April 28, 1997 12:00 PM


With the NBA play-offs starting April 24, die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan Dyan Cannon has more on her mind than 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, her new comedy starring Joe Pesci. “I pray all through the games. Sometimes it gets so exciting, you just can’t breathe,” says Cannon, 60, a season ticketholder who’ll be sitting pretty at the Forum during the play-offs. “I started in seats that were way, way up there. Now I sit under the basket. Magic [Johnson] sits on my right. It’s the only time in my life when I’ve worked my way down.” But Cannon has learned to be wary of working the refs. “One night the referee called [a play] out of bounds, and it wasn’t,” she recalls. “So I got nuts and told him it was a bad call. He said, ‘Dyan, I’ve seen your movies. They weren’t all good.’ And I thought, ‘I won’t mess with those guys again.’ ”


In the wake of last month’s shooting death of gangsta rapper Notorious B.I.G., reigning hip-hop queen Mary J. Blige delivers an uplifting message on her latest single, “Love Is All We Need.” “Everybody’s still messed up [about the murder],” says Blige, 26, whose new album, Share My World, due April 22, follows on the heels of Notorious B.I.G.’s No. 1-selling post-humous release, Life After Death. “But we’ve got to keep our heads up. We’ve got to keep moving. Life goes on.” Blige hopes the hip-hop world will move to stop the violence after its latest loss. In the past, she says, “everybody was ready to die. I guess they didn’t know any better. But you’ve got to [respect] life in a big way so you can be here for a while.” So what will Blige, who shared the same mentor as Notorious B.I.G. producer Sean “Puffy” Combs, miss the most about her slain friend? “His music,” she says. “But he still has us partying, even in death.”


Actress and cosmetics pitchqueen Elizabeth Hurley, who costars with Mike Myers in the spy spoof Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, due May 2, says she hasn’t had a smudgeproof relationship with her longtime beau, Hugh Grant. In fact, on their first date, recalls Hurley, 31, “we were in Madrid making a film called Rowing with the Wind. And all I remember is that Hugh was wearing a horrible thong under his britches. It was disgusting because it was smeared with makeup.” Hugh wears makeup? “Body makeup,” she corrects. “He wore it on his bum for the movie.” Now, 10 years—and tons of dirty laundry—later, the winsome twosome are still together. But there’s one big hitch. “We never even think about getting married,” says Hurley. “It’s hard enough for us to find time to go to the corner and buy a pack of cigarettes.”


Surely chiseled ex-model Lucky Vanous, best known as the shirtless construction worker in those Diet Coke commercials, had a built-in edge when it came to being cast as conniving building contractor Matt Dunning on Pacific Palisades, Aaron Spelling’s new Fox prime-time soap. “It was pure coincidence,” says Vanous, 36, of the role’s construction connection. “That character was written before I was even around.” Still, Vanous admits his buff body helped him land his first major TV role. “Let’s face it, it’s soap-opera TV,” he says. “It’s going to be looks-oriented. But they’ve assured me that I won’t be walking around in a thong.” When the time comes to flex his pecs, though, he’ll be pumped. “I have to work hard to look good,” says Vanous. “If I have a scene where I’m taking my shirt off, I’m dieting before.”

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