November 09, 1998 12:00 PM

The education act

Denzel Washington and his wife, actress-singer Pauletta Pearson, are both appearing in theaters these days. While Washington costars with Annette Bening and Bruce Willis in the political thriller The Siege, opening Nov. 6, Pearson has a bit part in Beloved as one of the climactic scene’s group of 30 women. Although the two have been married 15 years, they’ve never acted together. “She was in Wilma, but we didn’t have any scenes together,” says Washington, 43, recalling the 1977 TV movie that marked his screen debut. “I’d love to work with her. I don’t know if she would do it, but you never know.” Have any of the couple’s four children, ages 7 to 14, caught the acting bug from their parents? “They’re professional students right now,” says Washington. “I’m not interested in them being actors. I want them to learn about life and how to play that game first. If they decide in college when they go—and they’re going—that they want to study acting, then I don’t have a problem with it.”

Ladies’ man

Rocker Bryan Adams, who previously has duetted with Tina Turner, Bonnie Raitt and Barbra Streisand, hooks up with another pop diva—Sporty Spice—on his new album, On a Day Like Today. “First of all, she doesn’t like being called Sporty Spice,” says Adams, 39, who sings “When You’re Gone” with her. “I’ve been told not to refer to her that way. I call her Melanie C.” For the record, don’t call him a Spice Boy, either: “I think that’s more of an association for guys who actually go out with them.” Okay, then, so does Adams believe in Girl Power? “Well, it seems to be the time for women [in pop music] anyway—especially, if you think about it, Canadian women,” says the Ontario native. “There’s a real sort of northern invasion happening, with Alanis [Morissette] and Celine [Dion] and Sarah McLachlan. I carried the flag for a long time up there. Now let the girls wave it.”

Objection!

The Practice’s Lara Flynn Boyle, who plays attorney Helen Gamble, is relieved that the onscreen passion between her and costar Dylan McDermott has cooled since last season. “I have to say that it got a little hot in those scripts,” admits Boyle, 28, who appears with fellow Practice-ioner Camryn Manheim, among others, in the big-screen black comedy Happiness. “There were a few days on the set when they were giving me the tiniest pieces of cloth [to wear]. They were like, ‘Here you go, Miss Boyle. Here is your wardrobe.’ I was like, ‘Thanks, but where is the rest of it?’ ” So does the actress have any privileged information about whether she and McDermott, whose characters have split up, will again display their barely legal briefs? “If I told you, I’d have to kill you,” she deadpans. “I’m sworn to secrecy.”

Field of dreams

Although screen legend Sidney Poitier, 71, is the only African-American to win the Best Actor Oscar (for 1963’s Lilies of the Field), he is philosophical about his place in film history. “If it hadn’t been Sidney Poitier, it would have been someone else,” says the actor, who costars with Lukas Haas and Brittany Murphy in the ABC movie David and Lisa, airing Nov. 1. “I was the only one out there at the time. Because there was only one of us, I had the very sensitive social spotlight on me all the time. So mostly I played stand-up good guys. There are so many different [African-American actors] out there now, compared with when I was flying solo. There’s still a long way to go to level the playing field. Even so, I’m not one to dwell on the distance yet to go. I’d prefer to assess the distance traveled.”

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