Whither Ben and Gwyneth?

06/30/1998 at 12:00 AM EDT

Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck

It had to happen: Even the august New York Times has gotten into the are-they-or-are-they-not guessing game surrounding Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow, 28. The newspaper of record put the question to the test at this week's Manhattan premiere of the love story "Bounce," which stars the couple, who were also known to have been an item off the screen well before the movie was made. Actually, the Times's question was, "Are you tired of the Ben-and-Gwyeneth chemistry question?" "I'm not," replied "Bounce" costar Natasha Henstridge, "but they probably are." The Times being The Times, however, it even put the question to Affleck. "Gwyneth who?" he responded. (The Times noted he was joking.) Then he explained their relationship. "We stayed friends. It was hard for people to believe. It's a testament to her maturity, not mine." Then again, the hunk, 28, clearly has a predilection for mature women. "I am not in a relationship now," he said, adding that "Bounce" is about "having someone at the end of the day you can count on. For me now, that is my mom."

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