MIKHAIL BARYSHNIKOV: BOTTLED UP

RICHARD MARX: CASTING ASIDES

HELENA BONHAM CARTER: CROSS SIGNALS

A SIGH-FI OFFER: Pop singer RICHARD MARX, whose new album is called Repeat Offender, disdains the 'lude behavior of some Holly wood types. Marx says his music videos have brought him calls from film casting agents, but so far he has ejected scripts such as the sci-fi one in which he'd play a rocker on another planet. "The people from Earth had to come there. The only way they could communicate was through rock music, and I was the leader of the planet. I thought, whoever wrote this has taken one too many Quaaludes," says Marx. "I was a huge ELVIS fan and enjoyed his movies, but I think they seriously hurt his career. I mean, for a pioneer of rock to sing 'Queenie Wahine's Papaya' is sad."

MAKES SCENTS: Now that he has lent his nickname to and helped select and package a perfume called Misha, ballet great MIKHAIL BARYSHNIKOV is discovering the sweet smell of success. But does he worry about becoming too commercial? "Well, this is not that different from when you first accept money for dancing, movies or television," he says. "This is a commercial venture, and I lost my virginity many years ago. As my friend [the late dancer] ERIK BRUHN used to say, 'We're all whores.' We have to be when we put our legs onstage, and there's nothing wrong with that. I am very proud of this product. I'm not just lending my name—there's a lot of me in it."

UNSAINTLY BEHAVIOR: Actress HELENA (A Room with a Viewy BONHAM CARTER, who stars in the forthcoming Francesco, a film about ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI, had less than saintly things to say about her co-star. "MICKEY ROURKE [who plays St. Francis] was a pain," Bonham Carter said in an interview with London's Daily Mail. "Not so much him but all the baggage he carried with him—his entourage of bodyguards and members of his family. I suppose because I wasn't six-foot tall with long legs and blond hair, he wasn't very interested. It was a case of whatever Mickey wanted, Mickey got. As soon as he'd finished shooting that day, he'd be surrounded by all his mounties who would flood the set to tell him how wonderful he was."

PUTTING ON THE DOG: If you're thinking of asking Academy Award-winning actor ROD STEIGER, whose hits include such classics as On the Waterfront, The Pawnbroker and In the Heat of the Night, for advice on how to break into showbiz, expect a ruff ride. "When people come up to me and say, 'I want to be a television actor,' " says Steiger, whose most recent movie was The January Man, "I tell them, 'If that is all that you aspire to become, just grow two more legs and a tail and change your name to Lassie.' "

NETWORKING GIRL: Anchorperson MARY ALICE WILLIAMS, NBC's recruit in the networks' recent get-a-gal-anchor competition, won't be among the journalists taking coffeepot shots at former anchor LINDA ELLERBEE for doing Maxwell House commercials. (Ellerbee reportedly was paid $550,000.) "It makes me very uncomfortable to think that any one person is responsible to an industry or masses of persons for a personal decision such as this," she says. "Now, are we [journalists] going to be like Congress and get into back stabbing?"