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An Argument, a 911 Call, a Hospital Visit ...

A FAMILY AT ODDS—AGAIN

When Alec Baldwin failed to answer a call from his daughter Ireland, 14, following an intense phone argument they had in the early hours of Feb. 11, she grew concerned. In the heat of the moment, he had reportedly threatened to swallow pills, and, taking no chances, she called 911. "Ireland got scared; it was a misunderstanding," her uncle Don "Skip" Basinger tells Scoop. Baldwin, who reported to the set of 30 Rock later that day after a brief hospital visit, "was asleep" when Ireland called him, says his friend Alexander Peters.

Still, sources close to the actor, 51, say he and Ireland are experiencing growing pains, which are complicated by living on separate coasts (Ireland lives with mom Kim Basinger, 56, in Los Angeles, although Baldwin visits regularly). "Alec would like to see Ireland a lot more," a source tells Scoop. "He wants to be a big part of Ireland's life, and I think when she's older, he will be. But she's at an age where she's independent from her parents and wants to spend time with her friends. And she doesn't have friends in New York." Despite the well-documented vitriol between Baldwin and his ex-wife since their split in late 2000, the actress's brother denies that the incident involved his sister: "No one was trying to embarrass anybody."

JOHN MAYER UNDER FIRE

HE SAID WHAT!?

John Mayer, 32, is courting controversy yet again—this time for sexually and racially charged comments he made in Playboy's March issue. He compared ex-girlfriend Jessica Simpson to "sexual napalm" and made jaws drop again when he used the N-word in discussing his level of acceptance in the hip-hop community. He managed to make things even worse with a risqué rant about his manhood and African-American women he finds attractive, including actresses Holly Robinson Peete, Kerry Washington and Karyn Parsons. On Feb. 10 he tweeted an apology ("I should have never said the [N] word, and I will never say it again") and broke down at his concert in Nashville that night while addressing the interview.

People EXCLUSIVE

Nicole & Joel

ENGAGED!

Nicole Richie and Joel Madden managed to keep their engagement on the DL for a while, but once the couple, who have been dating since 2006, spilled the beans—he on Twitter and she while taping Feb. 19's Late Show with David Letterman—details began pouring in. Celeb jeweler Neil Lane tells PEOPLE that "Nicole wanted to be intimately involved in the design" of the 4-carat stunner (inset). "Joel wanted her to have her dream ring." Her dad, Lionel Richie, says the wedding will be his dream come true: "I cannot wait to give away the bride!"

Dennis Hopper

FILES A RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST WIFE

Dennis Hopper, 73, who is battling advanced prostate cancer, was granted an emergency restraining order Feb. 11 against his estranged wife, Victoria Duffy, 42, claiming she "deliberately ... intended to cause me severe emotional distress." According to the temporary order, Duffy, who lives with the couple's daughter Galen, 6, at Hopper's Venice, Calif., compound, cannot go within 10 ft. of the actor or his children Henry, 19, and Marin, 47. For her part Duffy, who claims she hasn't seen Hopper since Jan. 19, tells Scoop, "I have no desire to see or speak to anyone named in the order."

People.com

POLL

Should Howard Stern Replace Simon on Idol?

On his Feb. 8 Sirius XM radio show, Stern addressed reports that he's in talks with American Idol to replace Cowell as one of the show's judges. "For $100 million a year to judge a karaoke contest? Okay. Why not?" he quipped.

66% NO, HE SHOULD STICK TO RADIO

34% YES, HE'D MAKE A GREAT JUDGE!

Charlize Theron

MOVING ON

Since her reported split in January from partner of nine years Stuart Townsend, 37, Charlize Theron, 34, hasn't looked back. She's hit the gym, lunched with pals—and spent a night on the town with old friend Jeremy Renner, 39 (of The Hurt Locker). The former North Country costars met up to hear music at the Foundry on Melrose Feb. 10. "They were very friendly," an eyewitness tells Scoop. "Charlize didn't seem heartbroken; she was enjoying Jeremy's company."

WISTERIA LANE'S MODEL MAKEOVER

Desperate Housewives is about to get a lot more fashionable: Project Runway host Heidi Klum, 36, and Top Model judge Paulina Porizkova, 44, will guest star in an episode slated for March, during which Eva Longoria Parker's character, a model, runs into the glamazons in New York City. No word yet on who throws the first heel.

PARTY OF THE WEEK!

GLOURIOUS GET-TOGETHER

Quentin Tarantino and his flick Inglourious Basterds were the guests of honor at a celeb-studded bash Feb. 9 at Hollywood's La Vida restaurant. Anne Hathaway, Neve Campbell and other Tarantino fans—including Basterds stars B.J. Novak and Eli Roth—hit the Audi-hosted event. Daryl Hannah congratulated her Kill Bill director with a huge hug. Selma Blair and Rosario Dawson mingled on the patio, and Ryan Gosling made a late but memorable entrance busting a move with Tarantino on the dance floor.

CAUGHT IN THE ACT

• 2/13, N.Y.C.: Gossip Girl costars Chace Crawford and Kelly Rutherford greeted each other with jokes at the QVC fashion show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

• 2/13, N.Y.C.: Fabolous treated Ugly Betty's Ana Ortiz to a melody of hits at the Elle and joonbug farewell to the show at Capitale.

• 2/14, N.Y.C.: Josh Lucas rocked to a performance by Guns N' Roses at the Gramercy Park Hotel's Rose Bar Sessions presented by DeLeón Tequila.

• 2/13, Las Vegas: Spencer Pratt and wife Heidi Montag (below, in a dress she designed) hosted PURE nightclub's Valentine's Day bash.

  • Contributors:
  • CONTRIBUTORS Jennifer Garcia,
  • Jessica Herndon,
  • Lisa Ingrassia,
  • Oliver Jones,
  • Lesley Messer,
  • with Joey Bartolomeo,
  • Mark Gray,
  • Lizz Leonard,
  • Simon Perry,
  • Ellen Tumposky.