updated 05/12/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/12/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Taking a break from promoting her new album, American Life, Madonna gathered a group of close friends and took them out dancing at the Paramount Bar in New York City on April 23. Madonna arrived with husband Guy Ritchie and pal Stella McCartney, then welcomed 50 or so guests, including Chris Rock, Sandra Bernhard, Willem Dafoe, Carson Daly and documentary filmmaker Michael Moore. The stars lounged on couches and drank champagne. Then just before midnight, Madonna surprised Moore with a cake to celebrate the filmmaker's 49th birthday and led everyone in singing "Happy Birthday." Later, when the deejay played the title track of her new album, Madonna hit the floor, dancing to her own beat with Ritchie and McCartney in tow.
A lot of people in L.A. hope to run into a celebrity, but usually not in the literal sense. On April 28 Calista Flockhart was driving boyfriend Harrison Ford's Jaguar in Santa Monica when she was rear-ended by an inattentive driver. No one was hurt in the fender bender, and Flockhart quickly grabbed her 2-year-old son Liam from the car and ducked into a nearby liquor store to talk with police and escape the gathering paparazzi. Bystanders say the actress, although shaken by the ordeal, couldn't have been nicer. When the woman who hit her apologized, Flockhart responded, "Don't worry about it. Accidents happen."
To keep his costars spirits up while shooting the rain-drenched thriller Identity in L.A., John Cusack broke out the bats and balls and organized a daily hitting competition on a nearly empty soundstage at lunchtime. Making like Barry Bonds, Cusack frequently knocked the ball clear across the soundstage. It became kind of scary, however, for the small crew building sets and fixing lunch with balls whizzing around them and knocking things over. "We used soft balls so we wouldn't break anything," says Cusack. "We had to have fun because the movie was pretty creepy."
The doorman of a trendy cocktail bar in London put the wrong foot forward recently when he turned Prince William away for wearing sneakers. (To be fair, the prince, who was wearing a low-slung baseball cap, arrived with a group and wasn't immediately recognizable.) Without missing a beat, Wills jokingly took matters into his own hands and removed the offending footwear. It was then that an employee recognized Wills and quickly righted matters. Once inside, the 20-year-old prince settled into his normal pub routine and had a friend order him a drink (his favorite is a white panther, a blend of white rum, amaretto and créme de banane).