The Insider

UPDATED 12/15/1997 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 12/15/1997 at 01:00 AM EST

Kevin Costner's job as director, coproducer and star of The Postman included trying to persuade the Motion Picture Association of America to change the R rating it had given his futuristic adventure, opening Christmas Day, to a more commercially viable PG-13. Costner pleaded his case before 14 members of the MPAA's appeals board on Nov. 26—and was voted down, 14-0. A representative for Costner says the star subsequently returned to the editing room, shortening a love scene and trimming some violent imagery in the hope that the MPAA would reconsider. But even after The Postman rang twice, the answer was still no. The R rating, according to an MPAA spokesperson, will stand....

Happily putting his independent days behind him, Will Smith recently announced that he and his longtime live-in girlfriend, actress Jada Pinkett, will marry before the end of the the year. Well, I'm now hearing that the couple, who are expecting their first child next summer, will cut that very close: Sources say they will marry on New Year's Eve in Baltimore, Pinkett's hometown....

Out of perceived controversy, commerce: Playing off the notion that they are rivals, R&B artists Brandy, 18, and Monica, 17, have recorded a duet called "The Boy Is Mine" for Brandy's next album. The song is about two girls who compete for the affection of the same boy....

I'm almost certain that the pleasantly warped magicians Penn & Teller aren't dead. So why do they have a bronze marker at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills? "So we can appreciate how much people miss us before we're actually gone," jokes Teller (who goes by one name and, onstage, never speaks). Actually, the stone's inscription—an engraving of a three of clubs and the words "Is this your card?"—hints at its real purpose. As detailed in their book How to Play in Traffic, it's the elaborate, and very final, punch line to a card trick....

And, suddenly, the funk was upon him. Shedding corporate reserve, Microsoft multigazillionaire Bill Gates stepped onto the floor and danced with the masses at a party during a recent computer trade show in Las Vegas. He shimmied, shook. And he kept his PG rating. "He bumped,' says a witness, "but he wouldn't quite grind."

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