THE CHYNNA SYNDROME

Last year Alec Baldwin hooked up, very publicly, with a beautiful blond (Kim Basinger, for those out of the know), and now one of Alec's younger brothers, William (Backdraft) Baldwin, seems to be following suit. William's newest amour is Chynna Phillips, the blond member of the pop threesome Wilson Phillips.

Chynna had been involved in a two-year relationship with Michael Landau, a guitarist who has played with Wilson Phillips. No official word on what happened to Landau, but Chynna's rep confirms that Phillips and Baldwin are now dating.

Dating, huh? When Phillips recently threw a housewarming bash at her new Santa Monica condo, a guest reports that the couple were so cozy "they seemed to be hosting the party together." But let's not jump to conclusions. We hear that whenever the New York-based Baldwin is in Los Angeles, he stays at a hotel—albeit one just minutes away from chez Chynna.

NO PICTURES, PLEASE

That Madonna. Just when you decide her appetite for attention is truly insatiable, she suddenly turns shy and retiring.

Only last June, Ms. Truth or Dare, who has an apartment in New York City and owns a house in the Hollywood Hills, agreed to plop down $8 million—plus for a palatial pad in tony Bel Air.

Now she has backed out of the deal. Why? According to Stan Smith, the real estate agent who thought he had sold her the three-bedroom mansion, "She canceled because she said there was too much publicity about the sale." After the Los Angeles Times reported Madonna had bought the place, most newspapers and entertainment news shows did the same, and a tabloid published an aerial photograph of the spread. All the press attention may have peeved Madonna, though a spokeswoman for the singer won't confirm that the hoopla soured the deal.

In any case, Madonna is back pounding the pavement in search of the perfect house. She recently stopped at a place in the Hollywood Hills with a FOR SALE sign in front and demanded to tour the property. Workmen turned her away because, our sources tell us, she wasn't accompanied by a real estate agent.

THE DIRECTOR IS A FOX

Michael J. Fox, who has always said that he wanted to direct movies, is making his move. Next year he plans to direct—but not act in—The Prospect, a baseball movie that his production company is developing at Universal.

Fox says the project is about "an old baseball scout who has given up on life and eventually gets a kind of rebirth [when he discovers a talented young player]. It's a little story and probably won't be a very expensive film."

Fox, who says he hopes to spend "more and more" time behind the camera, debuted as a director in 1986, when he shot a short film, The Iceman Hummeth, for a TV special hosted by David Letterman. In June he directed a Tales from the Crypt episode for HBO.

Why the premature mid-life career change? "Hey, I'm 30. It's time for a new page," says Fox. "If it doesn't work out for me, what are they gonna do? Come over and shoot my cat?"

MITCHELL FINK is away on vacation.