SUDDENLY SPLIT

After four years of marriage, Christina Applegate and Johnathon Schaech find themselves on the verge of divorce...without children

In early 2003 Christina Applegate and husband Johnathon Schaech traveled to New Zealand for a romantic getaway. The highlight? Taking a 630-ft. leap off Auckland's Sky Tower. "It was fantastic," Applegate said. The following year they took a belated honeymoon—three years after their Oct. 20, 2001, Palm Springs nuptials—in Bora Bora. "The best thing was jumping off the balcony of our room into the water," the former Married... with Children star told PEOPLE. Early this month the couple took another plunge—alas, far less fun: Schaech, 36, best known for his '96 role in That Thing You Do! filed for divorce from Applegate, 34, on Dec. 5 in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences. "After four years of marriage, actors Johnathon Schaech and Christina Applegate have filed for divorce. The decision is mutual," their reps said in a joint statement. "We have no further comment."

Schaech hired high-profile divorce lawyer Laura Wasser, whose clients have included Angelina Jolie and Denise Richards. Only last March Applegate and Schaech starred together in the TV movie James Patterson's Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas—even though Applegate once told PEOPLE, "I think it's better to keep [our work] separate; [married actors] get into trouble when they start doing that too much." For most of the past year, Applegate has been on the road and in New York City performing in the musical Sweet Charity; Schaech has remained based in L.A.

VINCE AND JEN: FULL STEAM AHEAD

Their movie (The Break-Up) wrapped months ago, but Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn's fine romance keeps moving from location to location. The duo avoided each other at the GQ Men of the Year Awards in Beverly Hills Dec. 1, making separate entrances, but were far cozier afterward at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The pair chatted with friends on the Polo Lounge patio and nuzzled and kissed while sharing cigarettes and cocktails. "They both had big grins on their faces. [They're] like two high schoolers with big crushes on each other," said one observer. That followed a Thanksgiving retreat at a ritzy resort just outside Scottsdale, Ariz., where the two ventured out to hear a country band and down dirty martinis at the tiny Rusty Spur Saloon.

Along the way, there have been minor bumps. The couple were pulled over by Scottsdale police but were soon released after Vaughn passed a field sobriety test on Nov. 29. And on Dec. 2 the actress sued a photographer for invasion of privacy for allegedly taking pictures of her sunbathing topless outside her Hollywood Hills home.

So just what's going on here? "I wouldn't necessarily pick him for the long term," says Jane Seymour, who costarred with Vaughn in Wedding Crashers, "but I would definitely go with him to a party."

Tributes for Tina

President Bush noted that Tina Turner, 66, has "the most famous legs in show business" before the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 4. (The show airs on CBS Dec. 27.) Why else does America love her? Scoop asked.

"She's just so regal and powerful. She's a force."—Mary Louise Parker

"She's an example of how to be a survivor and prosper."—Queen Latifah

"She's 100 percent pure rock and roll. "—Kid Rock

"The bottom line—she's just so damned cool."—Oprah Winfrey (with Turner in DC, right)

An Almost Royal Wedding
It was good enough for Prince Charles and Camilla, and it will be good enough for Sir Elton John and longtime partner David Furnish: On Dec. 21 the pair will get hitched at the Guildhall (below) near Windsor Castle—the same venue where the royal couple exchanged vows. The same registrar will officiate. Though the reception won't be a public affair (they turned down a $10 million offer for video footage), John and Furnish, who met in 1993, won't swear their 650 guests to secrecy. "All anyone has been asked to do is come along and have a great time," says their rep, Gary Farrow. Given that the singer is a sir, will there be a title for Furnish after the ceremony? Says Farrow: "He will remain a mister."

Mary-Kate's Cover
Finally, an explanation for Mary-Kate Olsen's ever-present Starbucks cup: "When I was younger, on weekends, my mom would make us pancakes with our initials on them and then a tiny cup of coffee," the actress tells W magazine in their January issue. By the time she was 10, "I was sneaking my own and pouring a ton of sugar in and going up to the playroom and drinking it." Olsen also talks to the style mag about, of course, style. "I love getting amazing jackets," she says, "because you can wear your pajamas underneath and everyone's like, 'Oh, fabulous jacket.'" She also reveals more serious fare, from her decision to leave NYU ("papers don't really make me happy") to her split from Paris Hilton's current beau, Stavros Niarchos ("I miss him and I love him and I don't speak to him anymore"), to her plans for the future. "I realized, okay, I just need to take care of myself right now," Olsen says. "I need to be able to go to yoga, work out, read scripts and go on auditions because that's what makes me happy."

Kim Fires Back at Alec's Court Claims
The bitter battle between Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger over their daughter Ireland goes on... and on. After Baldwin, 47, filed court papers Nov. 14 seeking coparenting counseling for Basinger and a new therapist for the girl—claiming that without these measures Basinger "will succeed in completely destroying my relationship with my daughter"—Basinger responded with a 69-page court document opposing the requests. "[Baldwin] only considers his own life and has no respect for my time and work commitments or his disruptions to Ireland's life," the document says. Basinger, 52, also says that she and Ireland, 10, have been hounded by media and that Ireland's classmates know about the court battle. The ex-couple have been fighting over Ireland since their 2001 divorce. Their next court hearing is Dec. 13. "We don't agree with Kim's latest assertions but are looking forward to resolving this in court," says Baldwin's attorney Vicki Greene.

NICOLE GOES SOLO
Though Nicole Richie is set for another season of The Simple Life with Paris Hilton to air next spring on E!, her hopes of stepping out on her own are closer to reality. Richie, 24, recently signed a deal with 20th Century Fox TV to appear in a sitcom. "She's got great charisma and a built-in personality, and it makes sense to build around that," Fox TV president Dana Walden tells Scoop. "She's funny. Nicole is funny." Exactly how and when that will translate into a comedy series remains uncertain, though the studio will start sending her scripts to consider in time for next year's pilot season.

At Long Last, Divorce
It's official: The long marriage of Eddie Van Halen, 50, and Valerie Bertinelli, 45, is coming to an end. The actress filed for divorce Dec. 6 in L.A., more than four years after the couple separated following 20 years of often tumultuous matrimony. The pair, who have a 14-year-old son, Wolfie, were instantly smitten after meeting at a 1980 Van Halen concert and endured many trials, including the rocker's partying lifestyle and battles with alcoholism and cancer. "We love each other," Van Halen told PEOPLE when they broke up. And now? Bertinelli's rep calls the split "amicable."

POP QUIZ

The Breakthrough's

Mary J. Blige

Mary J. Blige's new CD, set for release Dec. 20, comes with a new theme: hopefulness. Titled The Breakthrough, it's about the ability to get past the down moments in life and celebrate the uplifting ones. Blige, 34, chatted with Scoop about her own ups and downs, and her plans for the future. (For a review of the album, see page 49.)

What will fans learn about you in the new CD?
They'll find out that I'm content with Mary for the very first time. I love her, I like her, and I accept everything I cannot change and I accept the things that I can change about her. So they're actually getting a hopeful album from Mary J. Blige.

What's up next?
To really take on the entrepreneurial side. My goal is to follow in the footsteps of powerful women in business and make a mark, and not just be a fly-by-night. If I do a movie, I want to get an Oscar for that movie.

Any roles in mind?
I'm just trying to make sure that I don't get the stereotypical role as the drug dealer's girlfriend or the drug dealer's mom.

Any acting role models?
Angela Bassett. I love her. Terrence [Howard] is another person I admire. And if I could, I'd get some coaching from Denzel [Washington], because he is the best.

You look amazing. What is your workout regimen?
I began training last October, and I have a trainer. I did a lot of cardio because I had to burn off the fat first. I did a lot of weights and calisthenics, and I was dieting really hard. I worked out every day except the weekends.

Any preconceived notions about yourself you'd like to clear up for your fans?
I guess the fact that they think that I'm kind of a monster. Until they meet me, and then they realize that I'm nice and warm.

Is there anything you can't live without?
First, I truly can't be without God. Second, I can't be without boots. Past the knee, under the knee, if they are the hottest thing I've ever seen, I have to have them.

ON THE BLOCK

SLATER'S SPACE
PRICE: $5,375 million
PLACE: Los Angeles, Calif.
Christian Slater is heading home for the holidays. The actor recently closed on his 6,500-sq.-ft. Brentwood house and plans to return to New York City, his hometown. The five-bedroom estate, purchased in 2002, features a library, pool, spa and studio with a balcony, according to Coldwell Banker-Brentwood East's Jamie Parsons.

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