A scene in America's Sweethearts calls for John Cusack's character to navigate a patch of cactus plants so he can peek over a wall and catch a glimpse of his estranged wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). What he gets instead is a crotch full of needles. Billy Crystal, who costars as the actors' publicist and also cowrote the script, based the scene on a similar experience he had at a press junket for 1987's Throw Momma from the Train. Tired from shooting another movie the previous night followed by a long day of interviews, a bleary-eyed Crystal walked straight into a bunch of the prickly things in an L.A. hotel lobby. He says he has been picking the spines out ever since.
A recent performance of The Full Monty, the Broadway show (based on the 1997 British film) about unemployed male blue-collar workers who become strippers, really lived up to its name. One of our spies was sitting in the sixth row orchestra when a woman next to him pulled out a small flashlight. Asked what she was doing, the woman replied, "You'll see." At the musical's finale the men bare all just after the stage goes dark. At that moment, the woman flashed her light and the cast inadvertently flashed the audience. According to our source, the players seemed incensed when they returned for the curtain call (although a rep for the show says they were amused). In any case, the house manager confronted the woman and lectured her about the safety hazard of such an unexpected illumination.
Although The Princess Diaries is the first feature film from Whitney Houston's production company, BrownHouse Productions, the singer visited the film set only once, as a 66th-birthday surprise for director Garry Marshall. (She and Princess star Julie Andrews teamed up for a "Happy Birthday" duet.) Houston missed the movie's L.A. premiere on July 29, canceling just hours before when she ran into plane problems in New York City, leaving husband Bobby Brown to escort their 8-year-old daughter Bobbi Kristina.
Fast takes: Christian diva Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey of 98° broke up last April, but they still share the same address. In June each bought an $800,000-plus condo in the same L.A. high-rise called the Grand....
In their 3½-year relationship, Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche must have shared a love of Sade. Both came to the soulful singer's Hollywood Bowl concert on July 23. DeGeneres sat a few rows in front of Heche, who was with her fiancé, Coleman Laffoon.