September 02, 1996 12:00 PM


On movie screens, Rene Russo has kept heady—and hunky—company, having worked closely with Mel Gibson (Lethal Weapon 3), Clint Eastwood (In the Line of Fire) and John Travolta (Get Shorty). And she didn’t do too badly in her current film, Tin Cup, a romantic comedy about golf in which she costars with Kevin Costner and Don Johnson. So which of these lookers did she spend more time with off-camera? “The truth,” says Russo, 42, who has been happily married to screenwriter Danny Gilroy since 1992 and has a daughter, Rose, 3, “is that there were a lot of cute guys on this movie. There were all these handsome golf pros who were forever adjusting your hips. I have to admit that I played poorly on purpose so I could yell for a pro to help me.”


To play the action hero in Solo, actor-director Mario Van Peebles baldly goes where quite a few have gone before. He shaved his head to portray an android in the new guns-and-special-effects saga. Off the set, he says, his lockless look led to many a case of mistaken identity. “On a good day I was Charles Barkley,” says Van Peebles, 39, “and on the other days I was Montel Williams.” Though he has directed three films (New Jack City, Posse and Panther), Van Peebles says he had no urge to second-guess Solo director Norberto Barba. “It’s like being a mechanic on vacation,” he says. “The last thing you’re going to do is look under the hood.”


“Hollywood sucks,” declares John Kruk, a former All-Star first baseman who is as blunt as he is beefy. Kruk, who retired from the Chicago White Sox last year, makes his movie debut as a teammate of Wesley Snipes in the The Fan. “I sat around for hours on end with nothing to do until they’re ready for me to hit a homer,” says Kruk, 35. “I liked [director] Tony Scott, but he would have me sitting for 14 straight hours, then call me at the hotel at 3 a.m. and expect me to come and knock one out of the park. Not even Babe Ruth could do that.” Another error: “They had books in the damn dugout, and I told ’em there ain’t a baseball team in the world that’s got books in the dugout! But they didn’t listen to me.”


After five seasons of flying small planes as Maggie O’Connell on Northern Exposure, a grounded Janine Turner is happily serving up cookies and milk as June Cleaver this summer. She plays TV’s ultimate mom in the feature film version of Leave It to Beaver, which has been shooting in Los Angeles. “Beaver has been probably the most—I have to think of the right word—serene experience of my career,” says Turner, 33, recalling what it was like filming Exposure in snow- and fog-bound Washington State, hanging off the Italian Alps for the movie Cliffhanger (1993), and wallowing in the midsummer dirt and dust of the Kansas plains for Stolen Women, an upcoming CBS period film about frontier women. “On Leave It to Beaver,” she says, “the birds are singing, the weather’s cool, and it’s just, ‘Ah! I play June Cleaver!’ ”

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