updated 02/26/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 02/26/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST
When she was starting out in Hollywood, Melina Kanakaredes resisted pressure to change her last name and play down her Greek roots. What a difference a hit TV series makes. When the Providence star landed the role of a TV reporter romanced by Robert De Niro in the upcoming thriller 15 Minutes, the director, John Herzfeld, insisted that her character be of Greek heritage too. "I looked over at Bob and thought, Well, playing Italians didn't do too badly for him. I said, 'Okay, but Bob has to speak Greek in the movie;" says Kanakaredes, 33, who got her wish. "The only thing that I could think of, in a very selfish way, was that all my relatives in Greece were going to see him speaking Greek. And I taught him. How cool is that?"
He has opened for Pearl Jam and Beck as half of the offbeat folk comedy duo Tenacious D (with Kyle Glass), but actor Jack Black was thrilled to spend some quality stage time with Neil Diamond in the comedy Saving Silverman. "It was very cool," says Black, 31. "I was checking out his moves to see if there was anything I could pilfer. There's something about his swagger that has a timeless quality to it." Still, the experience paled in comparison to Black's vocational high point: beating up Tim Robbins (who launched Black's film career by casting him in Bob Roberts) during a dream sequence in last year's High Fidelity. "It's not every day where a guy like me gets to take some swings at such a great artist while screaming, 'Cover your nubs!' It was a great moment in showbiz."
Pulling the plug on his weekly HBO late-night talk show after four seasons was tough for Chris Rock. "You do your show, you win Emmys, you decide it's enough," says Rock, who admits that the move occasionally gives him pause. "You know, what if Bobby Brown gets arrested again? Right now Puffy is on trial. I think that was done to torment me now that my show is over!" In addition to his new comedy, Down to Earth, Rock, 36, is planning to film another HBO comedy special during his upcoming stand-up tour. "I'm calling it the Black Ambition tour," he says, "but I won't wear a bullet bra like Madonna did when she did the Blonde Ambition tour. I don't want to copy anybody."
Saying Good Night
"I feel great about it," says Molly Shannon of her decision to exit Saturday Night Live after the Feb. 17 episode. "I did six full years and I loved it. I just felt like it was time." Shannon, 36, plans to concentrate on her film career, including her upcoming independent comedy Wet Hot American Summer. But she's well aware that the post-SNL career path can be a slippery one. "Not everything is going to be the perfect decision," she admits. "Sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss, and that's the way it goes." Either way, Shannon isn't completely through with SNL. "I'll visit," she says. "I'm going to go back and do the Mother's Day special—with my dad, because he raised me."
It's Hannibal's most buzzed-about moment: After being captured by Anthony Hopkins, Ray Liotta feasts on a most unusual delicacy. "I knew it would be a scene people would remember," says Liotta, 46. "It's nice to be in something that will last a while." As for what he was really munching on in the scene, Liotta found the substitute equally unappetizing: "It was dark-meat chicken. That was gross to begin with. It's so slimy."