Scoop

updated 05/05/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/05/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Daddy Long Legs
Michael Jackson wants you to believe he's really not wacko at all

Why, despite all the recent controversy surrounding him, does Michael Jackson continue to publicize his life? "I want people to see the real me," the reclusive singer told People after releasing personal home videos to FOX for an April 24 special, Michael Jackson's Private Home Movies. "I don't have sex with little kids, I don't sleep in hyperbaric chambers, and I don't have elephant bones in my body. I'm not a mean person. It breaks my heart to think some people have said that. So many things are said about me, and I have no idea where they came from." He also said that he does not have any intention of selling Neverland, his California estate, despite speculation that it was on the market.

The singer provided FOX with footage of himself growing up, hanging out with celebrity pals like Macaulay Culkin and taking his children to the supermarket ("Michael thought it would be fun, because he never gets to go there," says a friend). Alas, the show didn't document another one of his curious forays: On April 17 the 44-year-old singer took son Prince Michael, 6, and daughter Paris, 5, shopping at Santa Monica's Sharper Image—complete with head-covering Spider-Man masks. "It is to disguise them from the crowds who surround them everywhere they go," says a friend. "Michael happens to love Spider-Man. He tells the children it is a game they all play."

Ferrell's VIP Run
Perhaps owing to the impressive stride Will Ferrell displayed during his buck-naked street streak in Old School, the Boston Athletic Association offered the comic an invite to run in the 107th Boston Marathon April 21 even though he did not meet the requirement for others in his age group: completing a previous marathon in 3 hours and 15 minutes or faster. "He helps broaden the appeal of the race," says BAA spokesman Jack Fleming. One of about 500 participants out of more than 20,200 to get a special waiver, Ferrell, 35, did not disappoint. A marathon runner for years—Ferrell has run in New York City and Stockholm—the former SNL star crossed the finish line in just over 4 hours. "He was really pumped up at the end of the race," says Fleming. "People were holding up signs that said, 'Go Will!' "

A Career Postponed
Waffa bin Laden's quest to become a pop singer in London has been on hold since hostilities began in the Gulf. Though Waffa, 27, denounces all ties to her uncle Osama bin Laden, her rep says, "She's lying low."

Brad, in a Pinch
Attention ladies: Brad Pitt's, er, butt is up for grabs. Madame Tussaud's wax museum in London has unveiled an updated $80,000 model of the actor featuring foam-and-silicone implants to make his backside more "interactive." The results? Long lines of Brad buffs seeking a chance to give their movie idol a squeeze. But is it realistic? Scoop's brave and curious Courtney Rubin investigated. Her report:

"It felt like a slightly deflated kickball—or like pinching a boyfriend through padded bike shorts. Not very sexy. And having museum employees encourage me to touch, don't just look, took away the illicit thrill. Half the reason for a quick squeeze—or maybe all of it—is the response. Of which 'Brad,' of course, has none. No look of mock horror. No squeeze back."

Next up from Madame Tussaud's realitymeisters: an interactive Jennifer Lopez. Whoa! Hey! Everybody just calm down—now! All that happens is: You whisper in her ear, she blushes.

Meet Joe College
College campuses arc known for two things: rigorous intellectual discourse and the relentless pursuit of a good time. It's probably safe to say that Joe Millionaire star Evan Marriott's invitation to speak at the University of Missouri-Columbia falls into the latter category. Though he has no background in public speaking, Marriott, 28, hosted a Q & A session for nearly 400 students April 9. Taking the stage to whistles and female screams of "Take your pants off," the ex-construction worker opened the lecture in a way few campus orators have, by blurting, "What the hell am I doing here?" While some attendees felt they got what they came for—"I came because he is hot," said one junior—the student paper The Maneater ran a scathing editorial the next day, noting, "The fact that the Missouri Students Association dealt out $11,000 for his appearance is downright depressing," and deriding Marriott's lack of entertainment experience: "A five-week stint of lying to women doesn't count."

Doubles or Nothing?
If you believe syndicated gossip columnist Liz Smith, Meg Ryan, 41, has her hands full dating two men: William Keane (Chicago Hope), 32, and John Cusack, 36, who just ended his four-year relationship with actress Neve Campbell. Although reps for the three did not comment for this story, Cusack, who was spotted with Ryan at her Malibu home over Easter weekend, last week debunked rumors of a romance. "It's not true," he told the Toronto Star. "And even if it was, I wouldn't talk about it."

Iglesias: I'm a Mole Man
A new hunt for the celebrity mole is on, but this time it's not part of an ABC reality show. Recent photographs of Enrique Iglesias, 27, show no sign of the pop singer's once prominent beauty mark. This has led to intense speculation in the media—the populist press, as opposed to scientific journals—that the mole had been removed. But Iglesias's camp says it hasn't. So there.

POP QUIZ
with Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks hits the road this month, donning her platform shoes to tour with Fleetwood Mac following the release of their new album Say You Will. Scoop talked with Nicks, 54, late one night after band rehearsal in L.A.

How's rehearsal?

If I sound like I'm spaced, I'm not. I've been listening to really, really, really loud rock and roll since 2 o'clock, for almost eight hours now. But that's how it is—very long hours.

And you still love this?

I will like it if I'm having fun out there. I think we need to go out and make music that makes people happy.

How do rock and menopause mix?

Well, it has not been easy. I fight it every day. It takes over your life. It makes you not feel good. I've heard women say menopause is wonderful, the "change" is great, but it's not. It sucks. It forces you to make a choice—whether you want to get old or you want to stay young.

And you?

I have a 40-city tour starting on May 17. I can't give in.

At what age do you start worrying about falling off your platform boots?

I was trying to prepare everyone that I wasn't going to wear them on this tour, and I got a terrible reaction. So I guess they're back.

What do you think of the new crop of female rockers?

I just met Michelle Branch. Pretty impressive. I told her to write her own songs. That's where you make the money. I also laughingly said, "Don't ever gain 20 lbs."

Out of curiosity, have you seen American Idol?

Whenever I can. I love it. It makes me laugh. If I was 20, I'd be down there trying out.

If Simon said you couldn't sing, how would you react?

I could handle him.

And if you were a judge?

I'd be just like him. "Get another job. Next!"

ON THE BLOCK

CROWE'S LOVE NEST
Just one day after their April 7 nuptials, newlyweds Russell Crowe, 39, and Danielle Spencer, 32, plunked down $8.25 million for a waterfront penthouse apartment overlooking Sydney Harbour. "They wanted to get somewhere quick," says real estate agent Tony Barron, who sold them the 11,500-sq.-ft. property, which boasts terrace balconies, seven bedrooms and one priceless feature—privacy. Says Barron: "He can come and go as he likes without the public seeing his every move."

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