Kim Cunningham
October 14, 1996 12:00 PM


“His death has been such a hard thing for me,” says actress Lela Rochon, 32, of slain rapper Tupac Shakur, with whom she costars, along with Jim Belushi, in Gang Related, a thriller that wrapped just before Shakur’s Sept. 7 shooting. “I adored him. I really got to know him during the movie. The producers called and told me he was shot, and I just went underground. It’s as if we had finished Waiting to Exhale and then something happened to one of the four of us.” Rochon, who next appears with Gene Hackman and Chris O’Donnell in The Chamber, a courtroom drama opening this Friday (Oct. 11), says, “Tupac and I really hit it off. After he passed, I found a note from him in my purse that says, ‘Call me if you ever want to talk for real,’ with this little happy face. Then his death really hit home.”


Having missed Beatle-mania, the four twenty-somethings who play a 1964 pop group called the Wonders in That Thing You Do! had to play catchup. “We watched Hullabaloo, the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, the Dave Clark Five,” says actor Johnathon Schaech, 27, the band’s lead singer in the movie, which was written and directed by Tom Hanks. “I stole a lot from John Lennon, including the stance and the strum.” A tougher gig was drumming up the requisite innocence when the Wonders first hear their single on, the radio. “Tom told us, ‘You kids jump around and hold hands,’ ” says Schaech. “It seemed sort of silly. But once we “started jumping up and down, it was kind of fun. It beats moshing.”


Sarah Jessica Parker is this year’s It girl at the movies. She’s currently starring in the medical thriller Extreme Measures and the comedy The First Wives Club and has two more movies opening in December: Mars Attacks, a sci-fi comedy, and The Substance of Fire, a drama. “I think I was overextended. I would not do all of this again,” says Parker, 31, who also starred on Broadway for four months this year with boyfriend Matthew Broderick in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. “You can’t do four movies and be good to everybody and be flying all night and shooting all day with a different wig and then be going to sing on Broadway without feeling a little tired. You endlessly feel you’re letting somebody down.” Including Broderick? “People ask and ask about the relationship,” sighs Parker. “Sure, you worry if your relationship is getting enough attention. Our life is not more complicated than a lot of couples’ in America. People work two jobs. It’s a little hard, but it’s not unmanageable by any stretch.”


Renee Taylor, who recently earned an Emmy nomination for best supporting actress as Sylvia Fine, Fran Drescher’s beehive-haired sitcom mom on CBS’s The Nanny, has never been tempted to steal a single sequin from her character’s flamboyant wardrobe. “I always say, ‘Who would wear such a thing?’ But I guess there’s somebody like Sylvia on every block who is afraid that nobody is going to notice them, so they wear checks and stripes and red and orange and sequins. Fran is dressed pretty way out, so I have to coordinate as her mother.” In fact, says Taylor, 61, who in real life is married to actor Joseph Bologna, “my Aunt Myrna, who lived on Pelham Parkway in The Bronx, was like that. She was the Candy Spelling of Pelham Parkway. She would wear a fan to match her dress. If she and somebody else went to a bar mitzvah wearing the same dress, my aunt would say to me, ‘Hers is a copy’ ”

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