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Waiting to Exhale proved there was an audience for films about strong, well-educated black women. Now Exhale star Lela Rochon is breaking ground again. In The Chamber, the latest John Grisham courtroom thriller-turned-movie, she’ll play a legal assistant, a role originally scripted for a white, blond actress. ”I just went in and I read, and the director [James Foley] was open to the fact that I could be anything,” says Rochon. The story, about a convicted killer in Mississippi, deals with such heated issues as race relations and the death penalty. So, says Rochon, ”it made sense for the character to be an intelligent black woman. After all, it’s set in current time.”
— Casey Davidson
Future entertainment-trivia collectors take note: At one time, Friends it girl Jennifer Aniston was a leading contender to play Christian Slater’s love interest in the stolen-nuke thriller Broken Arrow. According to sources, Aniston did an Arrow screen test well before viewers went rabid for Rachel, but movie execs found the chemistry between her and Slater lacking. Other criticisms: She was ”too pretty” and ”too whiny” to play the pistol-smart park ranger. Aniston wasn’t the only TV actress in the running. Fox also thought about Picket Fences‘ Lauren Holly and Mad About You‘s Helen Hunt, who opted to make Twister instead. Eventually, the role went to Slater’s real-life ex and up-and-coming actress Samantha Mathis. Needless to say, the movie’s $44.8 million gross has lessened any regret Fox might have about being Friend-less. And Aniston isn’t broken-hearted either. ”Like any actress,” says her spokesman, ”Jennifer was auditioning for a lot of parts at that time.”
— Judy Brennan
And you thought Lisa Marie Presley was fickle. Just six months ago Andrew Dice Clay dropped the ”Dice” and landed a family sitcom (CBS’ Bless This House), announcing that the Niceman Cometh. Oops! Seems the warm and fuzzy routine was even less popular (House was canceled in January) and now, like roaches in a New York apartment, the Dice is back. This May, look for the return of Clay’s trash-mouth shtick on HBO’s Assume the Position. ”[CBS] put some pressure on him to bury the Diceman,” says a spokeswoman for Clay, but now ”he’s Dicier than ever.” He must spend a fortune on stationery.