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Jen & Ben: Why They Click
LOW-KEY IS THE KEY TO THEIR RELATIONSHIP—DOWN TO THE RING ON HER FINGER

When Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner hit the town, there's no telling what local hot spot they'll visit first: the grocery store, Starbucks, Blockbuster. Sometimes, as on April 23, they'll even pile into Affleck's pickup truck and drive two miles from Garner's Brentwood home to his nearby pad. His relationship with Garner may lack the bada-bling that characterized his ill-fated romance with Jennifer Lopez, but that's just the way the newly engaged Affleck, 32, and Garner, 33, like it. "He's very happy," says an Affleck friend. "Jennifer is very down-to-earth, much more like him. They're more like-minded. That wasn't true [with Lopez]." Meaning less is more. On Valentine's Day, for example, Garner gave a gift money can't buy—serenading Affleck with two love songs. She now wears a simple ring—though no one is saying if it is an engagement ring. But don't expect any wedding plans to be revealed. "This is going to be a very secret wedding," says a friend of the couple's. "They [don't] want to create another whole frenzy."

LOVE CHRONICLES
Affleck and Garner first met while filming 2003's Daredevil, and began dating last summer. Nine months later he proposed, much to the delight of Garner—and her parents. "They had their fingers crossed," says a Garner friend. "They really love Ben." As does Jen.

Rehab: Mom's Orders
According to a source close to troubled diva Whitney Houston, it was her mom, gospel singer Cissy Houston, who petitioned a Georgia court to order her famous daughter to seek help in a rehab facility last March. Whitney Houston eventually entered the Crossroads treatment center (founded by Eric Clapton) in Antigua, West Indies, leaving in late April (inset) after almost a month. She rejoined the family in an undisclosed Caribbean spot, says the insider. Her rep confirms that Houston is "entering the second phase of her treatment." Cissy's rep had no comment. Meanwhile, plans for a reality show featuring Houston's husband, Bobby Brown, moved forward with the announcement that eight 30-minute episodes Being Bobby Brown will air on Bravo starting June 30. The cable network promises that "the series will demystify Brown's relationships with Houston" and their daughter Bobbi Kristina, among other things.

BUDDING FRIENDSHIP
Tara Reid and Jesse Metcalfe, Desperate Housewives' hunky gardener, were holding hands at L.A. hot spot Prey April 21. They met again April 23 at Silver Spoon's Dog & Baby Buffet, a merchandising fair and fund-raiser for animal-rescue efforts, two days later. Item? "We're just friends," Reid, 29, told PEOPLE, although she admits Metcalfe, 26, "is cute. He has great eyes."

CONTROVERSIAL QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"I think America has done reprehensible things and is responsible in some way..."
—MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL, on the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Her film The Great New Wonderful deals with life after the disaster.

CARNIE'S BABY BOOM
For the past nine months, life for Carnie Wilson has been a flashback to her pre-gastric bypass days: Lots of chocolate and lots of curves. But this time around it was a good thing: Daughter Lola Sophia—Wilson's first child with her husband, Rob Bonfiglio—was born on April 22, weighing in at 7 lbs., 2 oz. The proud new parents couldn't be happier. "She's really calm and sweet," Wilson, 37, says about her blue-eyed, brown-haired newborn. "She's an incredible baby." The singer vowed to work with a trainer four times a week after the birth. For now, "I'm feeling great," she says. "Everything was perfect."

George's Good Neighbor Policy
Beset by rumors he planned to buy up a local beach that borders his property in Laglio, Italy, George Clooney penned a letter to the locals. "I...would never try to take the beach away," he wrote, adding that he has been trying to fix up the rocky strip. "Let me earn your respect and your citizenship."

Committed Kobe
Kobe Bryant shelled out $50,000 to surprise his wife, Vanessa, with a recommitment ceremony April 21 in Laguna Beach, Calif. The pair dined privately on chicken and asparagus in a beachfront tent decorated to resemble the L.A. restaurant Dolce. In 2003, the L.A. Lakers star admitted that he had cheated on his wife.

Welcome to Malibu
Looks like Matthew Perry likes to keep his Friends close to home. The 35-year-old actor put his 7,000-sq.-ft. Beverly Hills bachelor pad on the market and uprooted to Malibu, where former costar Courteney Cox Arquette lives—and where Jennifer Aniston has reportedly been shopping for a beach house. Perry moved into a 2.3-acre estate in an exclusive Malibu Canyon community April 23. His new four-bedroom home features a Zen garden, a 600-gallon tropical fish tank, a spa tub, an infinity pool and wraparound decks that look out onto the ocean.

Designer Dog
Among the latest Hollywood indulgences: a canine with its own wardrobe mistress. Costume designer Nicole Gorsuch counts Tori Spelling's pug Mimi LaRue as her latest client. "She gets a little snappy when you keep changing her outfit," says Gorsuch, who outfitted the dog for NoTORIous, a pilot Spelling shot for NBC. Still, "Mimi likes pink. She's kind of a girly dog. She had five or six changes." If the show takes off, Gorsuch has elaborate plans to design a line—aptly titled MLR—for the precious pooch. "The clothes you get tend to be really cutesy," she says. "It would be fun to do some stuff that's just hipper."

Pink Pooch
Animal lovers take note: Kelly Osbourne may have dyed her 14-week-old English Bulldog puppy Piglet pink, but she insists that food coloring—"the same stuff used in cakes and cooking"—did the trick. "Piglet," she wrote on her Web site, "is happy and safe!"

POP QUIZ

Ryan Seacrest
American Idol's Ryan Seacrest recently received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—not for being the host of everybody's favorite talent competition but for his radio career, including his morning gig on KIIS-FM in Los Angeles, which he's been doing since last year. Scoop checked in with Seacrest, 30.

Have you always been a pop-music fan?
Yes, I used to get teased for loving only pop music when I was younger.

Any particular song?
It's funny; I owned a Paula Abdul cassette. She was big in 1990. She had several No.1's from the Forever Your Girl album.

Ever sing in the shower?
I sing in the shower all the time. I'm a big rapper. I've been singing the new Massacre album quite a bit.

How is your rapping?
Not great. That's why on American Idol you only hear me talking.

And the gossip on your personal life?
I've had an off-and-on-again relationship for the last few months.

Where is it today?
I don't know that I really know the answer.

You're being secretive.
I fell in love for the first time, and I'm learning a lot about relationships at 30.

What is the worst part about dating you?
I talk about it on the radio.

Any annoying habits?
Sometimes I can be the girl in the relationship. I don't wake up on Saturday and go play basketball. I'd rather sit in a steam room and get a massage.

Do you pick up at home?
I do. I can't have a roommate because I'd like to set something down on the counter and have it be exactly where it was when I come home. I'm slightly compulsive.

Your guess for the final three on Idol?
Based on the buzz with the judges and the audience, it feels like two of the three will be Bo and Carrie.

Okay, you have one kiss left in your life, who do you give it to: Simon or Paula?
I'd give it to Paula.

How do you think Simon would respond?
"How could you not love me? Everybody does."

ON THE BLOCK

BRINKLEY'S BEACH HOUSE
PRICE: $13 million
PLACE: Long Island, N.Y.

Christie Brinkley and her husband, architect Peter Cook, are selling a Greek Revival style waterfront home they purchased in 2004—but never moved into, reportedly because they failed to obtain permission to build a dock. The estate, built circa 1830 in North Haven, features 4.4 acres, six bedrooms, a pool and a private beach.

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