June 07, 1999 12:00 PM

>Paul Sorvino

Almost a decade after his menacing turn as Mob boss Paulie, Paul Sorvino still strikes fear into the hearts of GoodFellas fans. “Some people literally tremble when they meet me,” says Sorvino, 60. “I find it amusing, because I have the impression of being a formidable, fearsome guy, when in reality I’m a painter, a poet and a singer.”

Sorvino can now add “director” to that list; he helmed (and stars in) That Championship Season, airing June 6 on Showtime. The drama, about four high school basketball stars reuniting 20 years later, left Sorvino with double déjà vu: He appeared in Season’s original 1972 Broadway cast and in the 1982 film version. This time around, Sorvino teamed up with the likes of Gary Sinise and Vincent D’Onofrio, who, he says, “would make anybody look good as a director.”

The twice-divorced Sorvino, who lives in New York City, is still choosing his next project but says he wants to work with Oscar-winning daughter Mira “when the time is right.” He also tries to stick to his low-carbohydrate diet, which has helped him shed 30 pounds. Compared to dieting, says Sorvino, “directing is a snap!”

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