Insider

updated 01/14/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/14/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST

On Dec. 14 150 people who survived the WTC attacks or lost loved ones attended the final taping of the year of Friends, courtesy of Warner Bros, and NBC. The studio and network flew everyone out and put them up at a hotel for the three-day stay. The producers of Friends came up with the idea, which the cast approved, to pay for the trip by using money set aside to buy holiday gifts for the crew. But then Warner Bros, and NBC stepped in and split the $100,000-plus tab, and the crew got their gifts after all.

Tennis star Anna Kournikova spent most of last year sidelined with a stress fracture in her left foot, but it didn't seem to bother her on the set of Enrique Iglesias's latest video shoot in Los Angeles. The sexy Russian shimmied to his upcoming single "Escape" the weekend before Christmas and shared a couple of passionate love scenes with the Latin heartthrob. But when it came to small talk, her lips were sealed: People on the set were instructed not to make chitchat with the tennis ace. For two days' work, Kournikova made more than $100,000.

George Clooney has been busy in Montreal directing his first feature, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, in which he'll also star. In December he was seen at Globe, one of the city's hot spots, hanging out with the film's storyboard artist. When a female friend of the crew member joined the pair and said it was her birthday, the artist proceeded to draw her a birthday card on a napkin. Rising to the occasion, Clooney drew a person in a party hat holding a drink. He signed it, "Happy 31st Birthday, Goddamn it, Love, George."

When I spoke with Sting in L.A. before the holidays, he was eager to get home to spend Christmas with his family at their country estate in Wiltshire, England, after touring some 75 cities in the last year. Shopping for six children—ages 6 to 24—is no easy chore, but he leaves that to wife Trudie Styler. "She does the whole shebang," he says. "I just fund it. I normally say, 'Here's what I'll do: I'll take you on holiday.' " And he did, taking the whole brood on a private Caribbean cruise after Christmas.

Production on Black Hawk Down, the new war drama with Josh Hartnett and Ewan McGregor, began in Morocco earlier this year, even before the Pentagon had approved the multi-helicopter loan of the titular bird. During the delay the crew called the film Dude, Where's My Helicopter? When the Black Hawks finally arrived, the cast and crew were surprised to see that the nicknames for two of them were Armageddon and Gladiator. The film's director, Ridley Scott, also directed Gladiator, while producer Jerry Bruckheimer coproduced Armageddon.

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