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updated 09/09/2002 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/09/2002 01:00AM

Now Pitching: Kidman

Nicole joins a long list of celebrities touting the joys of Spanish dry goods

Focus
Why in the world—a very big place with many, many countries—would Nicole Kidman choose Spain to have her image grace billboards, newspapers and television sets in a series of advertisements for a major department store? Could the fact that Penélope Cruz, 28, current flame of Kidman's ex-husband Tom Cruise, 40, calls Spain home have anything to do with her decision?

No, no, a thousand times no, says a rep for Kidman, 35. The spots, for El Corte Inglés, were created by Alejandro Amenabár, who directed her in The Others. Kidman accepted the job partially because of her friendship with him. (The amount of money she received wasn't disclosed.) Besides, the ads are considered a prestige gig for most movie stars. Gwyneth Paltrow, Sharon Stone, George Clooney and Sylvester Stallone have all been the face of El Corte Inglés in the past. One big celeb known to have said no? Julia Roberts.

It's in the Bag: The Rich Get Richer
If the test of a party's caliber is the net worth of its goody bag, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs's post-MTV Video Music Awards soiree might just live up to its modest billing as "The Greatest Party of All Time." Hundreds of people have been invited to the Aug. 29 bash at Manhattan's Cipriani's East 42nd nightclub, but only 25 V.I.P. guests—including Britney Spears, Mike Myers, Enrique Iglesias and Mary J. Blige—will score the extravagant gift basket, which features at least $10,000 worth of loot. Apart from the usual high-end cosmetics, watches and clothes (all donated by the manufacturers), the swag includes snowboards ($425), diamond bracelets ($2,000) and certificates for a week of surfing camp in North Carolina ($500) and a session of Rudraksha Therapy, an ancient Indian stress-reduction massage ($500). The best part? The stars don't have to lug the stuff home that night. "We make sure they get it the next day," says a Combs spokesman.

The Final Frontier: Ohio's Statehouse

Ohio gubernatorial candidate Tim Hagan's Aug. 24 fund-raiser was, in a word, enterprising. Among those who turned out at the Cleveland event to support the Democratic candidate were Star Trek: Voyager's Robert Picardo and Robert Duncan McNeill, Star Trek: The Next Generation's John de Lancie, as well as Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. "I guess you could say I'm boldly going where no politician has gone before," said Hagan, 56.

The starry Trek crew came courtesy of Hagan's wife, actress Kate Mulgrew, 47, who played Voyager's Captain Janeway. Part political pep rail)7, part Trek convention—the actors chatted with fans and even did stand-up comedy—the fund-raiser drew about 500 supporters and raised approximately $150,000 for Hagan's campaign against Republican incumbent Bob Taft. (Mulgrew's Voyager costume alone fetched $50,000 in a memorabilia auction.)

Taft campaign spokesman Orest Holubec had just one question: "Were the donations in U.S. dollars or in bars of [Star Trek currency] gold-pressed latinum?"

Bernie Knows Best

The Bernie Mac Show kicks off its second season on FOX Sept. 18 (Matt Damon guest-stars in the season premiere). The series revolves around the comic's unique approach to child rearing, so Scoop asked Mac, 44, for some real-life parenting tips.

1. I believe in tough love. You don't love what's for dinner? Tough!

2. Know your three R's: Relax. Relate. Retaliate.

3. I believe in give and take. I give orders...and they take them

4. Kids need straight talk. Straight to homework. Straight to your room. Straight to bed.

5. Listen to your kids. Then do what you want.

The King and I
In our Aug. 26 issue, Scoop published a couple of rare photos of Elvis Presley—given to us by Nashville guitar maker Ted Newman Jones—including one of the King and an unidentified woman. Days later, Michael Safft, a Toronto bookstore clerk, wrote us to say that's no anonymous fan; that's his mother, Annie, now 67 and living in Denmark. "I have that picture on my wall," says Safft, 43. His father, Jack Jensen, then a freelance photographer for a Danish newspaper, took Annie backstage at a Toronto theater in 1957 in hopes of grabbing a shot of the star. Presley's manager, Col. Tom Parker, gave permission, and asked Jensen's shy, pretty wife to pose with the singer. Though not a fan, Annie fell for Elvis after watching him perform later that evening. "Elvis had such a radiance," her son says, "that she was swept away." One mystery remains: No one knows how Jensen's photos ended up in a Texas house, where they were discovered 20 years ago by friends of Jones's.

Sounding Off at the Open

At the Aug. 26 opening-night party for the 2002 U.S. Open, celebs and jocks gathered to ponder one of tennis's great mysteries: Hey, what's with all the grunting and groaning on court? "It must be necessary," says Saturday Night hive's Tina Fey, 32. "Nobody would do it if it wasn't." She admits that she and her SNL costar Horatio Sanz, 34, sound off on the court when they play together but says, "We're wheezers because we both have asthma." Liev Schreiber, 34 (The Sum of All Fears), says the grunt work is a way of channeling energy: "Grunts give you more power in your shot. I do it all the time." Meanwhile, talk show host Ricki Lake, 33, takes issue with anyone who grumbles about the groaning. "The players need to do anything they can to get that ball over the net," she says.

At least one expert in the field says that for him there are more natural reasons for the noisy habit. "I groan a lot more than I used to," says John McEnroe, 43. "I think it's because I'm old."

POP QUIZ

with Robert Englund

On Sept. 9 filming begins on Freddy vs. Jason, the long-awaited face-off between two of horrordom's bloodiest slashers: A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger and Friday the 13th's Jason Voorhees (the showdown is due in theaters next year). Robert Englund, 53, who has played Freddy in seven films over 18 years, spoke with Scoop about the scary business.

Freddy and Jason: Compare and contrast.

Freddy is smarter than Jason. Jason's just a big, dumb shark. Freddy knows your deepest, darkest secret. He can manipulate you. Freddy is the nightmare.

So who wins?

I can safely say that Freddy will get into Jason's head. Jason is vulnerable because of Freddy's mind games. But I don't want to give away too many secrets.

Who's had the higher body count?

I think Jason's got a couple more notches on his belt. He's ruthless. But Freddy's killed some big names. Johnny Depp [who starred in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street] was a great kill.

You've been at this since 1984. Ever wonder about your own mortality?

I'm not a kid anymore. As you get older, it takes longer to heal an injury. I've had a double hernia, an Achilles tendon injury and a bad wrist. When they start throwing Freddy against a wall, I'm going to let my stunt double step in.

Do you worry about being typecast?

The first thing my obituary will say is Robert Englund, a.k.a. Freddy Krueger. I made peace with that a long time ago. I wouldn't be able to make other films if it weren't for Freddy's huge international success. He's opened doors for me.

Will Freddy ever get to rest in peace?

There will obviously be a time to hang up my claw. I don't want it to become Freddy vs. Geritol. But I can still play him a couple more times. He's a pretty resilient guy. I'll never say never.

ON THE BLOCK

DIVA'S DOMAIN

Celine Dion, 34, and husband René Angélil, 60, are selling their Jupiter, Fla., waterfront estate, complete with silver baby scale and multiple changing stations. (They have a 19-month-old son, René-Charles.) "It's perfectly outfitted for a couple with a newborn," says Realtor Rob Thomson. Make that a couple with a newborn and, uh, $20 million, the asking price for the 15,000-sq.-ft. Mediterranean-style house. Also included: a rooftop terrace, home theater and every mother's dream—a soundproof master bedroom.

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