Stars: Why 'Shaft' Is So Cool

09/07/1998 AT 12:00 AM EDT

There was plenty of attitude at last night's star-studded New York premiere of the new movie "Shaft," starring Samuel L. Jackson. (Heck, Jackson had so much attitude that he didn't even speak to print journalists). But the stars did turn out, including Jackson's costar Vanessa L. Williams, Isaac Hayes (who won the best song Oscar for the theme to the original "Shaft"), Sean "Puffy" Combs, Ben Stiller, Jimmy Smits, Star Jones, Kelsey Grammer, even ex-Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry. Asked by PEOPLE, "What makes Shaft so cool?," Vincent Pastore, who plays the pretty cool Pussy on "The Sopranos," replied: "Attitude." "Shaft is a police officer," said rapper Nas. "You never think a police officer would be like him. And that's the beautiful thing." (Actually, Shaft is a former police officer.) Fellow rapper Heavy D was more succinct. "Black leather and chicks," he said. "You can't go wrong."

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