November 01, 1999 12:00 PM

Rye Observation

She mixes it up with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton in Fight Club, but Helena Bonham Carter is still bruised from her recent breakup with longtime beau Kenneth Branagh. “I had Theory of Flight open in England recently,” says Bonham Carter, 33, referring to the drama, which coincided with the costarring couple’s romance, that opened in the U.S. last winter. “Isn’t that fantastic timing?” Since the split, the British tabloids have made it difficult for her to keep a stiff upper lip. “I’d go out shopping, and it was really strange,” she says. “You feel a camera on you, and then the next day I see a picture of myself buying a loaf of bread. I read, ‘Helena bought a loaf of bread, but forlornly.’ I think, ‘How can I buy a loaf of bread happily?’ ”

Going Overboard

Janine Turner took every precaution when she brought her 23-month-old daughter Juliette to Venice to shoot the CBS movie Barbara Taylor Bradford’s A Secret Affair, airing Oct. 27. “Juliette had her little life vest on because I insisted she wear it the entire time,” says Turner, whose run as Maggie on the quirky TV series Northern Exposure ended in 1995. “The Italians were like, ‘Why do you have her in a life vest? We’ve never lost a person in the canal!’ Not only did Juliette live to tell the tale, but she recites it in the local tongue. “She started to count to three yesterday, and she said ‘due’ for ‘two,’ which is Italian,” says Turner, 36. “And we were only in Venice for a week.”

Violins, Not Violence

Gloria Estefan becomes the latest pop diva to cross over into films with the new drama Music of the Heart, opening Oct. 29. “I’ve been offered movies in the past,” says Estefan, who plays an inner-city teacher who befriends a new violin instructor played by Meryl Streep. “Either it was bad timing in my career because I was touring or recording, or the scripts were terrible.” Estefan welcomed the chance to work with two-time Oscar winner Streep, although she initially questioned the pedigree of Heart director Wes Craven, best known for spooky films like Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street. “I thought it was a horror movie,” says Estefan, 42. “When I heard Wes was doing a violin movie, I said, ‘What, is he going to slit my throat with the strings?’ ”

Ask About Our Hot Wax

Ally McBeal will be even more of a soap opera than usual during its Oct. 25 season premiere, when Calista Flockhart enjoys a sexy romp in a car wash with the latest Ally heart-throb, Jason Gedrick (The Last Don). “Our introduction was in pretty typical Hollywood fashion,” reports Gedrick, 32. “You meet her and five minutes later you’re naked, knee-deep in hot wax and suds, making out.” While most actors kiss and tell how embarrassing their love scenes were, Gedrick says the experience was good clean fun. “Life could be a lot worse,” says Gedrick. “What am I supposed to say—’I don’t like it’?”

You’re Never Alone

Before directing the Showtime espionage thriller In the Company of Spies, premiering Oct. 24, actor Tim Matheson infiltrated CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., on an intelligence-seeking mission. “It was amazing how thorough they are,” says Matheson, 51. “You have to be escorted everywhere. They never, ever leave you alone. I was even escorted into the rest room.” Matheson is remaining inside the Beltway as a cast member on NBC’s new hit drama The West Wing. “I’m having a ball with that,” says Matheson, who plays a Vice President often at odds with Commander in Chief Martin Sheen. “I just hope I don’t get impeached.”

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