August 21, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

STARRING Kenneth Branagh, Judy Davis, Joe Mantegna, Famke Janssen, Leonardo Dicaprio, Charlize Theron, Winona Ryder, Vanessa Redgrave, Jeffrey Wright, Isaac Mizrahi, Anthony Mason, Melanie Griffith, Saffron Burrows, Bebe Neuwirth, Gretchen Mol, Alfred Molina, Frederique Van Der Wal

DIRECTED BY Woody Allen

Allen has never put much stock in being timely or hip, but with this comedy, the Dixieland-loving auteur taps into something far from the fussy salons of his usual fare: Leomania! Sure, DiCaprio’s role is small, but that didn’t keep Celebrity from turning into a shrieking case of art imitates life: Leo, after all, plays a screen idol pursued by a hack writer (Branagh) and hordes of screaming teenyboppers, played by extras ”in a state of advanced hysteria,” Branagh reports. ”Ironically, they had to be calmed down in order to be told that they needed to scream. When we came to do it, they were forever screaming ‘Leo! Leo! Leo!’ Woody couldn’t understand this and got very cross.” True to its title, Celebrity is packed with famous people playing famous people, including Theron as a supermodel, and NBA star Mason as an NBA star. Watch for a nightclub scene in which the pair gives new meaning to the word foxtrot. ”I’m just grinding away on him, throwing my legs around him,” Theron reports. ”This poor guy had no idea what was coming his way, but he was super-cool about it.” Hmmm. We wonder why. (Moved to November)

THE LOWDOWN Allen couldn’t be mining the zeitgeist at a better time: With financial cutbacks jeopardizing his independence, the guy needs a hit.

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