October 19, 1998 12:00 PM

As the editor of our newest section, Scoop, Larry Hackett spends most of his working hours on stories about celebrities. But he had his own star moment in 1994, when a pal who cowrote the movie The Paper named Michael Keaton’s character Hackett in Larry’s honor. He even got a cameo in the film. “I get knocked out of my chair by Randy Quaid,” he says of his celluloid moment. Not that he ever considered a career change. “I had vague ideas of being a rock star,” he says, “but was too lazy to learn an instrument.” Journalism, he adds, “is the next best thing.”

Rock’s loss, PEOPLE’S gain. Hired in February, Hackett, 36, took over Scoop in May—applying 17 years of newspaper experience to the task. “Larry has brought nimble feet, a keen eye for a story and encyclopedic showbiz knowledge to the section,” says assistant managing editor Carey Winfrey. And, notes Hackett, “the format appeals to my alarmingly short attention span.”

The oldest of four children raised in Chatham, N.J., by an ad-exec father and homemaker mother, Hackett began writing for newspapers while at Boston University. After graduating in 1983, he worked for The Daily Record in New Jersey and The Newark Star-Ledger before moving to New York City’s Daily News in 1989. There he covered everything from the Mike Tyson rape trial to the Waco standoff. Just the right preparation for Scoop, which he envisions as “news with a celebrity flavor to it.”

Off-hours, Hackett—who lives in Brooklyn with wife Lynn Mirabito, an aspiring filmmaker, and their 2-year-old son, Henry (a baby girl is due in February)—enjoys shopping for English-style suits and exotic cufflinks. (“His sartorial style puts most of us to shame,” says Winfrey.) He also enjoys fly-fishing. “You’re thinking about the next catch, and suddenly eight hours are gone,” he says. “It’s therapeutic.” Which is just as well, considering the number of stories he juggles each week. Not that it’s combat duty; an unseemly number of items deal with the Spice Girls. “I must admit that I like ex-Spice Ginger,” Hackett says. Maybe he should reconsider the rock-star gig after all.

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