MAYBE THEY CAN CALL IT AALAAN
They share an affinity for playing dark, offbeat characters in films and having an excess of vowels in their names. Now indie It couple MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL and PETER SARSGAARD will share parenting duties. Gyllenhaal, 28, whose most notorious role was as a secretary who liked spanking, and Sarsgaard, 35, who co-starred with Gyllenhaal's brother Jake in 2005's Jarhead, are engaged and are expecting a baby. The two have conducted a quiet courtship since they met four years ago. No public spats. No embarrassing photos in the tabloids. Still, we're sure the marriage will work out fine.
Q&A LAURENCE FISHBURNE
After turns as Othello, Ike Turner and The Matrix's Morpheus, Laurence Fishburne exudes a calmer vibe as a spelling tutor in Akeelah and the Bee
You have said you aim to swing like a jazz musician in every performance. How did you find your rhythm playing a professor who gardens? Jazz is classical American music, and [tutor] Larabee's a classical dude. The methods he uses to teach Akeelah, like keeping time while jumping rope and banging on a watering can, are all pretty swinging.
With the Matrix movies and your part in Mission: Impossible III this summer, have you turned into an action star? I got to do the superhero thing in The Matrix. That's always pretty swinging. In Mission: Impossible I got to do my thing, like playing with the language and the character a bit.
What are the rewards of working on a little film like Akeelah when you're not getting a big fee?
Just being able to get this movie made is a joy. It was difficult. The lead character is an 11-year-old African-American girl, and they're not making a lot of those movies.
Are you a good speller? No.
Did working on the movie make you a better speller? No.
What word best defines Laurence Fishburne? I'm really not the person to ask. [Laughs.] I don't sit around describing myself. But if I had three words, I would say "a nice guy." --By Sonja Steptoe
Scoop up a few Grammys? Check. Rant about the President on live TV? Check. Launch a line of preppy duds? Check. The next item on rap star KANYE WEST'S to-do list is to create a book in the style of Japanese manga comics with animator Bill Plympton. Plympton, best known for short films that appeared on MTV in the '80s, met West when drawing the raw, smudgy animation for the hip-hop star's video Heard 'Em Say. After the two hit it off, they decided to collaborate on a book based on West's lyrics for Simon & Schuster. Can a Kanye West line of baked goods be far behind?
A NEW THEATER OF OPERATIONS What do medical actresses do when they take time off from tending the sick? Four of the women from ER are moving to the theater this spring. Perhaps they just don't like playing golf
DR. ABBY LOCKHART In Neil LaBute's off-Broadway black comedy Some Girl(s), with Eric McCormack, opening in May, Maura Tierney plays the girl who got away--a nice change from Abby, the girl who got to intubate.
P.A. JEANIE BOULET Gloria Reuben is Condoleezza Rice in Stuff Happens, a play about the Iraq war. Reuben once sang with Tina Turner, so Condi could bust out some Proud Mary if needed.