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GROOVING WITH MR. HANKS

In That Thing You Do!, his nostalgic film about a fictional 1964 pop group called the Wonders, writer-director Tom Hanks wasn’t dissing today’s popular bands. “It’s not like I was saying, ‘Ah, these kids with their mosh pits and their Soundgardens and their Pearl Jamming ways,’ ” he says. “Every generation finds its music.” But Hanks, 40, laughs when asked what 45s he wore out when he was a kid. “Why, that would have to be ‘Bits and Pieces’ tied with ‘I Like It Like That’—essentially, anything by the Dave Clark Five,” he says. “Actually the first album I ever bought was The Best of the Animals with ‘House of the Rising Sun’ and ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place.’ ” As for how this movie is different from previous ones about musicians, well, that one’s easy. “Yeah, there are musician movies,” says Hanks, “but they always die in airplane crashes at the end.”

ENJOYING HIS CONFIDENCE

In her new action thriller, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Geena Davis plays a teacher suffering from amnesia who discovers that she was once a skilled and lethal secret agent. Thanks to director Renny Harlin, who doubles as her husband, Davis also discovered some skills she never knew she had. “We had a great time making the movie in spite of the fact that he made me do like 90 percent of my own stunts,” says Davis, 39. “It’s a wonderful thing to be married to somebody who believes that there’s nothing you can’t do, but every time some outrageous stunt would come along—like jumping out of a three-story window—he’d say, ‘Geena will do it.’ People on the set would say, ‘Renny, come on,’ and he’d say, ‘No, no, she can do it!’ So I’d have to live up to this ideal of me that he has. But I like that.”

IF LOOKS COULD KILL

Actress Annie Potts is earning high marks for her gritty portrayal of Louanne Johnson, an ex-Marine turned inner-city schoolteacher, in Dangerous Minds, ABC’s new hour-long drama adapted from the movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer. “I didn’t see the movie, but I spoke with Louanne on the phone after she saw the TV pilot, and she thought I had my dirty looks down really well,” says Potts, 44, whose withering glare brings a chaotic classroom to full attention. “I have three children of my own—ages 15, 4 and 10 months—so I’ve been working on it for quite a while now.” Since she plays a former Marine, how many pushups can Potts do? “I could do quite a few when I started this show,” she says, “but my exercise program has gone by the wayside now that I’m working 14 hour days. I think that would exhaust any Marine.”

SO HAPPY TOGETHER

Actors Melissa Gilbert and Bruce Boxleitner, married for nearly two years, can’t seem to get enough of each other. Gilbert cast her husband in Me and My Hormones, an Oct. 24 ABC After-School Special that she directed, and Boxleitner helped her get a part in his sci-fi series Babylon 5. She’ll appear in two upcoming episodes as his wife, who has been presumed dead. “I bust in on him just as he’s about to sleep with this woman,” says Gilbert, 32. “He doesn’t know that my character has been keeping company with the evil Shadows, an ancient race of bad aliens.” She takes her husband back to her planet, which strikes Gilbert as a fine idea. “If couples could just spend more time on each other’s planets, it would really improve their relationships,” says Gilbert, who didn’t mind seeing her husband enjoying interspecies intimacies on TV “The woman is a half-alien, half-human with a bone on her head, so I didn’t feel too threatened.”