Catherine Zeta-Jones, Tamara Jenkins, and the Dixie Chicks are finding their fame

Zorro’s Sword-ceress
The sword rests gently against the fireplace in her new Pacific Palisades home, but Catherine Zeta-Jones carries the mark of Zorro wherever she goes. And it can be quite a burden. After recognizing her in an L.A. bar as the woman who sliced her way to Antonio Banderas’ heart in The Mask of Zorro, a guy challenged Zeta-Jones, 28, to a duel. ”Try me again,” she said coyly, ”and I’ll cut your bits off.” She was just as sharp with Bill Clinton; an invite to a White House event prompted a no-show. ”I was too busy working,” sighs the Welsh-born beauty. Indeed: Ever since her dress got Ginsu’d on screen, she’s been cutting deals, teaming next with Sean Connery in Entrapment, then with Liam Neeson in The Haunting of Hill House. The latter finds her boasting psychic powers — fitting, given her supernatural charms.
David Hochman

Private Ryan’s Grunts
Playing soldier with stunning verisimilitude — right down to the open-eyed death rattles — they burned themselves into the hearts and minds of audiences. Now casting agents have their radar fixed on the squadron of four-star, dogfaced (okay, more like puppy-dog-faced) grunts of Saving Private Ryan. Among the actors’ new assignments: a starring role as Pete in the remake of TV’s The Mod Squad for Giovanni Ribisi, 23, who’d guested on Friends before Steven Spielberg drafted him as medic Wade. Barry Pepper, 28, Ryan‘s Baptist rifleman, showed up on Will Smith’s tail in Enemy of the State; he’ll appear opposite Hanks again in The Green Mile, Stephen King’s prison saga. The film’s anguished coward, Jeremy Davies, 29, checked into Wim Wenders’ The Million Dollar Hotel, opposite Mel Gibson (filming this month). Vin Diesel, 31, just wrapped the sci-fi thriller Pitch Black and plans to star in and direct Doormen. But postwar life seems busiest for Adam Goldberg, 28, Ryan‘s Mellish. Though he still can’t find a distributor for his pre-G.I. writing-directing bow, Scotch and Milk, he’s since jumped into EdTV for Ron Howard, plays a ’70s record producer (”complete with dashiki and Afro”) in the still-shooting Sunset Strip, and will make two TV pilots early in 1999. ”I’m finding I don’t have to do actual auditions lately,” says Goldberg. ”I take meetings.” In other words, the boot-camp thing is history.
Steve Daly

Will & Grace‘s Odder Couple
In case you’ve been watching Monday Night Football, here’s a primer on Will & Grace: The NBC sitcom is about the friendship between a gay man (lawyer Will) and a straight woman (interior decorator Grace), and while the family-values brigade has greeted the show with surprising silence, critics and viewers have gone crazy over its sidesplitting sidekicks. As Will’s other best friend, Jack, 28-year-old Sean Hayes provides a smartly rendered flamboyance (his comic skills turn a gay male stereotype into a stitch); as Grace’s rich-bitch assistant Karen, Megan Mullally, 40, can steal a scene with a sneer. Put Hayes and Mullally together, and you have the most potent comic duo since Burns and Allen (or at least since Jerry and Elaine). ”There’s a flirtatious quality to their relationship,” says Mullally, a Broadway musical vet. ”I’m the diva he’s always wanted to be.”
Jess Cagle