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Apr 11, 2006, 8:51:10 AM4/11/06
--'THE Real World" is joining the mile-high club - touching down in
Denver for its 18th season. The long-running reality show, which
follows the antics of a group of young strangers who live together in a
luxurious house, is slated to return to MTV with 24 new episodes in
late fall. "Denver has absolutely everything we could hope for," said
MTV programming exec Lois Curren. "We're sure that the character and
spirit of this picturesque city will be endlessly compelling to the
seven roommates and audience alike." The show is expected to begin
filming in Denver next month. Each year, rumors abound about just where
producers will set the show. Until yesterday, it was believed that MTV
had chosen Detroit for the 18th season. Meanwhile, the 17th season is
currently unfolding on MTV and garnering some of the best ratings on
the network. "The Real World: Key West" is the most-watched show on
cable among its key audience (12-34).

--RETIREMENT obviously doesn't sit well with Cher, who might be the
next superstar to set up shop in Las Vegas. The well-preserved
diva-saur - who just finished a three-year "farewell" tour - is in
talks to take the stage at the Coliseum at Caesars Palace for a
whopping $60 million when Celine Dion gives up the same stage next
year. Cher will be paid roughly the same sum Barry Manilow is getting
to warble his moldy hits at the Las Vegas Hilton. Elton John also has a
regular gig at Caesars. A rep for Cher didn't return calls or e-mails.

--Bronx bombshell Jennifer Lopez filed a lawsuit in L.A. yesterday to
stop a salacious tell-all by her hunky first hubby - claiming Cuban
stud Ojani Noa broke a no-tell pact and tried to shake her down for $5
million. J.Lo claims he's using the racy manuscript to make a buck off
their brief 1997 marriage. Among other tidbits, Noa claims J.Lo cheated
on Sean "P. Diddy" Combs in 1999 with her current husband - but
then-married-to-someone-else - Marc Anthony.

--"SIN City" director Robert Rodriguez has a notable new squeeze. Just
days after filing for divorce from his wife of 16 years, Elizabeth
Avellan, we hear the talented helmer is dating actress Rose McGowan. If
things get serious, McGowan could have a lot on her hands - Rodriguez
has five kids with Avellan. A friend tells us: "Robert spends all of
his time on his ranch in Austin. His kids are home-schooled, and he
even shoots movies there and edits them on the property. He doesn't
like to leave much." Rodriguez's rep said, "Rose is working with Robert
on a yet-to-be-announced project. They have a professional

--BOXER Floyd Mayweather strutting into Light in Las Vegas after
lifting the I.B.F. welterweight belt off Brooklyn's Zab Judah - even
after the doorman turned away Mayweather's buddy, rap star Young Jeezy,
for being underdressed.

--HEATH Ledger scarfing sushi and cupcakes at his birthday celebration
with girlfriend Michelle Williams, Hank Azaria, Tim Robbins, Josh
Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson at Double Seven.

--ROBIN Williams pretending to be a waiter at Fresco by Scotto and
walking over to Al Roker and Deborah Roberts' table and yelling, "I
don't have time for this! Just tell me what you want!"

--RECLUSIVE "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee is quietly
peeping her head out these days. At the Upper West Side apartment of
author Richard Seaver last week at a party for Starling Lawrence's new
novel, "The Lightning Keeper," Lee - who keeps an Upper East Side
apartment - delighted the literati by chatting with partygoers. The
Post's Billy Heller, a guest, asked if she was ever asked about doing a
remake of the 1963 Gregory Peck film of her novel. "Is this an
interview?" asked Lee, now 79. She went on to respond, "Oh, yes" - but
added it would never happen. "No, no, no," she said. "It's even in my
will. And you can put that in [a story]." In another break from her
self-imposed silence, Lee provided a rare jacket blurb for Lawrence's
book. "I'm a sucker for good writing," she said, adding that "The
Lightning Keeper" "has a maturity and is a good story." Meanwhile, Lee
has a letter in The New Yorker pointing out errors in the movie
"Capote," in which Catherine Keener plays her. "The film has me talk to
[fabled New Yorker editor William] Shawn on the telephone - I didn't,"
she wrote. "And . . . Truman Capote was in Kansas; Mr. Shawn wasn't."

--B-LIST party boy Simon Rex was literally caught with his pants down
at the Chelsea nightclub Stereo over the weekend. The soused "Scary
Movie" actor asked to use his cellphone in a private hallway, but when
owners Michael Satsky and Barry Mullineaux checked on him 10 minutes
later, they found Rex with his pants down and about to empty his
bladder on the floor. They immediately bounced him out of the club.
Exposing himself is nothing new for Rex: Before he became semi-famous
as an MTV veejay in the 1990s, the former Paris Hilton plaything
appeared in gay porn videos.

--COLIN Farrell has a new addiction. The recently rehabbed "Miami Vice"
stud is apparently smitten with his "Pride & Glory" co-star, Lake Bell.
They arrived together at a Gen Art Film Festival bash at the Chelsea
swillery BED last week and were inseparable, talking and laughing in a
corner all night. "They're in a movie together," Farrell flack Danica
Smith explained. "He's always friendly with his cast mates." Indeed -
we've seen the porn flick he made with another "cast mate," Playboy
pinup Nicole Narain.

--SCOTT Weiland "stumbled" into the Key Club in Hollywood last week,
according to a witness - but a flack denies the claim. The supposedly
sober Velvet Revolver frontman, who's been in and out of rehab for
drugs and booze, later jumped onstage and belted out the Guns N' Roses
classic, "It's So Easy," backed by club house band, Metal Skool. Since
Weiland has been having a vicious war of words with GN'R singer Axl
Rose as of late, his selection only fueled rumors that he was under the
influence. But a spokeswoman for Azoff Management, the powerhouse firm
that handles Velvet Revolver, said our source must have been
bleary-eyed. "There is no truth to that whatsoever," she said, and also
dismissed rumors that Weiland was feuding with his Velvet Revolver
bandmates. "They are in the studio recording an album." Earlier that
night at Key Club, "Jackass" jerk Steve-O jumped onstage and shattered
a light bulb on his shaved head, opening a nasty gash that gushed blood
all over him. "He just laughed and rubbed it all over his face," said
our spy. "The scary part is it didn't stop a bunch of hot chicks from
grabbing him and hitting on him when he got off the stage."

--Chris Rock and Derek Jeter have insisted on a "no-Punking" clause in
their contracts before they agree to appear on MTV, so as not to be
pranked by Ashton Kutcher's show "Punk'd."

--When corpulent crooner Elton John is in town, he orders massive
amounts of sushi from Sushi Roku - often charging up to $2,000 for
elaborate meals for six to eight people per night.

--HIGHEST-paid movie actress Julia Roberts is attracting heavy-duty
respect from B'way's legit pros who can be a snooty, snotty bunch. Her
"Three Days of Rain" is in previews and opens the 19th. You already
know that. What you don't know is that when she exits the stage door
nightly she performs a third act. She stands there. Signs autographs.
Behaves great. We're talking in the legend of the old-timers, those
bigbig stars who knew how to treat the little people. Today gorillas
elbow fans out of the way so a 15-minute-flash hotshot in torn jeans
can barrel his way into a stretch limo. Julia Roberts is doing it
big-time. Even in last week's pouring rain, this smart lady who knows
how to extend a career signed her name and produced that
trillion-dollar smile for those who'd waited.

--Edie Falco's off to St. Martin: "My son's first time at the beach.
We'll go even though my Italian grandmother's upset that we're not
having our usual Easter dinner with her."

--MELANIE Griffith and Antonio Banderas finally found an apartment
after hunting for years. She wanted a view. He wanted extra bedrooms.
They both wanted New York. She'd once told me, "We don't need such a
large place. My son's 20. Not like he needs a room for his own nanny.
The problem is, New York is expensive. You have to be really rich. And
if your expenses aren't underwritten by some studio, you have to pay
for everything, like a car and driver, yourself because that's what you
need here." They bought on Central Park West, but right now the
decorators are living there. Melanie tells me they should be in by
July. "I'm really dying to move in," says our town's newest resident.

--WAIT. I opened another drawer and discovered more stuff. About Liz
Hurley and her former lover Hugh Grant and his current lover Jemima
Khan and her former husband Imran Khan. Seems Liz accepted an invite
from Imran, a handsome cricket player-turned-politician in Pakistan. He
was married to Jemima Goldsmith, a Brit financier's rich daughter who
turned divorcee. The split was messy. The blood is bad. Liz, who once
was Hugh Grant's love, is now playing potsy with Imran, whose bitter
ex-wife Jemima is the new love of Hugh Grant. We clear on all this?
Anyway, Imran invited Liz to Pakistan. Liz won't stop calling Hugh to
tell him all this. She's on one phone to Hugh cootchy-cooing and
whispering this news. Jemima is on the other phone to him screeching
about how could Liz do this to her.

--JACK Valenti's life story, tentatively titled "An American Saga: A
Memo rial of War, Assassination in Dallas, the White House and 38 Years
in Hollywood" (longest title in captivity) was bought by Harmony. Out
in November.

--Felicity Huffman, Robert Downey Jr., Jennifer Jason Leigh, Natalie
Portman all started in the Catskills. Summer camp Stagedoor Manor,
where some of these stars including Mandy Moore and Zach Braff
blossomed, is the subject of a coming documentary.

--'NICOLE KIDMAN is an extraordinary actress, and Russell Crowe is very
good as well - though I know he has some problems." And that little
critique comes not from a Hollywood exec, nor a fan queried on the
street. These prosaic words were uttered last week in Los Angeles by
none other than former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev! Gorbachev
was in Lotus Land to announce the Women's World Awards (happening in
N.Y.C. in October). To add an even more surreal touch, Gorbachev was
joined by a slightly testy Teri Hatcher, who seems to have endured
enough questions about her recent Vanity Fair revelations of childhood
abuse. "I have to get back to my show," said Teri, leaving Mr.
Gorbachev to fend for himself. Although he doesn't speak English, he
handled himself very well. He was full of childlike enthusiasm for the
movie biz. In fact, they had to practically employ the hook to get him
off the podium, so carried away was he by his various screen faves. He
likes Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Kevin Costner
("I know he is a good person.") and, before he was persuaded to chat
about, oh . . . Iraq, Iran, world poverty, etc., he smiled broadly and
said, "I understand Sharon Stone has a new film out, which I am anxious
to see."

--Harrison Ford was reportedly knocked unconscious after a recent fall
from a horse. But he thought it was a riot. "I only came to when the
horse started licking my face." Harrison's beloved, Calista Flockhart,
was not amused and demanded the star wear a helmet whenever he rides -
or else.

--PAMELA ANDERSON is concerned about the salty language her two young
sons use every time they come back from visiting their dad, rocker
Tommy Lee. Taking an old page from the pious book of Loretta Young, the
blond pinup set up a "swear box" in the house. Her boys have to pay
from their allowance if they utter any expletives. Of course, just days
later, animal lover Pam came across a man kicking a dog and let loose
with a violent stream of unprintables. Her kids gleefully led her to
the swear box.

--HUGH GRANT stayed recently at a hotel in the Cotswolds in Southern
England. The bedding was high-quality ducksdown, but as it wasn't
hypoallergenic, he feared the ducky sheets and pillowcases might bring
on his asthma. What to do? Call your ex, Elizabeth Hurley, who sent
over the right stuff for Hugh to rest his thick head of hair upon.
Relationships change, but a duvet is forever.

--TOM CRUISE, the anti-psychiatrist crusader starring as the father of
modern therapy, Sigmund Freud?! Not likely, but never underestimate the
desperation of a hungry scriptwriter. Tom was approached at a baseball
game, watching son Connor play, when the writer offered the idea.
Cruise is said to have laughed, "Come on, are you nuts? I'm totally
against it. Everybody knows that!" But the writer, pressed "That's why
it would be such a great idea. Everybody would be talking about it!"
Tom Cruise doesn't need to play Freud to keep people talking. SPEAKING
OF Tom, he's on the cover of GQ for May, grinning that famous grin, and
expressing absolutely no regrets or second thoughts about anything he's
ever said or done over the past year. Interviewed by Lucy Kaylin, Tom
leaps off the page with all the bravura and uncomfortable-to-some
intensity that has always been a part of his emotional makeup. This
self-confidence is now flowering in full. Still, Kaylin says that after
spending time with the star, you come away feeling "Damn - I'll have
what he's having!" Aside from the riveting revelation that his pregnant
beloved Katie Holmes "craves cupcakes," it is his attitude on sex that
is most interesting - especially for a good-looking man who can get it
anytime he wants. He considers sex without love . . . horrible. "It's
really horrible and pathetic and lonely. And yech." (Lots of women
would jump on couches for a man like that.)

--AT THE 100th anniversary of the Every man's Library in London's Royal
Academy of Art, the widowed Mrs. Joseph Heller spoke with Prince
Charles about her late husband's great novel "Catch 22." Prince Charles
seemed abashed that he did not have the book in his personal library.
So a special American edition, published by Everyman's, has been sent
to the Prince. Maybe Mike Nichols should send a copy of his classic
film version of Heller's book. A masterpiece made from a masterpiece.
If I could write like anyone in the world, I would want to write like
my friend, Joe Heller!

--About a month ago, we asked Russell Simmons whether it was true he
and wife Kimora might be splitting. "Nah," the hip-hop mogul said,
brushing off the rumors. "Some people say Kimora's into girls," he
laughed. "Hey, if that were true, I wouldn't have a problem with it!"
Whatever their reasons, the two have since confirmed they're splitting.
But that didn't stop them from co-hosting the Art for Life benefit at
Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach last Saturday. Open-minded
as Russell is about love triangles, he didn't bring his 23-year-old
girlfriend, Denise Vasi. Still, there were moments of awkwardness. Like
when honoree Denise Rich asked guests, "Don't they look good together?"
She added, "[Russell,] you have always taken my advice, but this time
you're not!" "Things between Russell and Kimora seemed strained,"
according to one guest. "She showed up late and left right after she
was finished speaking onstage." Also at the party was "View" co-host
Star Jones, still recovering from her recent breast-lift. "Her breasts
must hurt after the surgery," says our spy. "She kept touching them all

--Sarah Silverman says she has gotten into kabbala. "It's like the best
slice of being Jewish without the 'noseness' of it all," the
equal-opportunity offender told Teri Hatcher, Julianne Moore and others
at an L.A. benefit for tuberous sclerosis research. "It's different
from Scientology - which is totally gay," she joked. "I mean their
slogan is, 'Scientology, it's like a party in your a-.'"

--Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro weren't exactly a picture of
matrimonial bliss last Saturday, when she celebrated her 36th birthday
at the Impulse party at Aer. The two arrived separately and left
separately. "They kept their distance from each other all night," our
spy tattles. Navarro left at 2 a.m., and Electra continued to party
until at least 4.

--We'll have to wait to see if Joe Gannascoli, who plays gay wiseguy
Vito Spatafore on "The Sopranos," ends up offing himself. We can tell
you Gannascoli is doing much better after Dr. Chit Ranawat performed a
double hip replacement on the heavyset actor. Dropping by Lenox Hill to
say hello were castmates Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico and Steve

--Jimmy Fallon checked out John Mellencamp in Atlantic City last
weekend, then lived out his own rock fantasy by covering Queen and
Steve Miller songs at the Borgata's Gypsy Bar.

--Harry Connick Jr. and friends celebrated wife Jill Goodacre's
birthday at Tao on Thursday.

--Gay fans of Jake Gyllenhaal are determined to claim the "Brokeback
Mountain" star as their own. Blogosphere gossips have been claiming
that Gyllenhaal was ready to admit he was having trouble quitting actor
Austin Nichols, whom he has known since high school. But sorry, guys,
there won't be any coming-out party. Even though Jake is now split with
Kirsten Dunst and Nichols broke off his engagement to Claire Oswalt,
Gyllenhaal's rep says he and Nichols are just friends.

--Katie Couric is getting congrats from power women of all stripes on
her new CBS News anchor job. Nancy Reagan dropped a note. Also phoning
her have been Bushies Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes, as well as
Dems Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright. Meanwhile, despite reports
of resistance from CBS' old guard, Couric has received welcoming words
from Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and Lesley Stahl.

--Lindsay Lohan is getting waxed. Tomorrow, the "Prairie Home
Companion" actress will be the youngest person to be immortalized by
Madame Tussaud's. Take your pic with "Lindsay," and the Times Square
museum will message it to your mobile.

--What took her so long? It's hard to believe that Hollywood siren Ali
MacGraw waited until she turned 68 - and impossible to fathom that
the youthful movie star really is that age - to savor her Broadway
debut. "I'm in shock," MacGraw told me at Tavern on the Green after
basking in applause at the Music Box Theater for her portrayal of the
twisted mom in "Festen," a dark drama - or maybe a tragedy of manners
- about a well-to-do family hiding a sinister secret at the
patriarch's 60th-birthday dinner. "This has really been such an
adventure for me," MacGraw added, humbly acknowledging that getting
onstage has been a scary, if exhilarating, experience. Co-star Julianna
Margulies - who plays Ali's daughter - was a tad more secure. "I'm
tough," she said when I asked about her impressive right hook, deployed
in a fight scene against Jeremy Sisto as her brother. One scene
requires the actors to eat in silence for several minutes. "I come
hungry," Margulies said. "One time somebody slapped pork on the plate,
and some of us don't like to eat pork. But you have to eat it, so I ate
it." Read about Ali's inimitable style and see Howard Kissel's review
of "Festen," today on the entertainment page.

--Susan Polk gives new meaning to shamelessness. The 48-year-old
accused California murderess - who's on trial in the savage 2002
stabbing death of her estranged husband, Felix - is already casting
the movie. Winona Ryder can play her, because "she knows what jail is
like, but she's also a very good actress," Polk told Court TV's
"Catherine Crier Live" yesterday. As for the unfortunate Felix, "maybe
Anthony Hopkins could do it, except that Hannibal Lecter was a likable
character more than my husband was."

--Faster than a ray of light, Madonna sold out every ticket - even
those going for $400 a pop - to her initial run of shows at Madison
Square Garden for her upcoming "Confessions" tour. Ten minutes after
they went on sale yesterday morning, all seats were gone for the first
two announced New York dates, June 28 and 29. A short time later, the
promoter announced two more dates, July 2 and 3, and those sold out by
early afternoon. A fifth show has just been added for July 18. Tickets
for that date go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. The 47-year-old material mom
also quickly sold out all seven shows at London's Wembley Arena, four
concerts in Paris, plus all dates in Los Angeles, Miami, Montreal and
Chicago. Fans who've been shut out shouldn't give up. It's common for
seats held for various production and promotion purposes to be released
for sale closer to the concert dates. Madonna's dance-oriented
"Confessions" show opens at Los Angeles' The Forum on May 21.

--Production has begun on "The Cheetah Girls 2," the followup to the
successful Disney Channel movie based on a series of books that follow
a budding pop group. Raven-Symone, Adrienne Bailon, Kiely Williams and
Sabrina Bryan are all back as the teen group seeking fame. And Lynn
Whitfield and Lori Alter are back as two of the girls' parents.
Shooting began yesterday in Barcelona, Spain. This time around, the
girls head to the Barcelona music festival, where they cross paths with
solo singer Marisol (played by Mexican pop singer and actress Belinda
Peregrin in her first English-language role). That's just the start of
the turmoil, of course. Kenny Ortega ("High School Musical") will
direct and choreograph "The Cheetah Girls 2." The film will air in

--The third season premiere of Spike TV's "The Ultimate Fighter" last
Thursday drew the highest ratings ever for an original series on the

--TV One has acquired the rerun rights to "All of Us," "Eve," "Martin,"
"Living Single" and "Showtime at the Apollo" as part of a deal with
Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution.

--Actress (Eve) and former Miss USA Ali Landry wed in Mexico over the
weekend, her manager said Monday. Landry married director Alejandro
Monteverde in San Miguel de Allende on Saturday, according to her
manager Elissa Leeds.

--A judge Monday turned down actor Robert Blake's request for a new
trial in the wrongful-death lawsuit over the slaying of his wife,
rejecting arguments that members of the jury engaged in misconduct in
reaching the $30 million verdict.

--Finding Nemo is the latest Disney film to come to life as a musical.
Making its synergy-laden debut at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theater in
the Wild in Orlando in late 2006, Finding Nemo - The Musical will tell
the story of Nemo and his father, Marlin, through puppets, dancers,
acrobats and animated backdrops.

--Thom Bell, Mac Davis, Will Jennings, Sylvia Moy and Henry Cosby are
the latest inductees to the Songwriters Hall of Fame. The group will be
honored in a ceremony June 15 in New York. Bell is considered a
principal architect of the "Philly Soul" sound, with hits by The
Stylistics, The Spinners and The Delfonics. Davis wrote the Elvis
Presley hits A Little Less Conversation and In the Ghetto. Jennings won
an Oscar for the song Up Where We Belong, from the film An Officer and
a Gentleman. Moy wrote theme songs for television and theme music for
movies, including Mr. Holland's Opus, and collaborated with Cosby on
several songs, including the Stevie Wonder hit My Cherie Amour.

--Rocker Jon Bon Jovi and filmmaker Martin Scorsese will be honored May
4 at HELP USA's annual Tribute Awards dinner at New York's Gotham Hall.
The Tribute Awards recognize efforts that offer assistance, mentorship
and support. Past recipients of the HELP Heroes Award include
Christopher Reeve, Whoopi Goldberg, Harry Belafonte, Sen. Hillary
Rodham Clinton and baseball notables Mike Piazza and Joe Torre.

3 A.M. GIRLS/Kiki King, Eva Simpson & Caroline Hedley
--JACK White's new band The Raconteurs have had to change their name in
Australia. Jack and fellow Detroit rocker Brendan Benson will now be
known as The Saboteurs in Oz. The change follows the discovery that an
Australian jazz group are already playing under the Raconteurs moniker.
Jack says in a statement: "To make things easier, and in the spirit of
espionage and subversion, we have decided to become The Saboteurs in
Australia only." How polite.

--RAPPER Eminem claims the exhaustion of touring led to him "medicating
himself to death" with prescription drugs. The Slim Shady star, who is
divorcing wife Kim for the second time, checked into rehab last year,
cancelling the rest of his Anger Management tour. Em, 33, says: "You're
on the bus, the bus is shaking and you got ta get sleep. It drove me
insane. It was like, 'I'm gonna f***ing die if I keep this up'."

--AS the star of Employee Of The Month, Jessica Simpson lives up to the
film's title. The actress caught a crippling tummy bug in the final
days of filming in New Mexico last week but refused to cancel her
scenes. Our on-set spy reveals: "At one point Jessica passed out but
she soldiered on."

--MATTHEW Perry has lots of lady Friends. A few weeks ago he was dating
actress Piper Perabo. Now he's been spot ted with ex-Sex And The City
star Kristin Davis. "They first met at their LA gym and were seen
splitting an ice cream at La Dolce Vita restaurant," says our mole.
"They looked very into each other."

--KATE Moss was yesterday celebrating a £500,000 deal with Calvin
Klein as she waits to learn if she will face charges over her cocaine
abuse. It boosts her estimated earnings to nearly £9mil-lion a year,
almost double what she made before her drugs shame. Kate's 1992 Calvin
Klein ads turned her into a superstar. Campaign creative director
Fabien Baron said last night: "Kate and Calvin Klein have a long
history together and it felt natural to reunite them for this new Jeans
campaign."The ads will be shot in New York. The company was throwing a
dinner for Kate in the US last night. The Mirror last year revealed
Kate snorted cocaine while watching on-off lover Pete Doherty's band
Baby-shambles record in Chiswick, West London. Kate will hear next week
if she will be prosecuted. The Crown Prosecution Service said yesterday
it has "everything we need" to decide.

--KYLIE Minogue flashed a smile on holiday - and showed she's bouncing
back from her breast cancer battle. The pop princess, 37, looked a
picture of health as she strolled around Italian village Portofino with
boyfriend Olivier Martinez, 40. She was diagnosed last May but is on
the road to recovery. One onlooker said: "She looked great. It's nice
to see her enjoying herself."

L.A. DAILY NEWS/By Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith
--Anne- Marie Johnson admits she's "very conflicted" about "The L.A.
Riot Spectacular" - the upcoming indie film about the Rodney King
riots in which she stars with Snoop Dogg, Emilio Estevez and Charles S.
Dutton. "My father was a proud officer of the LAPD for several years,
and this really concentrates on one of the worst periods in LAPD
history," notes Johnson. Be that as it may, she insists, it is
"hysterically funny. We do a sendup of tabloid shows like Entertainment
Tonight,' and I play a complete rip-off of everyone who's even close to
( ET' host) Mary Hart. It's pretty cruel, but I had a ball doing it."

--Hot multiplatinum record producer Jonathan "J.R." Rotem is in the
potentially uncomfortable position of working with rapper 50 Cent and
50's ex-protege The Game - who started their very public feud more
than a year ago. Both are saying they've moved past their conflict.
Rotem just says he tries "not to get involved in those things."I think
in general people in the industry realize their beefs are their own,
and at the end of the day they want to work with good producers," adds
the man who is producing songs for 50 Cent and his G-Unit Records
posse, as well as for The Game's upcoming new album. Rotem's credits
speak for themselves. In just the last year, the classically trained
pianist, who got his start producing for Destiny's Child, was the
mastermind behind some 60 tunes recorded by such hip-hop artists as 50
Cent, Fabolous, Mya, Jojo, Foxxy Brown, Busta Rhymes, Talib Kweli -
and including the latest singles from Rihanna and Lil' Kim. On a front
burner now for G-Unit, he says, "I'm doing Mobb Deep's album, and I'm
also working on albums for Young Buck, MOP and Olivia." As for The Game
(real name Jayceon Taylor) - who's currently under Grammy-winning
veteran rapper/producer Dr. Dre's wing - Rotem says, "His album is
going to be incredible. From what I can tell it's going to be a

--Stephanie March, who is back to playing her popular Alexandra Cabot
D.A.'s office character in NBC's "Conviction," says part of the reason
she took on the frosh Dick Wolf series was its shared load. Referring
to her former Wolf show, "Law & Order: SVU," and her erstwhile cast
mates, she says, "God love Chris Meloni and Mariska Hargitay - their
schedules are blistering, terrible schedules. But it really is an
ensemble on Conviction.' Episode to episode, different people carry the
weight. And we've discovered, over the course of the season,
everybody's had a pretty even workload."

--What About Brian" star Barry Watson returned to the TV series game
largely because, he says, he and his wife, Tracy, were expecting their
baby son, Oliver, now 11 months old - and "I wanted to stay close to
home. It's the best thing that's happened to me this past year, that
little boy. My priority is my family." He admits that's a little
ironic, considering he's playing the last single guy among a group of
friends - the guy who just can't get relationships right - on his new
ABC show that airs Monday nights. "But I've been this guy. I know this
life," he's quick to add. In fact, the one-time "7th Heaven" heartthrob
now comes off a bit like the old sage when it comes to love. His
character, he says, "has a trust issue with himself, trusting what he
wants. He sabotages himself in relationships, which I think is common -
not just for men, but for women as well. Women have a way of sticking
themselves with the wrong guy, finding one little thing that they like
and trying to hang a whole relationship on that," he opines. Watson
enjoys his dual existence. "I get to play this single guy during the
day, but then I've got my reality I come home to."

--Working with "a great filmmaker like David Fincher" was an offer far
too good to resist, says Anthony Edwards, who recently completed work
on Fincher's "Zodiac" feature - about the hunt for San Francisco's
infamous Zodiac serial killer. "Mark Ruffalo and I play the detectives,
and Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr. play the reporters," adds
Edwards. "It's like a great novel in the way that the story builds by
going back and forth between their two different worlds." He's not in a
hurry to get back to the cameras, however. Since leaving "ER" in 2002,
the well-liked actor says he's made spending time with his family his
priority. And he has other work close to his heart - including his deep
involvement with Cure Autism Now. Though his immediate family is not
affected by autism, he started working with CAN back when "ER" was
first taking off, and went on to serve on its board of directors for
eight years. He also helped put together the partnership between CAN
and General Motors that's led to the CAN logo appearing on NASCAR pace
cars all through April, Autism Awareness Month, and to GM sponsoring
the organization's Walk Now events across the country. An April 22 L.A.
5K at the Rose Bowl will be followed by walks in Las Vegas, San
Francisco, Honolulu, New York and other cities. "They're fun events.
There's music, and the day just becomes a celebration. People who have
any kind of compassion for kids and families will have a good time
there," says Edwards. (Information is available at
"Families that are affected get to experience being part of a community
that is supported by a wider community, and they can share something
that's impacted their lives so deeply."

--Sherilyn Fenn is fascinated by the premise of her forthcoming ABC
Family series "Three Moons Over Milford," which proposes a dire
astronomical situation in which all of us inhabitants of Earth learn
that the planet's days are numbered. "You watch the news and see how
oddly relevant it is," she notes. In the show, "People are forced to be
present right now, not knowing when they're going to die. People are
losing it. People are doing things because they're running out of time.
I play a mother of two teenage kids, one of whom is starting an affair
with the 31-year-old woman across the street - things like that." It's
food for thought, that's for sure.

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