The top entertainment news for the week of April 12, 1996

By Jessica Shaw
Updated April 12, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

Not only is ER‘s George Clooney good with the laid up, he’s pretty good with a layup, too. Clooney’s Dr. Ross is often seen shooting hoops on the hit NBC series, but he’s not acting. Or so says his regular basketball partner Jaleel White, better known as Family Matters‘ Urkel. The duo, whose shows film on adjoining Warner Bros. soundstages, play two to three times a week between takes. Usually, the game is one-on-one, though ”there are always some extras who want to join in,” says White. ”But they don’t stand a chance. George has a good outside shot and, well, he is really smart.” And how did the games begin? Says White, ”The ER guys stole our hoop.”
Jessica Shaw

Talk, it turns out, isn’t so cheap. Especially if James Earl Jones (A Family Thing) is doing the chattering. The actor has found a new way to turn his Darth Vader bass voice into dollars for good causes. ”Everywhere I go, people want me to make a tape for their telephone answering machines,” says Jones, who complies as long as fans ”get out their checkbook and make a donation to a charity of my choice.” So far, Jones has raised a tidy sum. But take note: Jones has a final message about messages. ”They have to see me somewhere and ask [for a tape]. I don’t take mail or phone requests.”
Cindy Pearlman

Just another day in the life of Martha Stewart. According to her calendar in the April issue of Martha Stewart Living, after hosting an Easter egg hunt and having her septic tank pumped, America’s favorite home expert will ”leave for Mount Everest.” No, Stewart won’t be packing pitons to scale the 29,028-foot peak. Stewart says she’ll only trek to the base camp, where her friend and trip leader, avid mountaineer Sandy Hill Pittman (ex-wife of MTV founder Bob Pittman), ”will make the climb. This is my third exciting trip following [her] lead,” Stewart notes enthusiastically. Along the way, the vacationing canape queen will be keeping an eye out for quaint crafts and helpful Tibetan kitchen tips. Smoked yak, anyone?
Anthony Duignan-Cabrera

Jack Lemmon still likes it hot. Ever since 1993’s hit Grumpy Old Men, Lemmon’s career has been juiced. This month he costars with Dan Aykroyd in Getting Away With Murder, and upcoming projects include Hamlet, My Fellow Americans, and Out to Sea, which reteams him with Walter Matthau. And in the script stages: Grumpiest Old Men. Why is the two-time Oscar winner suddenly the hardest-working man in show biz? ”Damned if I know,” says Lemmon.