GLENN CLOSE: ISSUES A MAN-DATE

ALEX WINTER: DOUBLE TALK

EUGENE LEVY: DIVINE PROVIDENCE

WELL-DONE CHILDHOOD: Actor ALAN THICKE, who stars in ABC's Growing Pains, endured his fare share of them as a child. "She would burn, she would cremate, she would nuke," Thicke recalls of the cooking of his mother, Joan. "If you are what you eat, I'd be black. Her idea of a balanced meal was one where you had a 50-50 chance of survival." Modern technology has not improved her culinary technique, he says. "She has a microwave now. She can burn faster."

CLOSE CALLS: Oscar-nominee GLENN CLOSE, who has played wickedly manipulative women recently in Dangerous Liaisons and Fatal Attraction, is convinced that men are the weaker sex. "Men have always been at the mercy of women and they still are," Close told London's Daily Mail. "We are emotionally and spiritually stronger than men, and sometimes we are more ruthless, whether it's in sex, politics or whatever. Men, I think, are more vulnerable.... I have never wanted to be a man," Close concluded. "I feel sorry for them. Sometimes I think they'll I never know how to deal with women."

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: His resemblance to SEAN PENN has in some ways become actor ALEX WINTER'S discontent. "When people ask me if I'm Sean Penn, I beat the crap out of them and take all their money, "jokes Winter, now starring in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. "Actually, it's an exhausting question. We're both Irish-American, and we both look like birds, and that's why people see a resemblance. It almost cost me getting Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, but after I tested they decided the resemblance wasn't strong onscreen. I met Sean once when I read for the role of his brother in At Close Range." Did he get the part? "No, his brother Christopher did, "says Winter, adding with a laugh, "I guess it was flattering because it proves we don't look alike after all."

NO FAMILY TIES: Being married to STEVEN SPIELBERG has sharpened AMY IRVING'S self-defense skills. While in Rome to publicize her film Crossing Delancey, she responded to questions about why she hasn't yet starred in any of Steven's movies. "I've never worked with my husband, by personal choice," said Irving. "I want to be on my own. I started my career as the daughter of [theater director] JULES IRVING. I don't want to finish it as the wife of Spielberg or the mother of [son] MAX."

NAME DROPPING: As a comedian, EUGENE (SCTV) LEVY has to have an ear for what works and what doesn't. That's why he told his wife, DEBBY DIVINE, not to change her name when they married. "You just can't buy a name like that," he says. "I know it sounds like a stripper's name, but somehow Debby Levy just doesn't have the same ring."