May 05, 1997 12:00 PM

Reps for both Billy Bob Thornton and Laura Dern continue to maintain that the pair are not romantically involved, and I’m inclined to believe that. Still, the two sure have spent a lot of time together before and after Thornton’s fourth wife, Pietra, filed suit on April 11, seeking what promises to be a very messy divorce. For example, on April 7, Thornton was spotted having lunch with Dern at the Wolfgang Puck Cafe in West Hollywood. That same evening they turned up together at another Los Angeles restaurant, Il Sole, for a party honoring Tony Bennett. Nothing on either occasion suggested romance, nor did the pair’s subsequent trip to Arkansas, where Thornton directed a video for the rock group Widespread Panic. Here’s my take on this twosome: Thornton and Dern met in March at the taping of Ellen DeGeneres’s coming-out episode of Ellen, which airs April 30 on ABC, and Dern became the soft shoulder for him to cry on as his marriage was coming apart….

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when Johnny Depp met Hunter S. Thompson at the Chateau Marmont in L.A. in mid-April to talk about Depp’s portrayal of the gonzo journalist in the upcoming feature based on Thompson’s 1971 cult classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which will be directed by ex-Monty Pythonite Terry Gilliam. Thompson’s attorney George Tobia Jr. tells me that Hunter and Depp “have great chemistry,” adding that if Depp weren’t starring in the movie, “I don’t know if Hunter would be excited about going ahead with the project.” Filming is scheduled to begin July 1 in Las Vegas….

I doubt he’s giving up on his film career, but I hear Alec Baldwin wants to star in a TV sitcom. Baldwin, who spends most of his time in New York City with wife Kim Basinger and their daughter Ireland, 1, is currently working on a pilot with Saturday Night Live writing vet Jim Downey. As far as I know, Baldwin has yet to pitch his idea to a network, but I’m told he would only commit to do a series in Manhattan….

Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan hasn’t put his golfing game on hold until the off-season. On a humid day in March, a source of mine encountered Jordan playing at Emerald Dunes, a public course in West Palm Beach, Fla. It turns out that Jordan flew to Florida on a day the Bulls didn’t have a game to honor a commitment to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. When my source asked him why he was wearing long pants on a sweltering day, Jordan replied, “Because I wear shorts for a living.”…

YOU Won’t See it On America’s Funniest Home Videos, but the show’s host, Bob Saget, and his wife, Sherri, have separated after nearly 15 years of marriage. The couple have three daughters, aged 4, 7 and 10. A source close to the family confirms the split but adds that the Sagets have thus far made no plans to divorce. “This is all very new,” says the source….

Finally, on the other side of the romance curve, the redheaded actress Alexondra Lee, who played Scott Wolf’s fiery roommate and occasional lover Callie this season on Fox-TV’s Party of Five, is dating Jason Bateman, currently starring on the NBC sitcom Chicago Sons. At least some people are happy.

You May Like