Stars read audio books -- Edward Norton, Kevin Spacey, and Gillian Anderson lend their voices to projects

Stage, screen, and TV are all fine, but stars who really want to command attention are turning to another medium: audio books. No longer the province of foreign-language primers, books on tape have become a popular celeb outlet. With everyone from Edward Norton (reading Tom Wolfe’s novella Ambush at Fort Bragg) to Kevin Spacey (who’s recorded Richard Russo’s Nobody’s Fool) getting into the act, it seems reading is fundamental…for acting. Since the pay’s rather modest — typically $100 to $150 per recorded hour — most stars get involved ”because they love the author or the project,” says BDD Audio Publishing’s Christine McNamara. ”And it gives them the chance to play a whole cast. It’s a good way to keep in acting shape.” Other readers include John Malkovich (Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist) and Ally McBeal’s Peter MacNicol (Pat Conroy’s Beach Music). The most interesting matchup: Gillian Anderson breathily murmuring Exit to Eden, Anne Rice’s soft-porn romp. Says Random House Audiobooks’ Carrie Kania, ”How every 16-year-old boy who worships her doesn’t own this is beyond me.”