On the Waterfront
At the Venice Film Festival, celebs float in on a tide of glamor

Focus

Yes, the canals remain inspiring. And a moonlight ride in a gondola can still spark romance. But what really impressed the stars attending last week's 58th annual Venice Film Festival was the utter excess of it all. Fancy clothes, five-star hotels, parties galore—and many, many diamonds. "Bulgari came to my hotel today to loan me jewelry, and it was at that very moment I thought, 'My life doesn't suck,' " said Ally McBeal's Portia de Rossi, whose movie Women in Film played at the festival. However, de Rossi, attending a Friday night charity ball sponsored by the jeweler along with Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and a rain-soaked Claudia Schiffer ("I need a hairdryer-not for my hair but for my dress," she said), saw some of the weekend's extravagance result in a good cause.

Auctioning off Bulgari baubles for the AIDS charity amf AR, the stars and the rest of the guests at the $15,000-per-table event raised $700,000 for the cause. While amf AR Chair Elizabeth Taylor, who spoke at the event about the epidemic, got plenty of attention, most eyes seemed to be on Kidman, who attended another bash the following evening for the European premiere of her latest film, The Others.

Paparazzi—on boats and on foot—chased Kidman from the moment her plane landed, but the actress exhibited perfect control in the spotlight. "The Italians are great," she said. "And they know how to live well." Ditto Kidman, who stayed at an island hotel that provides butler service to some VIPs and showed up at the festival's events in one sexy outfit after another—including a pair of sky-high Tom Who ? heels.

Other guests getting their feet wet in rainy Venice last week included Ethan Hawke and wife Uma Thurman (due in January with their second child), Helen Hunt and Paul McCartney, who showed up Tuesday with fiancee Heather Mills to promote a short animated movie he produced called, appropriately, Tuesday.

Hardball About Hardball

Whoa. Claiming that Keanu Reeves's character paints a dim picture of him in the upcoming film Hardball, Chicago Little League coach Bob Muzikowski is suing the movie's producers for defamation of character and asking for $20 million in damages, which he says will go to charity. The film, about an aimless young man who agrees to coach an inner-city team, was "inspired" by a 1993 book about Muzikowski, admits a rep for coproducer Paramount Pictures. However, the spokesman says, the film is "a piece of fiction" and "not a movie about a reallife person." Muzikowski, 45, disagrees. According to his complaint, both he and Reeves's character work in securities and coach Little League in Chicago's Cabrini Green projects. Both drive blue station wagons. Both coach teams named after African tribes.

So where's the defamation? Muzikowski claims the film falsely portrays him as a violent drunk and wrongly shows the kids as potty-mouthed punks. (Ironically, the film's producers cleaned up the kids' language from the original script to get a better rating.) Says Muzikowski: "I want a 30-second thing in front of [the movie] saying this in no way reflects upon the League."

ARRESTING DEVELOPMENT

Hitting the lecture circuit this summer, Shannen Doherty spoke with teens around Los Angeles about her Dec. 29,2000, arrest for driving while under the influence of alcohol. "Thank God, I did not injure anybody," the former star of Charmed said at a Thousand Oaks teen center. "There hasn't been a day gone by that I haven't wanted to relive that decision to get in my car."

Thanks to a plea-bargain agreement, Doherty's lectures may fulfill a court order to perform community service and avoid jail time for the incident. (A judge will decide on Sept. 10 if the lectures are sufficient.) Saying she was upset with "boyfriend problems and everything else," Doherty recalled how she drank "two or three margaritas" with friends before driving home on the Ventura Freeway and being pulled over at 3 a.m. for weaving. She refused a breath test but was given a sobriety test at the scene, was arrested and spent the next 10 hours in jail. "It's probably one of the most humiliating, degrading experiences you can ever go through," said Doherty, 30, who pleaded no contest in April. "It's affected my career, it's affected the way I look at myself." She hopes the talks were tough. "You want to make sure you say the right thing and impress upon them how important this is," she told People. "I hope a big mistake in my life can be used to make sure nobody else makes that mistake."

Posh's Lip Disservice
"I just had it done a few minutes ago," Victoria Beckham, a.k.a. Posh Spice, explained to reporters asking about the lip ring she sported at her Birmingham, England, concert Aug. 27. "It hurts like hell." A lot less than the tongue-lashing she got when it turned out the ring was just a clip-on. "She is a real cow," said Clare Selby, a fan who got her own lip ring after seeing Beckham's. British newspapers predicted a spike in appointments for the somewhat risky procedure (infections sometimes occur). Beckham, hearing flack about her bad example, quickly fessed up. "The ring is not a real one," she said. "I had no idea it would cause this much fuss."

Back to You, Candice
She played reporter Murphy Brown for 10 years, but that isn't Candice Bergen's only experience in television journalism. Her piece last week for the Today show, about a program that arranges animal visits to hospital patients, simply came after a very long hiatus. Bergen was a Today contributor in the mid-70s, covering human-interest stories. "It's like coming home for her," says executive producer Jonathan Wald, adding that there are more Bergen reports to come. "She brings a fresh voice that's familiar—it's not often you get that."

POP QUIZ

with Tyra Banks

For a week this summer, skinny-kid-turned-supermodel Tyra Banks headed into the woods to lead Tzone, her Southern California camp aimed at building self-esteem in teenage girls. Banks, 27, spoke to Scoop about helping awkward adolescents find their inner swan.

Why did you start the camp?

I started getting tons of letters from young girls talking about their insecurities [and] I wanted to meet girls that were going through what I went through. I have great memories of camp—just having that camaraderie of girls that weren't from the same background thrown together. That's what happens at my camp.

How do the girls react when they first meet you?

The first day I see that they're kind of staring and asking to take a picture with me. After a while, when I'm doing the rope course with them or leading the talks, I'm just BBQ [her camp nickname], a girl like them.

You lead talks?

We talk about gender stereotyping one night, another night beauty and body image, and another night about sex, dating and relationships. And it's not just the surface of those issues. They get really deep.

Fashion, arguably, contributes to self-esteem problems. How do you deal with that?

I talk to them about how I'm very blessed to be a certain height and to be born a certain way where I was able to do this job. At the same time, it is not who I am, it's not what I am, it's what I do. I realize that [modeling] creates this image that's hard to live up to. But it's important for me to let young girls know how much of it is smoke and mirrors. I still go to work and see people, my peers, that make me feel insecure. I talk about that. I shed tears about that. It breaks down barriers.

So which is harder—work or camp?

It's harder than any acting or fashion shoot I've ever done. After it ended, I slept for 14 hours.

ON THIS BLOCK

A HARDY BOY'S DOWN EAST DIGS
Kirstie Alley's ex-husband, actor Parker Stevenson, is selling the sprawling former inn the couple bought on Islesboro island off the coast of Maine a decade ago. He has decided the 20-bedroom, 15 ½-bathroom summer house, built in 1916, is too big for him and the ex-couple's children (the pair share custody of William, 8, and Lillie, 7). The 4.5-acre property has a deep-water dock, boathouse, tennis court and pool. Stevenson, 49, is asking $7.8 million—"a bargain," according to Sotheby's New York broker John Golden, since the neighbors "are people like the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts."

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