Scoop

updated 04/28/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/28/2003 01:00AM

Just Not Married
Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy pull the plug on their giddy romance

Ah, young love. A fickle thing it is. Take the abrupt end of the seven-month P.D.A.-fest starring Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy. Since their romance began last October, the couple, who met on the set of the newly-wed romp Just Married, had been a ubiquitous fixture on nightclub guest lists, red carpets and each other's lips—even continuing to sport the wedding bands they wore in the film long after shooting wrapped. "I like everything about her," Kutcher gushed to PEOPLE in February. "She's the total package."

Yet sources say the faux bride and groom quietly called it quits last week. Not that even a trained eye could tell. Both attendees at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards in Santa Monica on April 12, the just-split Kutcher and Murphy, both 25, were more than civil when they bumped into one another backstage. In fact, "they were really cute," says one observer. "They got these Hulk walkie-talkies and they were talking to each other. They seemed like a couple." To say nothing of last week, when the pair turned up at Joseph's Cafe, a trendy Hollywood hot spot, for some late-night flirty dancing. "She was pretending to undo the buttons of his shirt," says one clubgoer, before the couple left together after a few songs. Even an insider on Kutcher's That '70s Show set thought that in spite of a "snag" the two "were getting serious when the show wrapped three weeks ago."

Apparently looks can be deceiving. Kutcher's rep, Matt Labov, confirms the split but won't say why. Any hope of a rematch? "Anything is possible," says a source close to the pair. "But I don't think so."

Think Globally, Act Globally
Angelina Jolie is putting her money where her famously bee-stung pucker is. After numerous visits to the rain forests of northwestern Cambodia, the 27-year-old actress, smitten by the country's natural beauty while filming 200l's Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, is donating more than $1.3 million over the next five years to help protect a 52,000-acre wilderness habitat known as 100 Elephants Forest. The money will be used to preserve the forest—which is home to some of Cambodia's last remaining wild tigers and elephants—and to educate native people about conservation and sustainable alternatives to logging. "She loves nature and believes this is a way she can help," said Mounh Sarath of Cambodian Vision in Development, which is overseeing the effort. Jolie isn't the only star with a heart of green. Harrison Ford and Cameron Diaz have teamed up with environmental groups in Belize to oppose the construction of a massive dam across the Macal River. Ecologists say flooding will destroy the habitats of a multitude of rare animals—most permanently the endangered scarlet macaw.

Of Arms and the Man
As Sean Penn lunched at a restaurant in downtown Berkeley on the afternoon of April 8, his car—a black 1987 Buick Grand National parked just blocks away—was stolen on a busy boulevard and taken for a joyride in broad daylight. The good news: Penn's vintage ride was recovered about nine miles away three days later "all in one piece," says a Berkeley police source. The bad news: The loaded 9mm Glock handgun and unloaded Smith & Wesson revolver he kept in the Buick are now missing. The actor, a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq, does have proper state permits for carrying concealed weapons and is "disturbed the vehicle was found without the licensed guns," says his rep Mara Buxbaum.

Hello! and Goodbye
Celebrities can have their wedding cake and eat it in privacy—or at lest sell the photos to the magazine of their choice. So ruled a London judge April 11, pleasing Catherine Zeta-Jones, 33, and Michael Douglas, 58, who sued Britain's Hello! magazine for publishing unauthorized snapshots of their November 2000 nuptials. They had originally sold the picture rights to Hello!'s rival OK!magazine. "It wasn't a celebrity event," says an attorney for the couple. "It was a private wedding."

Vampin' in Vegas

Perhaps you are wondering: Is the new Celine Dion show at Caesars Palace, with ticket prices up to $200, giving you maximum Las Vegas entertainment bang for the buck? Scoop checked out the alternatives. Here's what else $200 can buy:

Forty rides on the Stratosphere's 1,149-ft-tall High Roller coaster.

Four Gondola rides in the Venetian's canal.

Two ceramic roosters ($89.95), a bulletproof vest ($89.95) and change at the Pawn Palace.

114 shrimp cocktails ($1.75) at Jackie Gaughan's Plaza Hotel & Casino. That's 1,200 shrimp!

Lee's Stand

Rocker Tommy Lee, 40, testified last week in a civil suit over the drowning of a little boy in his pool, saying he was concerned with the safety of the children who came to his son Brandon's birthday party but was certain all had parents or guardians to look after them. Daniel Karven-Veres, 4, drowned on June 16, 2001, during the party. A portion of Lee's testimony, filed by the Associated Press, follows:

"As far as you're concerned, you did everything right?" asked attorney Thomas Girardi, who represents the parents of the dead child.

"Yes," said Lee.

"That's how you should have a party for 4-year-olds?" asked the lawyer.

"Yes," Lee said.

"It was a great party." Asked if he was particularly concerned for the safety of the children, Lee said, "If they were alone it would be my problem. They weren't."

POP QUIZ
with Viggo Mortensen

In the Lord of the Rings films, Viggo Mortensen plays Aragorn, a somber and reflective warrior with a poet's soul. Turns out in real life Mortensen has a touch of the bard in him as well. An avid painter and photographer, Mortensen, 44, has also published several poetry collections, including last year's Coincidence of Memory. Scoop caught up with the writerly actor.

Some people think beret, bongo drums and cigarettes when they think poetry. Fair?

People think poetry is a guy in a basement smoking French cigarettes, and that it doesn't have a place in our modern, high-paced world of computers and TV. I don't agree. I don't have a beret.

When you were filming the Rings trilogy, ever climb a mountain to write poems?

We were often in mountains, so I would write there. But you can write anywhere. I've written poems on airplanes, in subways, taxis, even in the bathtub.

Okay, we must ask: Ever use poetry to land chicks?

I've tried, but I don't think it actually works.

One of your works is posted on a Poets Against the War Web site. Are you against it?

I do feel it was ill-advised to ignore so many countries and so many millions of people around the world and in our own country who had very strong feelings about diplomacy. I don't think our government really tried that at all. The agenda seemed to be set, and I think that's dangerous.

Is the war you're waging in the Rings trilogy justified?

That's about how a person—even a small person like a Hobbit—can make a difference, and how it's essential to work together and look past differences.

You write, paint and photograph. You're a jazz musician and equestrian. Do you bowl?

I'm a decent bowler.

Anything you can't do?'

I don't know. I'm just trying to get the most out of the ride.

ON THE BLOCK

PATTON'S PERCH
The first time George C. Scott saw this Greenwich, Conn., house in 1973, he knew he was home. "George said, 'This is it!' " recalls his widow, actress Trish Van Devere. "It has a grace and a substance to it." The actor, who won an Oscar in 1971 for starring in Patton, died in 1999, and Van Devere, who now resides in Malibu, is selling the wooded 14.5-acre estate for $8.7 million. Built in 1917, the 6,500-sq.-ft. fieldstone colonial has five bedrooms plus three for staff. The property also features a horse stable, riding trails, a pond, an arched stone bridge and a vast meadowland.

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