From Xanadu Comes
America's New Fun
Couple, Olivia and
by Sue Russell, US Magazine,
September 2, 1980
He's a born-again Christian who wowed audiences with his performance as a good-guy leader in 1979's 'The
She's a sweet little songbird who warbled her way to film fame when she debuted in 'Grease', one of
Hollywood's highest-grossing movies.
Together, the unlikely team of Michael Beck and Olivia Newton-John hope to become the new Zuko and Sandy
of movie musicals, thanks to a Busby Berkley-like fantasy, 'Xanadu'. The producers are banking on it.
After 'Grease', a sizzling hot Olivia was slated to play the role which went to Valerie Perrine in 'Can't Stop The
Music', but reportedly backed out when producer Alan Carr (who co-produced 'Grease') couldn't come up with
enough money. So "Livy" sidestepped to MGM [Universal!-don-o]-traditionally the studio behind the grandiose
Hollywood musicals-and signed for 'Xanadu'.
It's a movie that takes disco fantasy to it's extreme, boasting a million dollar set and scenes which Olivia in
costumes ranging from punk queen to cowgirl to jitter-bugging rock-n-roller. Central to the action will be Gene
Kelly-on roller skates, no less.
Olivia is featured as a Greek muse-Kira, one of the nine daughters of Zeus-who comes to earth to meddle in
the affairs of Gene Kelly and Michael Beck. Thanks to her celestial presents, Kelly is able to realize his dream
of a heavenly fantasyland where all kinds of song and dance coexist in blessed-out harmony.
"To think it could compete with 'Grease' isn't realistic," admits Olivia, who to date has put $12 million in the
bank from her shares in that smash hit. "It would be nice if it dose half as well."
Co-star Beck isn't half as well-known as her 'Grease' partner, John Travolta, but his talent is wildly
reconized-especialy Newton-John. "He was the only one I felt comfortable with-and they liked the look of us
together," says Olivia. "I'd seen him in 'The Warriors' and though he was terrific."
Michael was born and raised in Memphis; he got his career start in England, however, where he worked with a
traveling experimental theater troupe for five years. "You got beer money, but that was it," he says of that
period of his life.
The controversy which surrounded 'The Warriors' confounds Michael. "It's like a cowboy movie, a fantasy. You
could almost see little bubbles coming out saying 'pow!'
About the fight which erupted after one screening of the movie, where a moviegoer was killed, he says, "If a
guy has a gun in his pocket, I can't say that the movie made him put it there."
Michael is enthusiastic about his ruby-throated co-star. "She's the first superstar I've worked with, and I was
thrilled that she's a humble, gracious lady," he reports.
Olivia and Michael are united in their awe of their co-star Gene Kelly. I didn't think I would ever meet him,"
So far, the gossip mill has not linked the two on-camera lovebirds romantically in their off-the-set life. "I like to
read each week who I'm supposed to be in love with," says Olivia, giggling. "It kind of makes it interesting for
me." In last year, she has been reported to be involved with John Travolta and Andy Gibb; all parties deny the
allegations. "I try to keep my private life private," she adds.
Right now she is happily single, having broken off with live-in boyfriend/manager Lee Kramer last winter.
Even though she can laugh about it, Olivia says that she would prefer to be able to live without the attention
she can't help getting.
"People think you are going to walk in and be ten feet tall, you know?" she says. "And you're really just a
person. A lot of people find it very hard to get through that."
Michael is relying on his religion to help him way through the pitfalls on the way to stardom. "I hope and pray
that I will remain the person I'm growing to be," he says. "There are going to be pressures. And I am grateful
that the Lord is at the center of my life."
Michael has plans to marry "within the next year" his fiancee, Cari, whom he met at church in New York. "It
would be difficult to marry if we didn't seek the same God, " he says. He plans to keep his studio apartment in
Manhattan, even though he is finishing up his third film in LA. "I still find New York more fulfilling," he explains.
His soon-to-be wife shares Michael's excitement about his career. "She's real supportive." he says. "We talk
about stardom. She wants me to be fulfilled to all of my potential as a human being."
Michael and Cari carefully avoid life in the fast lane and stays vehemently anti-drugs. "I gave up drugs before I
became a Christian," says Michael. "Freedom in drugs is a fallacy. Really, you're only hooked on them."
Meanwhile, Olivia has retreated to her home in the Malibu hills, with her eight dogs, a stable of horses, and a
tennis court to keep her busy. "There are never enough hours in the day to do everything you want," she
says. "But I make the time for myself because I think it's important."
(c) 1980 US Magazine