Chuck Arnold
November 15, 1999 12:00 PM

Nerves for $1,000, Alex

This is how nervous Jon Stewart was before competing in the Celebrity Jeopardy! tournament taped to air the week of Nov. 15: “What is very?” asks the host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. “I was up all night just running over Potent Potables in my head. It was all flash cards, drilling, watching Little Man Tate over and over again, Doogie Howser episodes, that kind of thing.” Even so, Stewart, 36, admits that he and his opponents, Spin City‘s Michael Boatman and singer Shawn Colvin, would have had a much harder time of it on the real Jeopardy! “I’d get crushed,” he says. “The Celebrity Jeopardy! questions are much easier. Hey, I’ve seen Yasmine Bleeth win, like, $38,000 on this thing.”

In the Dead of Night

After his tour of duty in Saving Private Ryan, Tom Sizemore trained on the streets of New York City to do battle as a paramedic in Bringing Out the Dead. “I talked to two [Emergency Medical Services] guys who were paramedics in Vietnam,” says Size-more, 37, “and they said the midnight shift in Hell’s Kitchen and the Lower East Side is more dangerous and more violent than Vietnam.” Sizemore and costar Nicolas Cage also accompanied real-life EMS drivers on their graveyard runs. “It’s basically going out and seeing what it’s like to watch people die,” Sizemore says. “There was a 45-year-old woman who died because she didn’t have her [asthma] inhaler. It was horrible.” But the experience was a strong dose of reality. “I’m an actor; these guys save lives. We’re lucky they’re out there.”

Serenely Single

Jerry Maguire‘s Renée Zellweger, who plays one of Chris O’Donnell‘s prospective brides in the romantic comedy The Bachelor, says she’s not exactly pining for someone to show her the ring. “I’ve never been the kind of girl who sits there and dreamily says, ‘Oh, when I get married….’ ” says Zellweger, 30. “I think it sounds so pathetic when these girls are like, ‘My dress will be like this, and my guy will get down on one knee.’ Get over it already!” Not that she has had any marriage proposals to turn down. “That’s okay, I’m too young anyway,” says Zellweger. “But when I’m 99, I’ll probably be sorry and go, ‘Where is he?’ ”

Being There

So just how close to being John Malkovich is Being John Malkovich? “It doesn’t have much to do with me, but neither does being John Malkovich,” says Malkovich, who plays himself in the new comedy costar-ring John Cusack and Cameron Diaz. “I often feel like I’m playing at being John Malkovich on a daily basis. It’s a role I think I do particularly well.” But apparently not well enough, at times. “Actually, Spike Jonze, our director, was constantly on me,” says Malkovich, 45. “He would say, ‘John Malkovich wouldn’t do it like that.’ I had to wonder, ‘How do you think I would do it?’ ”

Eighty Isn’t Enough

Phyllis Diller knows exactly why she’s receiving a lifetime achievement award on Nov. 10 as part of the Marshalls’ Women in Comedy Festival in New York City. “Well, I’m the oldest one,” she says. “There’s some old male comics, but boy, being an 82-year-old lady stand-up puts me in a certain bracket.” Diller, who has been hitting the comedy circuit almost nonstop for 43 years, says she has no plans to retire. “What a horrible thing: the eternal nap!” Besides, her turn as the voice of the queen in last year’s animated hit A Bug’s Life is replenishing her fan base. “I was just stopped by the father of a little child who’s in my new group of fans,” says Diller. “What a feeling. Because, you know, a lot of my old fans are kicking the bucket!”

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