updated 03/06/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/06/2000 AT 01:00 AM EST

Tapping into her inner Martha Stewart for Valentine's Day, Brooke Shields made boyfriend Chris Henchy a heart-shaped stool for his office. "It's beautiful. It's unbelievable," says Henchy, a comedy writer whose sitcom Battery Park premieres March 23 on NBC. The stool is decorated with the show's script covers and pictures of the cast. For handcrafting such a corny gift, says Shields, "I was called the biggest dork of the century, but not by him. It's the thought that counts. I'm a baby Martha. It took me forever to make. I think it's therapy."

Sharon Stone came prepared for an emotional evening Feb. 19 when she was honored in L.A. with the Human Rights Campaign's Humanitarian Award, in part for her work in the fight against AIDS. Stone, accompanied by her husband, Phil Bronstein, and members of her family, was overcome when talking about the honor. As tears welled in her eyes, she dug into Bronstein's tuxedo pocket and pulled out a wad of...toilet paper. "You want to bring the toilet paper when you think you're going to cry," Stone said unabashedly. "It's my fashion statement of the night."

The joke was on John Lithgow at a recent benefit for the Tourette Syndrome Association at the Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel. As one of the guests of honor, Lithgow turned up in a perfectly pressed black tuxedo and bow tie. Unfortunately, the dress code called for business attire. When Lithgow found out he was the only one in a-penguin suit, he managed to joke his way out of the sartorial situation. "It seems the rest of you were misinformed about the dress code tonight," he announced to the audience as he made his TSA 2000 award acceptance speech.

Everybody's got a story, but it helps if you also have a well-connected chiropractor. If so, maybe Julia Roberts will play you in a movie. That's what happened to Erin Brockovich: A film based on her life opens March 17, with Roberts in the title role. Brockovich had the good fortune of having the same chiropractor as Carla Santos Shamberg, whose husband, Michael, is a partner in Danny DeVito's production company. Santos Shamberg first heard about the L.A.-area woman while getting her spine adjusted. Brockovich, an assistant in a law firm, spearheaded a case involving a California town's contaminated water and helped the plaintiffs win a $333 million settlement. Talk about someone with backbone.

Fast Takes: What's up with R&B balladeer Luther Vandross and his red hair? "I wanted to pull a prank on three high school buddies I was meeting at the airport in Hawaii and thought, 'What should I do?' " explained Vandross, who checked out a hair chart to match his new color to his skin.... Touched by an Angel star Roma Downey will be the grand marshal of the Washington, D.C., St. Patrick's Day parade, to be held on March 12. "I wish my parents were alive," she says, adding, "That's the kind of thing my father would have loved, his immigrant daughter leading the parade. It's heady stuff for us Irish."

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