BACK TO THE BOOKS There are those who read for pleasure, and then there are those who read when Oprah Winfrey tells them to. The latter group has had it easy since the talk-show host disbanded her book club last year, but the guiltless hours spent watching TV or picking up a book only in order to drop it on a cockroach are over. Oprah is reviving the club, but this time she will focus on the classics. This should help avoid any unpleasantness, such as the flap that arose with author Jonathan Franzen. After Oprah anointed his book The Corrections, Franzen expressed ambivalence about having his novel embraced by Oprah fans. By choosing works by Shakespeare, Faulkner, Hemingway and other dead people, she will probably circumvent such ingratitude.
AND IN THE ROLE OF HOST... In films, BRUCE WILLIS has conveyed stoicism in confronting killer asteroids (Armageddon), creepy kids (The Sixth Sense) and evil terrorists (Die Hards 1, 2 and 3). But no amount of acting could mask the white-hot fear he felt facing a live audience as the emergency host of Late Show with David Letterman. Willis was tapped at the last minute when Letterman, suffering from an eye infection (which turned out to be shingles), called in sick for the first time in 20 years, not counting his absence for bypass surgery. The actor, who was scheduled to be a guest, interviewed DAN RATHER, who was touting his interview with Saddam Hussein, and Carmen Electra, touting her Baywatch Hawaiian Wedding. After debriefing Rather, Willis said, "That was the most serious conversation I've had in my whole life."
THE PERKS OF FAME BECAUSE SHE STRIPS herself of vanity, and of concealing garments, Kathy Bates is unfailingly referred to as brave FOR HER acting in About Schmidt. But she's not immune to the luxuries available to an Oscar nominee. Of her shoot with Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair's Hollywood issue, Bates gushes, "I got to try on lots of outfits and gorgeous jewelry." Not to mention surround herself with other well-polished ornaments.
PASS THE BUTT-KICKING BATON One suspects that if JENNIFER GARNER'S character in Daredevil had worn a turtleneck and baggy jeans, we might have seen the end of her, but the leather-clad Elektra is getting her own spin-off. The already announced sequel is no surprise: Daredevil made $45 million in its opening weekend. But news of Elektra's spin-off is more of a shock. Not to give anything away, but her health seemed somewhat less than robust at the end of the film.
Sure, there are other vampire slayers, but the whole demon-destroying enterprise would just feel empty without Buffy, which is why the series will come to an end in May now that SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR has revealed to ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY that the current season will be her last. Gellar says she wants to end the show while it is still admired by fans. She'll next shoot the sequel to Scooby-Doo, another project with a whiff of the supernatural: though critics desperately tried to bury it, the movie series stubbornly lives on.