Under her spell
Since getting on the fast track to stardom with the 1994 action hit Speed, Sandra Bullock has veered toward female-oriented fare this year with the romantic drama Hope Floats and the new witchcraft comedy Practical Magic, opening Oct. 16. "Having girls as fans is the greatest compliment in the world," says Bullock, 34, who costars with Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic. "Women are each other's harshest critics. When women don't accept you, it's a huge blow." Despite her popularity, Bullock admits she has a tough time measuring herself against other screen beauties. "I look at certain actresses in movies and say, 'How will I achieve that?' " she says, adding with a laugh, "I'll get surgery and a dye job, and maybe I'll be close."

Bad taste
Chicago Hope's Peter Berg reports that he will soon be making his last rounds on the CBS hospital drama. "I'm leaving the show in January," says Berg, 36, who has played Dr. Billy Kronk since 1995. "TV is a brutal, demanding schedule. And my tastes are not necessarily compatible with network TV." Apparently, Berg's taste isn't compatible with movie studios either. The actor encountered major resistance to his writing-directing feature debut, the black comedy Very Bad Things, due next month. "Everybody said no," says Berg, who managed to line up Cameron Diaz, Christian Slater and Jeremy Piven to star before PolyGram finally picked up the completed film. "They were just afraid. These execs would look at the script and say, 'Are you out of your mind? This is not funny—a dead woman on a hook in a bathroom.' " Fortunately, adds Berg, "I wasn't told no when I was writing it, because I didn't tell anyone about it."

Ant misbehavin'
Having given voice to the Queen ant in the new animated movie Antz, does it now bug Anne Bancroft to stomp out the little critters? "Not at all," says Bancroft, 67, whose voice joins those of Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Gene Hack-man and Jennifer Lopez in the film. "If they invade my home, I kill them. I never think, 'Gee, that could be Woody Allen.' I still squash it."

Flex appeal
A buffed-up Kurt Russell flexes his pecs as a space militiaman in the futuristic action-adventure Soldier, opening Oct. 23. "I'm in the best physical condition of my entire life," says Russell, 47, who trained 15 months for the role. So is the actor's longtime love, Goldie Hawn, pumped up about his new bod? "She's a dancer, so she appreciates the body," says Russell, "But even in the wildest stretch of my imagination, this is not [how] I'd try to appeal to Goldie. Men who are consumed with their physical appearance are fairly revolting to most of society."

Chan do
There's still plenty of fight left in movie action hero Jackie Chan. "I think three more years," says Chan, 44, who costars with comedian Chris Tucker in the hit action comedy Rush Hour. "Things hurt now. But the good thing is that these action films are laying a foundation for my next career. I want to do drama. I want to do stuff like Michael Douglas." But don't expect Chan to steam up the screen in anything like Fatal Attraction or Basic Instinct. "Oh, no!" he says with a laugh. "I have a few rules that I tell my manager: No sex scenes! No make love! The kids who like me don't need to see it. It would gross them out."