This is a pivotal year for the 48-year-old Oscar nominee, who hasn't been seen since 2002's White Oleander: She'll play an evil witch in the sci-fi fantasy Stardust (out July 27), a stage mother in a film based on the Broadway musical Hairspray (out July 20), and a mom who falls for a younger man (Paul Rudd) in the romantic comedy I Could Never Be Your Woman. But her comeback is off to a slightly rocky start: Woman, which was slated by MGM to hit theaters in March, has been pulled from the release schedule. (The studio declined comment, but financier Bauer Martinez says they will release Woman this June.) Fortunately for Pfeiffer, public goodwill may yet revitalize her career. Says Stardust producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, ''When [test audiences] see the movie, they say, 'It's so great to have her back!'''
After years of ubiquity, even Lopez was getting tired of herself. ''It was all J. Lo, all the time!'' the 37-year-old says. ''I pulled back a bit.'' Now the multihyphenate has a comeback in the works: ''I started gravitating toward projects that were important to me.'' Along with her current MTV reality series, Dancelife (an homage to her early days as a Fly Girl), and her first Spanish-language CD, Como Ama Una Mujer (out April 3), Lopez's 2007 films also hew to her roots: She costars with hubby Marc Anthony in El Cantante, a biopic of salsa singer Héctor Lavoe (due July 27), and will also headline the Mexican crime thriller Bordertown with Antonio Banderas. If that doesn't do it, Lopez has one last trump card: An English-language CD ''a fun dance record with soul'' arrives later this year.
Following his Oscar-nominated turn in Dreamgirls as R&B singer James ''Thunder'' Early, one might expect Murphy to take on riskier roles, like, say, playing James Brown in Spike Lee's planned biopic. Nope: After his slapstick romance Norbit opens on Feb. 9, Murphy shoots the sci-fi comedy Starship Dave. And he recently announced plans for the fantastical family film Nowhereland, along with a fourth Beverly Hills Cop movie. DreamWorks cofounder and good friend Jeffrey Katzenberg says Murphy, 45, has no desire to stretch for stretching's sake: ''Some actors are interested in going somewhere they've never gone before if they're dramatic actors they want to be comedians, if they're action heroes they want to be Shakespearean actors. That's just not who Eddie is.''
(Written and reported by Vanessa Juarez, Josh Rottenberg, Hannah Tucker, Adam B. Vary, and Margeaux Watson)