Insider

UPDATED 04/15/2002 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 04/15/2002 at 01:00 AM EDT

Most kids bring their pet frog or favorite doll for show-and-tell. But Olivia, the 7-year-old niece of cameraman Danny Moder, Julia Roberts's boyfriend, got high marks for her recent presentation. She brought in the world's biggest female movie star. Roberts paid a surprise visit to the youngster's second-grade class at Seven Arrows Elementary School in Pacific Palisades, Calif., where she gave a short talk and answered questions. Truth be told, the pupils didn't seem all that excited—Sponge-Bob SquarePants would have gone over a lot better—but the teachers sure were thrilled.

Matthew Perry crosses networks when he appears April 15 on back-to-back episodes of FOX's Ally McBeal as a slick lawyer who wreaks havoc on Cal-ista Flockhart's personal and professional life. David E. Kelley wrote the role for him shortly after the Friends star met Ally co-executive producer Pam Wisne at a party and told her how much he loved the series. "Well, we'd love to have you on Ally," Wisne replied. Perry shot the shows in March when Friends was on hiatus, just after word broke of the $1 million-per-episode deal that Perry and his five costars cut with NBC. "We teased him all week about it," says Wisne.

Journalists interviewing Panic Room's Jodie Foster in Paris got an unexpected bonus recently. When Russell Crowe, in Paris to promote A Beautiful Mind, found out his friend was doing interviews at the Hotel Ritz, he made a visit to her suite, surprising the actress and several members of the press. Not long after he left, a huge bouquet of white roses arrived from Crowe, who also invited her to dinner. (Foster and the Hollywood hooligan became mates two years ago when she cast him in her now-delayed film project, the drama Flora Plum.) Despite all the fuss, the actress was too busy to take him up on his offer. Foster, who is fluent in French, also looped her own dialogue for the movie while she was in town.

Although millions were spent restoring and marketing the rerelease of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial on March 22, director Steven Spielberg and Universal Pictures aren't obligated to pay the child stars a cent—not that they are complaining. Spielberg's office tells me Drew Barry-more, Henry Thomas and Robert Macnaughton will be getting bonuses. The trio, who were paid scale in 1981 (an estimated $15,000 each), have also received roughly $50,000 over the years in residuals from video rentals and TV airings. On a personal note, Spielberg has sent the three actors huge gift baskets full of electronic goodies, including a portable DVD player and Palm Pilot, with a card that reads, "I can't believe it's been 20 years. Thanks so much for all you have done to make the rerelease so special. Happy anniversary. Love, Steven."

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