HAS KIEFER SUTHERLAND'S CAREER FLATUNED?

An Oscar nomination usually has a positive effect on one's career. What it can do to a relationship, though, is an entirely different matter. Instead of taking bows in Hollywood on the day that she was nominated for Best Actress for Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts, 23, was off in Montana at the ranch—and, more importantly, at the side—of Kiefer Sutherland, 24, her steady for more than a year.

According to a variety of sources, her extraordinary success comes just as his career has hit a stall, and that apparently has him worried, though his representative says his career is in fine shape.

Nonetheless, a few days prior to Roberts's PW nomination, Sutherland was seen by a source of ours "meeting with low-level studio executives" at Disney. The source says such meetings may be a sign that Sutherland's agents "are encountering difficulty finding him a job." (Of the four movies Sutherland starred in last year—Flatliners, Chicago Joe and the Showgirl, Flashback and Young Guns II—only Flatliners, in which Roberts costarred, succeeded at the box office.)

While Kiefer's fee is said to be near $1 million per film, we hear that Julia, whose Sleeping with the Enemy has grossed $31 million in its first 11 days. now commands at least $5 million. Or, as one agent put it, "anything she wants."

THE FRIENDS CONNECTION

What a difference a couple of decades can make. In 1971 William Friedkin was directing The French Connection, a police thriller based on the real-life exploits of two New York City cops. One of the cops was Sonny Grosso, who served as a $150-a-week technical adviser on the film and even had a bit part. "I was the guy who told people how to hold a gun." says Grosso.

The French Connection went on to win five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Today, Grosso, 55, has retired from the force for the more lucrative career of TV producer. (His shows include Top Cops and Night Heat for CBS.) Now Grosso is planning to produce his first feature film, and naturally it's based on a true story about a cop who goes to Germany to help a woman rescue her kidnapped child.

So guess who Grosso has lined up to direct? That's right, Friedkin.

Now Grosso and Friedkin, 51, are talking to Michael Douglas, 46, about playing the lead role and coproducing the movie.

DEPP PERCEPTION: OFFBEAT IS NEAT

Let it never be said in Hollywood that Johnny Depp's career path after 21 Jump Street was narrowcast to include only safe, predictable parts. First Depp, 27, played a hood in cult favorite John Waters's Cry-Baby. Then he looked pasty and sported Veg-O-Matic hands in director Tim Burton's recent fantasy film, Edward Scissorhands.

Continuing this foray into offbeat roles, Depp next plans to play a dreamer in The Arrowtooth Waltz, a quirky independent feature to be directed by Emir Kusturica, a Yugoslav whose When Father Was Away on Business won an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film in 1985. Joining Depp in the film, set to begin shooting in Arizona in mid-March, are Jerry Lewis, Lili Taylor and Paulina Porizkova.

A KISS IS JUST A KISS?
Peter Horton's thirtysomething character, Gary Shepard, may have been killed on TV, but Horton's libido remains alive and well. Several sources say they spotted Horton recently at a Los Angeles restaurant "full-on making out" with actress Rosanna Arquette. Arquette, via her rep, says nothing's going on. Horton, who keeps company with model Jean Pelton, admits he dined with Arquette but denies any romance, adding. "That's the funniest thing I've heard in years. We're just friends. Totally friends."