July 14, 1997 12:00 PM


Torch singer k.d. lang may draw fire from the anti-smoking police with her new album of cigarette-inspired songs, Drag, but the Canadian chanteuse gets no kick from the habit. “Absolutely not—I’m a non-smoker,” says lang, 35, who headlines a Hard Rock Live concert special airing July 20 on VH1. “I didn’t want to glamorize smoking. But it was a fun thing to play on because now cigarettes are like the Antichrist. Hey, maybe this record can be a replacement for cigarettes for people.” In fact, lang admits that sometimes she, too, has felt like lighting into smokers. “I don’t like smoking around me when I’m singing. It really does dry my throat out,” she says. “And I don’t like it in close places.” But lang knows firsthand what a drag it can be to kick any habit. “I personally crave sleep,” she says. “That’s what I need the most of. It’s the best drug for me.”


Shaggy-haired singer Michael Bolton, who belts the theme song “Go the Distance” for Disney’s Hercules, has been in heavy vocal training for an album of arias due this fall. “Now I know how to hit even higher notes,” says Bolton, 44. “Basically, I think of a note now like I’m an Olympian who has to reach for the gold medal.” Despite his popularity, the two-time Grammy winner feels he gets no critical respect. “It’s very disheartening when you feel like you’re doing so well and people make these jokes about your work,” Bolton says. But then, top opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti recently gave him high marks. “The other night I was singing with Luciano,” says Bolton, who sang with Pavarotti at a benefit in 1995. “He told me I was great. It just made everything perfect in my world. Finally I felt, ‘Well, somebody thinks I’m doing something right.’ ”


Dashing British actor Rupert Everett has finally come into his own thanks to his scene-stealing performance as Julia Roberts‘s gay confidant in the romantic comedy My Best Friend’s Wedding. But having played second banana to an orangutan, he can’t be expected to take a star trip. “Your actor’s ego goes out the window,” says Everett, 38, of costarring with an ape in the 1996 comedy Dunston Checks In. “You cater to the orangutan. Everyone works to keep the beast happy. If the orangutan gets mad, you can’t wave a contract in his face and say, ‘We’re going to call your agent.’ ” As for his onscreen chemistry with Roberts, Everett, who is openly gay, says, “We did quite a lot of improv. I make it up in the toilet before I do a scene. That’s the secret to being a good actor.”


Father of the Bride alum Martin Short didn’t think it would be easy for his 9-year-old costar Mara Wilson to get down to serious business filming A Simple Wish, due July 11. “The worst thing is if you come up with a clever line and the other actor laughs,” says Short, 47, who plays Wilson’s fairy godmother. “That’s what scared me about working with a kid. But she never broke up. She was a pro.” Short shouldn’t have been so surprised by Wilson’s precociousness. After all, the pint-size actress costarred with Robin Williams in 1993’s Mrs. Doubtfire, and Short himself has three Hollywood-wise children with wife Nancy: Katherine, 13, Oliver, 11, and Henry, 7. “They like me to be funny, but they’re not overly impressed,” says Short of his seen-it-all trio. “They go to school in L.A.”

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