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What They Did on Their Summer Hiatus

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You wouldn’t always know it, but yes, there are other television stars out there besides the Friends. And if David, Jennifer, and Matt can try their hand at movie stardom, these other household saints can too — only without all the fanfare. Here’s a roundup of your favorite living room, uh, acquaintances making the giant leap.

The Truth About Cats and Dogs (April 19) finds The Larry Sanders Show‘s Janeane Garofalo as Abby, the host of a radio show for pet lovers (hence the title). When an adorable photographer (Brit Ben Chaplin, touted as the new Hugh) seeks to discover the face behind the intriguing voice, Abby enlists her beautiful neighbor (Uma Thurman) to assume her identity. Garofalo could identify with her character to a point. ”I have the insecurities she has,” she says, ”but I’m a case-by-case pet person. I cannot stand little yappy pot roasts. When I see them I want to kick ’em.”

Peter Berg, best known as Chicago Hope‘s hockey-loving Dr. Billy Kronk, switches sports to play The Great White Hype (April 26), a boxer-turned-rock star lured out of retirement by fight promoter Samuel L. Jackson. For authenticity’s sake, Berg took a couple of sucker punches from fighting foe Damon Wayans (formerly of In Living Color). ”Damon claims they were by accident,” Berg jokes, ”but I don’t believe him for a second.”

Wayans gets better reviews from his costars in Celtic Pride (April 5), in which he plays a Utah Jazz basketball phenom kidnapped by Celtics fanatics Dan Aykroyd and Daniel Stern. NYPD Blue‘s Gail O’Grady appears as Stern’s sore-sport wife. Ex-SNL star Adam Sandler also catches the jock bug in Happy Gilmore (Feb. 16), the story of a pro hockey player who tries his powerful slap shot on the golf course. (Watch for Happy’s encounter with special guest star Bob Barker at a celebrity tournament.) And Rhea Perlman stars in Sunset Park (April 26), a sort of Mr. Holland’s Hoop Dreams about an inexperienced basketball coach who transforms a wayward varsity squad into a winning team.

Other TV folks making the move from your house to the movie house: Perlman’s erstwhile Cheers colleague Kelsey Grammer leads a clueless submarine crew in the underwater spoof Down Periscope (March 1). Ellen DeGeneres lives her own nightmare when she gets involved with Mr. Wrong (Feb. 16), a freak show of a boyfriend played by Bill Pullman. Ricki Lake’s romantic prospects go equally awry when she is mistaken for the newly married Mrs. Winterbourne (April 19), costarring Shirley MacLaine and Brendan Fraser as her skeptical would-be relations. And in If Lucy Fell (March 8), best buds Sarah Jessica Parker and Too Something‘s cocreator-star Eric Schaeffer make a pact to jump-start their love lives. While Parker dates an out-there artist (Ben Stiller), Schaeffer woos his neighbor, played by Elle Macpherson. Quizzed on his love scenes with the supermodel, Schaeffer replies: ”Elle, schmelle. As if I need to go through the monumental war of making a film just to kiss a pretty girl.” What a kidder.

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