Band Leaders
Brad and Jen give a ringing endorsement

Focus

On Jan. 15 Jennifer Aniston's Jaguar was hit by a driver backing out of a Hollywood driveway. The Friends star, who complained of minor injuries but declined medical treatment, drove off in her own vehicle, according to authorities. Was Aniston showing true grit, or is she merely accustomed to wild rides?

Consider her recent roller-coaster legal wranglings. More than a year ago, her husband, Brad Pitt, 38, enlisted Italian jeweler Damiani to help him design the diamond-and-white-gold rings he and Aniston, 32, exchanged at the couple's wedding in July 2000. A year later the couple sued the jeweler for $50 million, claiming Damiani had exploited their images to hawk knockoffs of the couple's rings in low-end outlets.

Jump forward to Jan. 10, when—surprise!—a Damiani rep announced the dispute had been "amicably resolved." What's Italian for "understatement"? Turns out Pitt has agreed to design a jewelry collection for Damiani, and Aniston will star in an ad campaign this spring. One proviso: The ads won't be shown in North America.

Why the reversal? Aniston is likely reaping a cool million for the deal, estimates one ad expert. And Pitt gets to indulge his inner craftsman. "I don't think he's going to have a problem," says Los Angeles jewelry designer Cindy Lopez. "He has a strong vision of who he is."

Thieving in the Material World?
As a Beatle, George Harrison sang about the taxman confiscating estates. Now, in court papers, his widow, Olivia Harrison, charges that her former brother-in-law Carl Roles wanted a piece of that action too. Harrison, 54, accuses Roles of stealing more than 10 boxes of her late husband's belongings from the family's Bel Air, Calif., home after it was destroyed by a 1980 mud slide (the Harrisons thought the items were lost). On Nov. 30, a day after George's death, Roles attempted to sell the trove, says Harrison, but was caught in an FBI sting set up with help from the ex-Beatle's private detective. Harrison and other family members "were quite upset," says her attorney Robert Chapman. For his part, Roles, 58, known in his hometown of Temecula, Calif., as the Toaster Man—he claims to have one of the world's largest collections—insists that the memorabilia were given to him.

Frazier vs. Ali
Out in Hollywood, Will Smith, Paul Simon, Angela Bassett and a host of partygoers toasted the man, Muhammad Ali, at his 60th-birthday bash on Jan. 12 at the new Kodak Theatre. Meanwhile, Scoop took one of Ali's greatest rivals, Smokin' Joe Frazier, who runs a boxing gym in Philadelphia, to the movies. And what better movie to see than Ali? The excursion began warmly enough, with Frazier, 58, who has traded verbal punches with the champ over the years, declaring, "It's time for him and me to bury the hatchet." But during a scene where a referee halts one of Ali's matches, Frazier noted, "That's how he won all his fights, with people stopping them." Frazier also contests the film's depiction of him wavering before accepting Ali's fight challenge. "I said, 'I'll kick your ass,' " says Frazier. But the knockout punch was thrown when Smokin' Joe turned into Snorin' Joe: He nodded off for a catnap partway through the 2-hour-and-40-minute movie.

Saving a Grand Ole Pal
When word trickled out that Nashville's Grand Ole Opry might lose its broadcast home, protesters yelped louder than a long-tailed hound in a roomful of rocking chairs (or whatever else Dan Rather, given the opportunity, might say). WSM-AM, which has carried the show since 1925, was considering converting to a sports-talk station. But e-mail and phone calls swamped the station's owner, Gaylord Entertainment; Vince Gill objected; and George Jones joined picketers outside WSM headquarters. The result? The Opry broadcast lives!—though it might now become syndicated. Said Gaylord CEO Colin Reed: "WSM-AM is a gem that just needs some polishing."

Mariah, Back for Seconds
It takes guts, after the debacle that was Glitter, to step right up and promote another movie. But there was Mariah Carey, 32, at the Sundance Film Festival to talk up her new film, Wise Girls (costarring Mira Sorvino), which premiered there last week. No Glitter shell shock? "If I was gun-shy, I'd be home hiding under the covers," says Carey. "I'm a fighter. I have been since I was a kid." So what does she do with an ouch review? Says Carey: "You can always wrap fish in it."

The Ryder Saga, Part II
The Winona Ryder soap opera continues. The actress was arrested on Dec. 12 for shoplifting $4,760 worth of merchandise from L.A.'s Saks Fifth Avenue and possessing painkillers without a prescription. At a hearing on Jan. 10, her case was postponed for a month so that prosecutors can study what they termed "new evidence." The evidence, says Ryder's attorney Mark Geragos, included shopping receipts and drug prescriptions that would clear his client's name. If the charges are not dropped, the surveillance tape, which allegedly shows her snipping the antitheft tags off the clothes, may be seen by the public.

Sunken Treasure
Dude, where's my car? For Nicolas Cage, the unfortunate answer turned out to be: 12 feet under Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks. The vehicle in question, a collector-quality 1989 Porsche valued at $100,000, vanished Christmas Day from an Arnold, Mo., parking lot as it was being transported to Philadelphia for an auction sale. Missouri police got a tip that the car slept with the fishes and pulled it out of the lake on Jan. 10. (Michael Grambling, 19, has been arrested and charged with, in the words of Det. Nick McBroom, "a Missouri-type thing—stealing without consent.") Meanwhile, Cage isn't exactly thumbing rides. The avid car collector owns, according to press reports, a '67 Corvette, a Bentley, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, a '67 Chevelle and a '55 Porsche.

Now, a Message from Farley's Friends
Chris Farley would have been 38 years old in February. The fact emerges not as sad trivia but rather as a lesson to be learned in an antidrug public-service announcement featuring Saturday Night Live players Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Horatio Sanz and Rachel Dratch. "It's cool to be a part of this," says Fallon. "That's one of the cool things about being famous, when you realize you can actually do things like this that help people."

The spots, which are set to begin airing on Jan. 28, are the brainchild of Tom Farley, older brother of the comic who died in 1997 at age 33 from an accidental drug overdose after years of substance abuse. "The people who love Chris," says Tom, 40, "are those most susceptible to following the path he took—young people, teens, college students. We wanted to reach them." SNL's next generation say they still feel the Farley vibe. Head sketch writer Fey remembers the time she presented him as a surprise guest at a Chicago comedy club. "No one in the audience knew he was there," says Fey, who joined fellow cast members at Manhattan's Mercury Lounge for the taping. "Then I introduced him, and there was this huge roar, like he was a rock star." It was a moment with which Fallon et al could identify. "We all looked up to him," says Sanz. "He was from our theater. He was one of us."

ON THE BLOCK

HARRY'S HOUSE

While presiding over NBC's Night Court from 1984 to 1992, Harry Anderson often prefered a magician's wand to a judge's gavel. He now lives in New Orleans, where he has opened a magic shop. Recently Anderson, 49, completed a West Coast vanishing act by selling his 6,400-sq.-ft. house in Pasadena. Built in 1906, the six-bedroom abode features three wings surrounding a courtyard. How much, you ask, for this Craftsman-style gem, designed by renowned architects Charles and Henry Greene and complete with Tiffany sconces? An offer just shy of $3 million did the trick.

  • Contributors:
  • Ting Yu,
  • Liza Hamm,
  • Greg Adkins,
  • Ron Arias,
  • Bob Calandra,
  • Cecilia De La Paz,
  • Ruth Andrew Ellenson,
  • Mike Fleeman,
  • Julie Jordan,
  • Elizabeth Leonard,
  • Bob Meadows,
  • Barbara Sandler,
  • Vicki Sheff-Cahan,
  • Michele Stueven,
  • Kelly Williams.