FAMILIAR FACE
With a recurring role on NBC's ER, a memorable turn in Boogie Nights and a Best Supporting Oscar nod for last year's Fargo, William H. Macy relishes his growing recognition. But the 47-year-old actor remembers who he is even if not everybody else does. "In March my wife, Felicity, and I were in New York for my birthday, and she got me a coat at Bergdorf Goodman," recalls Macy. "The guy who measures me for this coat is very solicitous, and I can tell I've been made. I go in to change my clothes, and the guy says to Felicity, 'That's who I think it is, right?' And she says, 'Yeah.' When I walk out, he says, 'I just want to say thank you for all the entertainment.' Later, when Felicity went to pick up the coat, it said 'David Caruso' on the ticket."

STUMPING THE PROF
He may have escaped the Washington press corps, but former White House adviser George Stephanopoulos sweated out a tough grilling when he taught a Manhattan sixth-grade class last month as part of an event sponsored by the organization Teach for America. "They really knew their stuff," he says. "There were two questions that I just couldn't answer. One was, 'Why do they call Mrs. Clinton the First Lady?' I didn't know. The other one was, 'Why does Michael Jordan make so much more money than the President?' " Does the current Columbia University visiting prof, 36, have fond memories of his own teachers? "One thing I loved about working in the White House was that I heard from all my elementary school teachers," says Stephanopoulos. "They sent me pictures of when I was a nerd desperately trying to be cool."

MR. HOFFMAN REGRETS
"I don't want to cross the line; I just want to move it a little," says the sleazy journalist played by Dustin Hoffman in Mad City, a hostage drama opening Nov. 7. No, the actor didn't base his character on anyone in particular. "It would be presumptuous of me to say I'm some media expert because I played a reporter in this movie and All the President's Men," says Hoffman, adding that he has no beef with the press. "Nobody ever followed me around. But I don't know how it would be if I was a fresh baby celebrity. When I came up, they just picked on Liz Taylor." Still, he regrets not following one piece of advice: "A friend once told me, 'Never tell the truth in interviews. You're an actor. You have an imagination. Have fun! Tell them you have an alligator in your bathtub! Make it up!' " So did he? "No," Hoffman grumbles. "I never learned. And now it's too late."

STAR-SPANGLED BANTER
Oh, say, did you see Caroline in the City's Lea Thompson belt out the national anthem before Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the Florida Marlins and the Indians in Cleveland? Calling it "one of the most exciting things I've ever done," Thompson braved an icy game-time temperature of 35 degrees, with a wind-chill factor of just 15. A native Minnesotan, she's used to the cold and was a childhood Twins fan. "I remember hearing games on the radio," she says, "and going to watch them at night with the field all lit up, which seemed so magical. So whether or not mine was the greatest rendition, I had the best old time. Even though I had no feeling in my hands."