Walk Away, Renée
KEEPING IT LOW-KEY, RENEE ZELLWEGER ENDS HER ROMANCE WITH THE WHITE STRIPES' JACK WHITE

The best-kept secret of 2004? Renée Zellweger split from musician Jack White, her boyfriend of more than a year and a half. It happened way back in September. "It was mutual," says a source close to the actress. "No scandal. No new relationships." And no official announcement, even while the press hinted at a breakup. Then again, the two liked to keep their relationship private, preferring media-free hangouts such as the Polish Village Cafe and Eph McNally's deli near White's Detroit hometown. The couple—who remain friendly—met while filming 2003's Cold Mountain (Zellweger, 35, won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role; White, 29, played a troubadour and worked on the soundtrack). Who is helping Zellweger hold up? Her family flew to L.A. to spend the holidays with her, and they attended an L.A. Lakers-Miami Heat game. Following promotions for her next film, Cinderella Man, "she'd like to take some time off," says Renee's rep.

ANGELINA VISITS BEIRUT
Toting CD and mp3 players as gifts, Angelina Jolie—with 3-year-old son Maddox—visited the youngsters at the Children's Cancer Center of Lebanon in Beirut on Christmas Day. Haytham Musharafiyeh, 18, a patient and aspiring journalist, got a special present: an exclusive interview with the star. "[She was] very tender with the kids," says Musharafiyeh, who has bone cancer. "She put me very much at ease. While I was doing the interview, I forgot I had cancer." Jolie returned the compliment, telling Musharafiyeh, "Young men like you are heroes of mine, and it gives me strength to be around people who are survivors." His report—in which Jolie told of dining with local families—made the cover of a top Lebanese paper.

DOCTORS CALLS: The stars check in

LIZA MINNELLI was kept under observation at a New York hospital after she fell out of bed and hit her head early on the morning of Dec. 27. "She was sleeping and she rolled out of bed," says a source. "She hit her head. Her bodyguard got nervous and called 911. He was afraid. He couldn't get her up." Minnelli, 58, was taken on a stretcher to the hospital around 3:30 a.m.

GEORGE CLOONEY ruptured a disc playing CIA operative Robert Baer on the set of Syriana in the fall. "He's in a lot of discomfort," his rep said. Things got worse after a rigid exercise regimen to shed the 30 lbs. he gained for the role. Around Christmas, Clooney, 43, underwent tests for the disc at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A.

GEORGE CARLIN
On Dec. 27, three weeks after ending a four-year run at Las Vegas's MGM Grand, comedian announced he is checking himself into a rehab center. "I use too much wine and Vicodin," Carlin, 67, said in a statement. "My use would have progressed, I would have been in deeper trouble, and I didn't want to tolerate that."

CELEB GIFT GETTING
Santa and friends did some hefty—and pricey—gift-giving in Hollywood this year. Among some of the presents received by the stars:

Naomi Campbell: an $11,000 pink Asprey alligator bag
Sarah Michelle Gellar: a Rafinity diamond-and-ruby necklace from hubby Freddie Prinze Jr.
Faith Hill and Tim McGraw: matching PJs (right)
Andy Roddick: Texas Hold 'Em poker set
Eva Longoria: coral-and crystal-encrusted tank tops

JAIL HOUSE UPDATE

DESIGNING WOMAN: MARTHA'S HOLIDAY BIRDS
If ever there was a sure bet at West Virginia's Alderson Federal Prison, it had to be that Martha Stewart's team would win the holiday decoration contest. But despite their efforts at creating paper cranes that hung from the ceiling, Stewart and her inmate group's project lost. The winning entry? A nativity scene built by inmates assigned to the institution's firefighting unit. Stewart's paper bird display "wasn't all that great," said one inmate, who told a friend that the firefighters' display was "small and homey" and featured "pictures of snow-covered hills and sleds and clouds on the wall." Inmates had been asked to build around a "Peace on Earth" theme using $25 worth of glitter, ribbons, construction paper and glue. Meanwhile, on her Web site (www.marthatalks.com), Stewart asked her fans to support prison and sentencing reforms. She also pondered the end of her incarceration in March. "I look forward to being home," she wrote, "to getting back to my valuable work, to creating, cooking and making television."

PRISON LIGHT: DIANA'S LIFE BEHIND BARS
Among the courtesies extended to Diana Ross while serving a two-day jail sentence in Greenwich, Conn.: She chatted on her cell phone and dialed out for lunch. And when the police chief couldn't find a female officer to watch her overnight, he sent her home for the evening. This upset the town's police union, which recently issued a report criticizing the chief, who then admitted he had "made some poor decisions." Ross, 60, pleaded no contest last February to a drunk-driving charge.

Tests for Matt's Baby
The 11-month-old daughter of Matt LeBlanc and his wife, Melissa, is undergoing tests to determine why she has been suffering seizures. "No one really knows what they are dealing with here," says a source. "For now, it's just tests, tests and more tests." LeBlanc, 37, and Melissa, 39, realized something was wrong last fall after they noticed Marina falling more than usual as she tried to walk. Although she is not currently hospitalized, surgery could be an option later. Baby Marina has visited her father on the Joey set often, according to show insiders, who say he dotes on the child and has been a very hands-on dad, down to changing diapers in his dressing room.

FAMILY FIRST: BILLY & MARY-LOUISE
After a bad breakup two months before their son was born, Mary-Louise Parker and Billy Crudup are now working together to raise 1-year-old William. The couple remain estranged but have put a hold on their differences—and kept custody issues out of court. It's "for the sake of the baby," says her rep. So much so that Parker planned to bring William to Texas to visit with Crudup and his father. "It was a gesture of solidarity on her part," says a Crudup friend. "They are figuring out a way to coexist."

POP QUIZ

Ashlee Simpson
It's been a good news/bad news kind of year for Ashlee Simpson . On the one hand, her debut album, Autobiography, sold more than 3 million copies. On the other, Jessica's little sis was caught lip-syncing during an October Saturday Night Live appearance. Scoop spoke with Ashlee, 20, at an AOL Music LIVE! concert in L.A.

What was the high point of the year for you?

My album. And playing shows and having fans sing the songs I sat and wrote. I never thought my CD would ever do as well as it has done. I was doing it for fun.

The low point? Was it the Saturday Night Live fiasco?

Definitely. But the best part of it was overcoming it. Just saying, you know, that's life. Everybody has their ups, everybody has their downs.

You blamed your SNL vocal problems on an acid-reflux attack. Have you changed anything since then to avoid a repeat?

Yes. I can't eat after 9 o'clock at night. I can't eat dairy. I have to prop my head up when I sleep at night and take [medication] in the morning and at night. And before I do shows now, I don't speak for an hour.

What about the reports that your sister Jessica is having problems with her husband, Nick Lachey?

It's all bull. It's insane, and I feel really bad for them that people are trying to find [problems] and pick and nag at them when they really just love each other so much. They support each other. Even when she's away shooting her movie, they're on the phone all the time.

Is there any sibling rivalry between you and Jessica?

The thing I learned from my family and my sister is that you have to look to them for support. At the end of the day, they're the ones that will have your back. People don't realize that having an older sister is so much fun.

New Year's Eve plans?

I will be with a special person on New Year's.

Is he an actor? A musician? Just give us a clue.

He's a wonderful guy!

Any New Year's advice?

Enjoy your family and friends. Enjoy your life. Try to keep your New Year's resolutions.

ON THE BLOCK

CATE'S CORNER
PRICE: $10 million
PLACE: Sydney

Actress Cate Blanchett has bought a home Down Under, reports the Australian press. Blanchett, currently starring in The Aviator, purchased Bulwarra, an 1877 sandstone house in Sydney's historic Hunters Hill suburb. The two-story residence, near a protected waterfront reserve, features six bedrooms, a tennis court and a heated pool.

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