Weekend Entertainment Guide

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BOOKS . . . HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK: Fresh from the mega-success of 'Waiting to Exhale,' Terry McMillian is bragging that she got a $6 million advance for her new novel. Unfortunately, 'How Stella Got Her Groove Back' is a silly wish-fulfillment fantasy that barely qualifies as beach literature, says TIME's John Skow. Heroine Stella Payne is a beautiful, single, 'forty-bleeping-two-year-old' black securities analyst who, though sexy and rich, hasn't had a date in months. Tired of waiting for a black prince to materialize in a paid-for Lexus, she flies to Jamaica on vacation, meets Winston Shakespeare, a tall, bashful 20-year-old assistant cook at her resort hotel, falls in love, and brings him back home as a live-in souvenir. "It's a dubious sort of good luck that the publication of her slightest and fluffiest novel has brought McMillan her greatest reward," says TIME's John Skow. 'How Stella Got Her Groove Back' burbles along cheerfully but lacks the satirical bite of 'Waiting to Exhale. There isn't much to the story, which amounts to woman meets boy, gets boy. The author will have to crank up some misery if she carries out her plans to write the screenplay. You can't have a movie without conflict.

MOVIES . . . LAST DANCE: Sharon Stone is the latest in a long line of stars who want to be known as actresses. "In vain would we tell her that the world has a surfeit of good actresses but damn few movie stars and that she is one of the rare modern avatars of the grand old radiance," says TIME's Richard Corliss. "Acting is easy, glamour is hard." But Stone wants more than to make sin chic. To increase her stature, she must diminish her luster. And so she has chosen the sort of caged-woman melodrama–but with a message -->