NOT ONE FOR THE GIFFORD
Kathie Lee Gifford won't be home in Connecticut for the holidays. Instead, she'll take a quiet, two-week respite in Colorado with Frank and the kids, Cody, 4, and Cassidy, 1. "No phones, no parades, no football games and a minimum of gifts," says Gifford, 41. But she'll sing in the holidays for TV viewers on her CBS special, airing Dec. 21. "I wanted to call it Looking for Christmas in a Crazy World, but CBS didn't like using the word crazy and renamed it Kathie Lee...Looking for Christmas. I'm not sure if that's a compliment—like I've reached Cher status and can drop my last name—or if CBS is hoping a few of those A tune in by mistake."

STAR DATE WITH DESTINY
As Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, successor to William Shatner's revered Capt. James Kirk, Patrick Stewart is at the helm of the immensely profitable Star Trek franchise. But that doesn't mean the British thespian's billfold is overflowing. In fact, while he was in Los Angeles to promote Star Trek Generations, Stewart found his pockets empty and bravely beamed himself to an ATM in the dead of night. "I knew it was dangerous—the cash machine was in the middle of nowhere," says Stewart, 54. "I was standing in the dark, and the same car circled me twice. I was getting nervous. The machine spat out my cash, and I raced back to my car. But the other car pulled up, turned off its lights, and a huge man got out. 'Captain Picard?' the man yelled. 'Yes,' I said. And the man dropped to his knees and screamed,'] love this town!' "

A CIGAR IS NOT JUST A CIGAR
"Reasonable doubt for a reasonable fee," reads the business card of Picket Fences' cagey counselor Douglas Wambaugh (Fyvush Finkel), who on a recent episode argued a case before a look-alike U.S. Supreme Court coached by the real-life master Alan Dershowitz. "I'm having the best time of my life," says Finkel. "I call it a miracle that a man of 72 with three grandchildren and one greatgrandson should get a series." And win an Emmy, which he carries with him. "If I go to New York, it goes to New York," says Finkel. Otherwise, success hasn't spoiled him. "The only thing that's changed is now I can rent a better car, stay in a nicer hotel and smoke a better brand of cigar."

TRUE GRIT
Courtney Thorne-Smith, better known as the sweet, vulnerable Alison of Melrose Place, showed her tougher side in Breach of Conduct, a movie airing this month on USA. "This character was the opposite of Alison," Thorne-Smith, 27, says of playing a military wife. "When she gets backed into a corner, she comes out fighting. Alison needs to be a victim." Even off the Melrose set, the outspoken Thorne-Smith suffers from typecasting. "Alison is a very specific character," she says. "People have misperceptions about me. In fact, I've gotten yelled at by men I date: 'I thought you were just this sweet, little, funny thing.' I go, 'I'm sorry, but there's something else to me.' "