David Letterman, Ashley Judd, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus made news this week

Stunt Man

The Time: Midmorning. The Place: New York’s Central Park. The Scene: David Letterman performing a stupid human trick. Actually, it’s the making of a Late Show stunt. For a bit airing April 6, producers got Letterman cameo appearances in three student films. The hitch? Each had to wrap the scene in no more than five minutes — a time limit strictly enforced by a staffer with a stopwatch. Pictured above, Letterman gets ready for his close-up in NYU grad student John McNulty’s 12-minute comedy Release, the tale of a dentist who kidnaps an opera star. Despite his status as a sometime thespian, the talk-show host demanded star treatment: He insisted his scene include Cobi, the golden retriever owned by Late Show makeup artist Michelle O’Callaghan. And, according to McNulty, Dave ”even tried to leave before the five minutes were up.” Why student movies? ”You saw Cabin Boy, didn’t you?” says Late Show executive producer Rob Burnett. ”We’re trying to exploit Dave’s roots in film.”
— Kristen Baldwin

Boxed In

Maybe it’s all those shouts from South Park‘s Cartman to ”kick ass!” but Hollywood women are suddenly cuckoo for kickboxing. In last year’s Kiss the Girls, Ashley Judd uses her kickboxing skills to escape a killer. Recently, Ally McBeal‘s Calista Flockhart stepped into the ring for a one-on-one with Courtney Thorne-Smith. And Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Sarah Michelle Gellar uses her real-life brown belt in tae kwon do to pummel the undead. Not only is this funked-out martial art showing up on screen, it’s also the biggest fitness trend since step aerobics. Among its practitioners are Brooke Shields, Paula Abdul, Shannon Tweed, and Ally McBeal‘s Lisa Nicole Carson, who says she’s ”totally seduced” by the sport. ”I absolutely plan on keeping this up.” Why are celebs so punchy? ”It gets you in really good shape,” says trainer Billy Blanks. ”And physically and visually, it’s exciting.” Next thing you know, Cartman will be using it to fend off anal-probing aliens.
— Robin Tolkan


It’s must-wear TV. On sale in the new J. Peterman catalog is the Elaine Benes, a silk/wool pantsuit that ”marvelously compensates for the ten extra pounds the camera always adds.” The ensemble, says founder John Peterman, is an homage not only to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who plays his employee on Seinfeld, but also to ”a particular type of woman. A woman who’s her own person. Elaine fits that.” But don’t look for an episode featuring Elaine in the Elaine. Peterman has no plans to send one over.