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Rock’s Hard Places
3rd Rock from the Sun is leaving NBC’s orbit for good with a series finale airing May 22. John Lithgow calls working on the Emmy-winning show a “perfect experience” except for one drawback: The constant schedule changes drained the audience from the former Top 15 series. “It’s almost a textbook case of how to do everything wrong in building a hit show. If NBC had set out to ruin it, they couldn’t have done a better job,” says Lithgow, 55, who watched his sitcom undergo more than 15 time-slot switches during its six seasons on the air. “They kept trying to use us as a weapon instead of a show to be taken care of. It would have been nice to have stayed a big hit,” he adds, “but I’d rather be a great show that nobody was watching than a lousy show that was a big hit, which is the case with most of the others.”

Home Schooling
Jackie Joyner-Kersee retired from track and field in 1998, the same year Michael Jordan called it quits. Now that the NBA legend is flirting with a comeback, will she do the same? “No! I really enjoy not being out there,” says the athlete, 39, who briefly returned for last year’s Olympic Trials. Joyner-Kersee, who was just voted Top Woman Collegiate Athlete of the Past 25 Years by more than 900 NCAA member schools, has adopted the Seinfeld approach to life: doing nothing. “When you’re in the athletic arena, you don’t realize all the things you don’t have time for,” she says. “You’re not rushing. If people want to come to the house now, they can stay. Before, I would have to say, ‘You can only stay here till 10, because then I have to go practice.’ ”

Associate Producer
“I’ve never had so many friends in my life!” says Sarah Jessica Parker, who has been fielding requests for tickets to husband Matthew Broderick‘s new musical The Producers, the hottest Broadway show since The Lion King. “I’ve never felt as popular,” she says, “and I’ve never been more proud.” When people aren’t bugging her for Producers tickets, they’re trying to find out what she’ll be wearing on the next season of HBO’s Sex and the City, which kicks off June 3, to stay ahead of the fashion curve. “My lips are sealed,” says Parker, 36, who finally gives in and offers a single clue. “I have one word for you: pom-poms.”

No Fehr Lady
Oded Fehr returns to The Mummy as Brendan Fraser‘s sidekick Ardeth, and this time the Israeli actor has plenty to say. “I have all this exposition, telling what’s happening and so on,” says Fehr, 30, of The Mummy Returns. “Everybody called me ‘Blabbermouth’ in the last movie because I played this dark, mysterious character who didn’t say much. All of a sudden, in this movie, I just talk and talk and talk.” And while Fraser and Rachel Weisz continue their romance in the sequel, all of Fehr’s chatter left him no time for a love interest. Instead, I have a bird,” he says. “A falcon, love it very much.”

Grape Expectations
After wrapping Jurassic Park III, due out in July, Sam Neill finished his next project, the pre-World War II drama Submerged, at warp speed. “We shot this in 23 days,” says Neill of the NBC movie, airing May 20. “With Jurassic Park, it was 20-something weeks.” These days, the actor has plenty to wine about as he’s tending to his Two Paddocks vineyards in New Zealand, where he lives. “We just picked our grapes, and it looks like it’s going to be a really, really good vintage,” says Neill, 53. “We’ll be up at 1,000 cases.” And how many of those does Neill keep for himself? “Oh, about 900!” he says. “There’s something enormously satisfying about drinking your own wine, so I don’t stint myself on it.”