Lisa Russell
October 03, 1994 12:00 PM

THE MOTHER WILD

Actress Meryl Streep, 45, famous for her meticulous research, learned a new sport—white-water rafting—instead of a new accent for the action thriller The Rive Wild, opening this week. “I’m falling into 40-degree water,” she says, “nearly killing myself every day in a raft because I thought my kids [Streep has four] would be saying, ‘Wow, Mom!’ ” But Streep’s got one tough crowd sitting around the dinner table. “When my 14-year-old son saw the movie, he thought I didn’t do the actual rafting, that it must have been like Forrest Gump, and they just put me into the rafting scenes by computer,” she says. “I kept saying, ‘No, no, it’s your mom in that river! It’s really me!’ Then I made him go see the movie again, so he could make sure.”

WHAT A DRAG IT IS…

The glowing reviews that have been pouring in over Quiz Show would be enough to make director Robert Red-ford, 57, feel young again—if he weren’t feeling that way already. “I don’t think about age; the industry and the media do,” says America’s erstwhile Golden Boy, who often finds himself fending off inquiries about his golden years. “I can’t get through an interview these days without a reporter looking at me in remorse saying, ‘Bob, forgive me for the question, but readers want to know, so…what do you think about losing your youth?’ ” The Sundance Kid takes it all in stride, though. “Paul Newman is my dear friend, I joke with him that we better work together again before either one of us gets in a wheelchair.”

TRUE BLUE

Dennis Franz, known these days as NYPD Blue’s gruff, good-hearted detective Andy Sipowicz, has done the math. “I’ve played 28 cops in my career,” says Franz, 50. “It becomes difficult after a while to play new variations on the theme.” But not only has he managed to stay fresh—he also managed to grab a Best Actor Emmy from his soon-to-be-departing costar David Caruso. Though partners on the show, the two “don’t socialize after work,” Franz says. “David and I have different personalities, but we learned how to work together and respect each other.” And he expects the show to give Caruso a respectful farewell. “I don’t think they’ll kill Kelly off, though that might be good for dramatic impact,” he says. “One way or the other, I’d expect him to go out a hero.”

SOCIAL STUDIES

Given her four years as Becca, the earnest-adolescent star of Life Goes On, and her current role as a well-meaning Appalachian teacher in the hit CBS series Christy, actress Kellie Martin, 18, was ready for a change. “I don’t want to be typecast as the good girl,” says Martin, who can’t help baking cookies for cast members. The obvious answer? Murder a condescending cheerleader, which Martin does in the fact-based NBC movie A Friend to Die For, airing Sept. 26. And career changes aren’t the only ones Martin is planning. In January, Christy’s schedule permitting, she’ll enter Yale University—with a little trepidation. Says Martin: “Going into a room of adults and working is no problem for me, but I have no clue how to walk into a room and just hang out with kids. I [must be] cither 12 or 40—I have no idea whether I’m mature or immature.”

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