Back to Business

With a film offer and a modeling gig, Winona Ryder makes a fresh start

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, famously, that there are "no second acts in American lives." Clearly he never saw an episode of Celebrity Mole. Nor did he anticipate the career arc of Winona Ryder, who—a mere three months after being convicted of felony theft and vandalism—appeared close to a deal to star opposite Everybody Loves Raymond's Ray Romano in the black comedy Eulogy. Even though Ryder was fined and sentenced to perform 480 hours of community service, the producers of Eulogy, which also stars Debra Winger, Rip Torn and Hank Azaria and is set to begin shooting Feb. 21, seemed to have no compunctions about signing the star. Says Maxine Leonard, a spokeswoman for production company Myriad Pictures: "She is an Oscar-nominated actress, and she fits in with a great ensemble cast."

Ryder will also be fitting in to some couture togs. Designer Marc Jacobs has tapped the star to model his creations for a spring advertising campaign. That should suit the actress fine: Among the $5,560.40 worth of merchandise Ryder snatched from Saks Fifth Avenue in December 2001 was a Marc Jacobs top.

Taye Diggs Idina, So They Say I Do
Golden sand? Check! Sparkling sea? Of course. Tropical breeze? Right on cue: Taye Diggs's fairy-tale wedding was like a scene out of a movie. In fact, it was like a scene out of his breakout movie, How Stella Got Her Groove Back. On Jan. 11, Diggs, 32, wed actress-singer Idina Menzel, 31, at Montego Bay's Round Hill resort, the Jamaican getaway where he romanced Angela Bassett in 1998's Stella. Diggs, currently starring in Chicago, and Menzel met in 1995, when they began rehearsals for the musical Rent. The couple tied the knot before nearly 100 guests in a nighttime ceremony overlooking the ocean. Any and all missing grooves, one assumes, were immediately restored.

Anastacia Stays Brave

One could have forgiven her for panicking. After all, being diagnosed with breast cancer at 29 is tough. Yet pop singer Anastacia, who announced on Jan. 21 that a routine checkup had uncovered a malignant tumor, responded with optimism. "Please don't worry," the singer said in a statement. "I have no intention of letting this news get me down."

Despite the diagnosis, the MTV dancer turned pop hitmaker (Freak of Nature) continued rehearsals in New York City in preparation for her next video, "Love Is a Crime," from the Chicago soundtrack. "I'm a fighter by nature," added Anastacia, who at 13 found she had Crohn's disease, a painful gastrointestinal tract inflammation, "and nothing will ever change that."

A Diva's Grand Design
Arriving at the Jan. 14 premiere of A Guy Thing, Barbra Streisand, 60, glittered in a pink diamond necklace she created herself. "She does the designs at home and has a craftsman execute them," says her rep Dick Guttman. So is Babs in the bauble biz now? No, says Guttman. The creations aren't for sale. Besides, at her work pace, Streisand might have trouble meeting demand. "The necklace started as a pair of earrings," says Guttman, "and it took Barbra a year to gather the rest of the pink diamonds."

A Drew World Record
Drew Barrymore has long since tamed her wild child tendencies, but she can still fly by the seat of her pants with the best of them. Most recently at Las Vegas's Stratosphere Casino Hotel and Tower, where the 27-year-old actress and friends rode the 1,080-ft. Big Shot, billed as the world's highest thrill ride, a gut-wrenching 10 times. "She broke Joey [Fatone] from 'N Sync's record," says impressed hotel rep Mike Gilmartin. "In fact, that's the most anyone—celebrity or not—has ever ridden it [in a row]. What surprised me is that when she finally got off, she didn't seem dizzy or anything." Good thing Barrymore was not riding with a beau: Past Big Shot riders include Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, who broke up about seven months later, and Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, who announced their separation eight days later.

Roker: I'm Your Handyman
On the chilly morning of Jan. 17, Today weatherman Al Roker installed insulation in a new home for low-income families in a Brooklyn neighborhood as part of a Habitat for Humanity project to build 20 houses over the long Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. But as soon as the Today cameras stopped rolling, the insulation fell from the ceiling—much to the amusement of some 40 other volunteers on-site. Still Roker, 48, spent three days on the job and insisted that he's handy around the house. "I replaced the toilet in our country home last week. It only took a couple of hours," he boasts. Years ago he assembled a Barbie castle for his daughter Courtney, now 15. "It's got all these little parts," Roker recalls. But he knows his limitations: "If I've got an electrical problem, I'll call someone. See, electricity can kill me. I'll fix anything that can't kill me." Well, almost anything. "A big plumbing job, I won't do it," Roker says.

Phil Hartman: The Early Years
Before he hit it big on Saturday Night Live, Phil Hartman was an improv comic. His brother John, 62, hopes to preserve that legacy with Phil Hartman's Flat TV, a CD of the comedian's early routines. "It's pure Phil," says John. "I don't think he'd change a word of it today." The recording from the late '70s was misplaced and "Phil forgot about it," says John, who tracked it down after Hartman was shot and killed four years ago by his wife, Brynn, who then killed herself. (The couple's children Sean and Birgen now live with their aunt and are doing great, says John.) John says he's proud that his brother stayed loyal to his family despite Brynn's drug-abuse relapse: "Phil could have left, but he stayed and duked it out for the sake of his children."

Browne Battles
After 10 years of denying reports that his rocky romance with actress Daryl Hannah ended with abuse, singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, 54, is fighting the rap once again. Angered by TBS's recently aired biopic America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story, which alludes to Browne's having "lost it" with Hannah, the singer is demanding that TBS stop broadcasting the movie until "false and defamatory" scenes about him are removed. TBS issued a statement saying that it "stands by the accuracy of the movie." Hannah, 42, did not comment.

POP QUIZ

with Homer Simpson

The Fox network just renewed The Simpsons for another two years. That means that in May 2005, at the end of its 16th season, the show will become television's longest-running sitcom ever. Family patriarch Homer Simpson graciously—with a little help from his writers—consented to an interview with Scoop.

Why does your wife, Marge, let alone the public, stay with you all these years?
I'm like an old shoe. A fat, drunk old shoe.

Is her blue hair a turn-on?
Absolutely. If Jennifer Aniston was a blue-head, she could have done way better than Brad Pitt.

Any idea which is healthier: doughnuts or beer?
I don't know. But just to cover my bases, I dunk all my doughnuts in beer.

Is a salad ever necessary?
Only if you have gummy bears as a topping.

When should a husband relinquish control of the TV clicker to his wife or kids?
When they pry it from his cold, dead hand.

Would you allow your daughter Lisa to compete on The Bachelor?
Let's not forget Lisa is only eight years old. Ask me that question in two more years.

What shows do you watch?
The West Wing, 60 Minutes...Nah, I'm just yanking you. I watch Monkey Smackdown.

Is a high school diploma all that important?
Me not think so.

Ever think of doing yoga?
Every time I drop a nacho on the floor and I can't bend down to eat it.

Is there life in space?
If there are aliens, I wish they would come to our planet and show us a way to live in peace and harmony. Unless they look like bugs. Then we'd nuke 'em.

Did Ben Affleck really deserve to be PEOPLE'S Sexiest Man of the Year?
You obviously didn't take a good look at me. Okay, stop. I said look. Don't touch.

Survival of the fittest? Sitcom star Simpson will appear in his 300th episode Feb. 16.

ON THE BLOCK

SUE ELLEN'S SPREAD

Before Dallas, Linda Gray built her own personal Southfork. Now the actress is selling her Santa Clarita ranch outside L.A. for $2.9 million and is looking for a smaller home in Santa Monica. Gray, 62, recently remodeled the three-acre property, using feng shui design, organic materials and skylights to cut down electricity use, says listing agent Sonja Lindvall. A pool, spa, tennis court, horse facilities, koi pond and guesthouse with game room are included.

  • Contributors:
  • Ting Yu,
  • Jennifer Wren,
  • Lorenzo Benet,
  • Rachel Biermann,
  • Liza Hamm,
  • Michele Stueven,
  • Melody Wells,
  • Ulrica Wihlborg.