BOB HOSKINS: PIGEONHOLED

PAUL McCARTNEY: FILM REBUFF

ALICE WALKER: FOLKS'STORY

A REEL ROMEO? While such pop singers as MADONNA and STING obviously want to establish themselves as movie actors, PAUL MCCARTNEY doesn't have a rock and role fantasy. "I've had one or two exciting offers where someone thought, 'It's crazy, but he just might do it,' " McCartney tells VH-1's BOBBY RIVERS during an interview (airing June 10) promoting his new Flowers in the Dirt LP. "The wackiest was FRANCO ZEFFIRELLI, who offered me Romeo in the 1968 movie Romeo and Juliet with OLIVIA HUSSEY. I said, 'Thank you very much for thinking of me, Franco, baby. I love you, but I just can't do it.' First major film role and it's a classic one like that—I just couldn't."

DYNASTIES IN DECLINE: Former Boston Celtic great BOB COUSY, who played on six championship Celtic teams between 1956 and 1963, admires today's players but says their big salaries have killed team dynasties (though the L.A. Lakers now are going after a third straight NBA title). "It's extraordinary what players can do today," says Cousy, whose new book is called Cousy on the Celtic Mystique. "MICHAEL JORDAN goes up in the air, hangs there for two minutes, has a cup of coffee and then jams the ball. Today's jock is better and worked hard to get there, but he won't work as hard to stay there the way players did 25 years ago. Today's contracts make life too comfortable. The owners say, 'The $2 million is there whether you score 10 points or 30.' That's why you'll never have dynasties again."

PECKING ORDERS: British heftyweight BOB HOSKINS, the non-Toon gumshoe in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, recently directed his first film, called The Raggedy Rawney. "I'm very proud of it," says Hoskins, "but the toughest thing about directing is that everybody has to have a decision from you before they can start work. It's like being pecked to death by a thousand pigeons." And does Hoskins, now acting in Heart Condition, ever wish he had the looks of a more conventional leading man? "No. I think that's why I enjoy [being a success] so much. I'm a short, fat, middle-aged man with a broken nose and a bald head, and I'm suddenly an international star—I'm laughing all the way to the bank."

HOARSE SENSE: Voices don't get much richer, or lower, than SUZANNE (Nightingales) PLESHETTE'S. "Telephone operators have called me sir since I was 6, "says Pleshette. "When I first started acting at 10, dark hair and a deep voice did not an ingenue make. But I've always thought my voice was wonderful because I got to play character leads, which were much more interesting. I'm aware of it sounding even deeper now. Maybe, before, the sound men were raising my voice so it wouldn't be deeper than my leading man's. Now, maybe they've given up."

NOT ONE FOR THE BOOKS: Novelist ALICE WALKER'S readers number in the millions, but they don't include her mother. "Mom only went to the fourth grade, and my novels, well, are very big books and too much for her, "says Walker, whose latest work of fiction is called The Temple of My Familiar. "But it doesn't sadden me because I understand why she can't. She and my father had to work in the fields from a very small age. I think she learned more from watching the movie [of Walker's The Color Purple] than reading it because reading is such a struggle. I think she thought, 'Well, this child has really listened to me and has tried to make sense out of our history.' "