had a change of heart — if not shorts. He flashed his pecs at another Florida gay club, Miami’s Warsaw Ballroom, and even earned rave reviews. ”He took off his shirt,” says owner Leandro Nunez, ”and dropped his pants.”
BATTING: Now stepping up to the plate is Penny Marshall, who has signed on to bring A League of Their Own, her movie starring Geena Davis about a ’40s all-female baseball league, to CBS. NBC also vied for the rights, but CBS won the franchise by coming up with the right financial package. Marshall will executive-produce and direct the first of six episodes. No one has been cast yet, but it is a mid-season replacement that could air as early as April — just in time for Opening Day.
PASSING: Songwriter and pianist Thomas A. Dorsey, called the ”Irving Berlin of gospel” by Mahalia Jackson, died Jan. 23 at the age of 93 of Alzheimer’s disease. Combining old-time spirituals with the blues in the 1920s, Dorsey was widely credited as the chief creator of gospel music, and he went on to write more than 100 gospel standards, including ”(There’ll Be) Peace in the Valley (for Me)” — a hit for Elvis Presley in 1957 — and ”Take My Hand, Precious Lord.”
SUING: George Wendt and John Ratzenberger, who play barflies Norm and Cliff on NBC’s Cheers, have filed suit against Host International over a couple of drinking robots. Designed by Universal Studios’ special-effects department, the robots warm stools at each of Host’s seven Cheers bars, located in airports across the nation. ”It’s kind of like Host International is getting my guys to perform in their bars every night for free,” says the actors’ lawyer, T. Patrick Freydl. Host, whose Cheers bars are licensed by Paramount (right down to the ”Rebecca’s Chili” and the ”Sam’s Submarine Sandwich”), insists the robots are not replicas because they’re named Bob and Hank, not Norm and Cliff.
— Sharon Isaak, with reporting by Robert Hofler, David Browne