HOW ON EARTH DID JOAN RIVERS
GET BILLY CRYSTAL PREGNANT?
Long before Barbra Streisand first sat
in the director's chair, another funny girl was already calling
the shots on a movie set. Surely you remember Joan Rivers' "Rabbit
Test." When I interviewed Rivers for The New York Times in
1977, at least one of us seemed sure she was destined to be the
next Mike Nichols--or, at least, Elaine May. --Guy Flatley
hero is such a good boy, so Im sure hell make a wonderful
mother," says Joan Rivers.
The heartwarmingly virtuous hero under discussion is Billy Crystal,
a versatile newcomer who will portray the worlds first pregnant
man in "Rabbit Test," an original screenplay by Joan Rivers
and Jay Redack which the blonde comedienne is now directing in Hollywood.
Rivers was jolted by the inspiration for this tale while sitting
under the dryer in a beauty salon.
"I was reading a movie magazine when all of a sudden a headline
jumped out at me--Is Elliott Gould Pregnant? Wow!
I said to myself. What a terrific idea for a movie. Too bad
I didnt think of it first. Then I realized that the
story wasnt about a movie at all; it was about Elliotts
It is conceivable that "Rabbit Test" will make a serious
point or two about sexual identities and the nature of parenthood.
"Were not making any points; were just having a
good time, making a silly movie about a poor schlep who becomes
pregnant. I figure weve got something to offend just about
every ethnic group except the Eskimos. Gay lib is in favor of the
man having the baby, but womens lib is against him because
they feel hes taking away their one unique function."
A few of the faces in the cast of "Rabbit Test" will be
more familiar than those of Billy Crystal and Joan Prather, who
plays his perplexed spouse."Roddy McDowall is playing a gypsy
grandmother," Rivers ripples on, "and Imogene Coca is
a crazed fortune teller. Paul Lynde is the obstetrician who discovers
Billy is pregnant, Alex Rocco is Billys overtrained Green
Beret brother, George Gobel is the President of the United States,
Vincent Price is the Pope, and Im going to play a small part,
too. I wish I didnt have to act in the movie, but thats
the deal I made. The thing that worries me is whos going to
say, Hey, she stinks!"
Rivers and Edgar Rosenberg, her producer--and husband--will follow
"Rabbit Test" with two more movies, one about the Rumanian
mafia and one about a broken-down comedienne. When pressed, the
zany comedienne will concede that guffaws are not her only goal.
"There is a terrifically moving scene at the end, when Billy
decides not to get an abortion and he makes a big speech that is
like something out of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
We focused our camera on Billys face and we never moved it.
It was just divine. Of course, it should have been--we shot 19 takes."
Will Billy be the proud mama of a boy or a girl? "I cant
tell you, because that would spoil the ending. But I can tell you
that weve taken out a policy with Lloyds of London,
and any man who gets pregnant while watching Rabbit Test
will receive a $2 million settlement. But only if hes married--were
aiming for a PG rating."