A quick guide to ''Shakespeare in Love,'' ''Runaway Bride,'' and ''Meet Joe Black''

It’s your umpteenth holiday cocktail party, and you’ve just concluded your umpteenth ”Where’d you find your Furby?” conversation. There’s an awkward silence as you stand there with your cup of runny eggnog, dreading a mistletoe-related humiliation on the horizon. But don’t fret, dear readers, for there are topics aplenty percolating in pop culture. To help you out, we’ve prepared a few talking points about Hollywood’s backroom shake-ups and the most surprising box office buzz. Here’s what to say to keep the party chatter chittering:

#1 Talking Point
Ask if anyone’s seen the season’s hottest trailer — no, not that one.
Affect a ”been there, done that” cool with the scoop on the trailer for Mike Myers’ Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me. This Star Wars spoof concedes that The Phantom Menace is next summer’s must-see movie, but pitches AP2 as a close second. The teaser came about when New Line, having no real footage available, made the unusual decision to shell out $400,000 to shoot Dr. Evil at his most Vader-esque. What does the notoriously protective Lucas think? ”The word is he doesn’t have a problem with it,” says New Line’s Mitch Goldman. Suggest gathering round the computer log to check out the teaser.

#2 Talking Point
Decode Shakespeare in Love.
Prove you didn’t sleep through English Lit by going all Oliver Stone on this critics’ darling. In the film, Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) has an affair with a nobleman’s daughter (Gwyneth Paltrow), which inspires Romeo and Juliet; has a fierce rivalry with Marlowe (Rupert Everett); and thinks he’s indirectly involved in Marlowe’s death. Though the Bard did at times live apart from his wife, who stayed in Stratford, there’s no info he was shagging the gentlewomen of London. There’s also no hard proof Shakespeare was driven by competition with Marlowe or had anything to do with his death. Interestingly, one theory holds that Marlowe faked his demise, ”became” William Shakespeare, and wrote the works associated with that name. Call it ”the single-quill theory.”

#3 Talking Point
Put the Pretty Woman sequel rumors to rest.
If your friends’ Christmas-movie wish list includes asking Santa for Julia Roberts to do the hooker thing again, tell ’em it’s coming next year — sorta. ”I think people have accepted that [Pretty Woman 2‘s] not gonna happen,” Roberts told EW recently. But then she added this tasty nugget: The script for Runaway Bride, her reteaming with Pretty Woman costar Richard Gere, features winking acknowledgments of their past. According to Roberts, ”When we first read [the script], I said, ‘Oh, my God. Should we take that out? Didn’t I say that 10 years ago?’ But we left them in. We’re not ignoring where we came from, we’re giving a little wink. We know you want it.” Thank you, Santa.