Jennifer Lopez

Scoop

UPDATED 08/25/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/25/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

Battered but Still Betrothed
After a very bad week, Affleck jokes, Lopez works and wedding plans move ahead

Sure, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez took a beating in the press, but Gigli reviews and a strip club visit aside, their love looks like it handled the hoopla. "The wedding is going to be Dec. 11," the actor—without Lopez, who was working in Canada—teased on Aug. 11 at the Battle of Shaker Heights premiere in L.A. As for the strippers, Affleck told The Tonight Show's Jay Leno, "I'm a young guy," and declared, "I'm getting married soon" but offered no date. Jen's take on the strippers? Affleck said he told her in advance and she had no problem—although she later said, "You've had your bachelor party." As for what he called the "perfect storm" of bad press, "This is the price you pay," Affleck told reporters. Which doesn't mean he likes it. "I stopped watching TV; I watch sports."

Meanwhile Lopez beat the media stress by getting back to her career. Less than two months after firing her long-time agent Patrick Whitesell, she rehired him. For the record, her people insist it had nothing to do with Gigli.

VERA WANG GETS THE CALL
Need more evidence that Ben and Jen are still headed down the matrimonial road? A source close to Lopez (above, in L.A. Aug. 2) tells Scoop that the bride-to-be has been through several wedding-dress fittings with designer Vera Wang—with only one fitting remaining before The Big Day. For her part, Wang had no comment.

Kelly: The Show's Over
Citing health reasons, Kelly Osbourne abruptly canceled her European tour Aug. 12 and flew to New York City. The problem, says her London rep, began a few weeks ago while dining in the South of France with her brother Jack, who recently emerged from drug-and-alcohol rehab. "She and Jack got a bit of food poisoning there," the rep said. Kelly returned to Britain as an opening act for singer Robbie Williams but soon tired. "She is really exhausted," the rep says. "She's only 18, after all. It is absolutely nothing to do with poor ticket sales or drugs or drink. Her mum thought it would be the best thing. She didn't want to see another kid going through rehab."

Justin & Cameron: Three's Company
The Justin Timberlake-Cameron Diaz road show continues to heat up—even with the chaperone. Those with front-row views on his current tour report seeing Diaz, 30, holding hands with Timberlake's mom, Lynn Harless, as he sings his heart out onstage (and Diaz sings along from the audience). Mom and Cam most recently met up in Atlantic City, where a $1 million equipment crash Aug. 9 forced the postponement of several concert dates. The grown-up boy-band star, 22, and Diaz still spent most of the day at the Jersey shore, enjoying a luxury suite complete with double-size tub at the Borgata hotel and casino until 3 p.m. Then it was off to Manhattan, where the couple dined at Nobu with Drew Barrymore and Timberlake shot a music video the following day.

A RAISE, OR ELSE
TV's latest holdout? Brad Garrett of Everybody Loves Raymond, earning under $200,000 per episode and wanting more. He didn't show last week. Star Ray Romano makes $50 million a season.

Nic & Len: Two on the Town
Yes, Nicole Kidman is renting rocker Lenny Kravitz's New York City apartment while in town to film a remake of The Stepford Wives. Yes, the pair have been out together several times since, including a June 26 birthday bash for Kravitz thrown by music mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and a Time-Lapse Consortium concert at the Knitting Factory a little more than a month later. "He was looking after her, being protective of her," says a witness at the club. But please, say their reps, do not read anything more into it than that. And certainly don't believe a report that the pair are planning a Mediterranean cruise together soon. Kidman, 36, will be filming in the New York area through October, and Kravitz, 39, will be busy recording a new album. So, no, there's still no cruise in her life.

the smoking gun

Kobe Closes His Charity
As Kobe Bryant works to restore an image tarnished by a sexual assault charge, Internal Revenue Service records show that the NBA star this year shuttered his charitable foundation, a group that once supported organizations combating child abuse. Founded in March 1998, the Kobe Bryant Foundation assisted nonprofits that emphasized "self-respect, morals, values and structure," according to the group's tax returns. Before dissolving the foundation, Bryant donated a total of more than $300,000 to agencies like Los Angeles's Hollygrove, which aids children born addicted to drugs or who have "experienced sexual and physical abuse." Beginning in 2001, when the organization made a single $10,000 grant, the Bryant foundation's contributions have plummeted. After donating no money in 2002, the group disbanded this year, distributing its remaining $38,673 to three groups, including the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. (Court TV's The Smoking Gun can be found on the Web at www.thesmokinggun.com.)

Gibson Takes His Passion on the Road
Mel Gibson's efforts to blunt criticisms of his upcoming Jesus epic, The Passion, took a hit Aug. 11 when the Anti-Defamation League said the film "will fuel hatred, bigotry and anti-Semitism" if released in its present form. Major objections: The movie portrays Jews as "blood-thirsty, sadistic and money-hungry enemies of God," the ADL contends, and "relies on historical errors." Gibson has been showing rough cuts of The Passion, filmed in Aramaic and Latin, to small audiences across the country, including to ADL members at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts on Aug. 8. Screenings have also been arranged for celebrities such as The View's Star Jones. From a "Christian woman's point of view," Jones told The New York Times, "it touched my soul in a place that I think a movie has never done."

40 Candles for Whitney
Whitney Houston's 40th birthday party was a time for fans, friends and family—with one exception. Houston's husband, Bobby Brown, failed to attend the Aug. 9 bash at the Taboo Bistro & Bar in Atlanta after off-duty deputies, working security at the bash, said they would honor an outstanding warrant for his arrest. (The nearby DeKalb County Sheriff's Dept. says Brown, 36, violated terms of his probation for a 1996. drunk-driving charge).
No matter. Brown sent a present, a large oil portrait by artist Ernest Watson, of Whitney reclining in Bobby's arms. Houston herself arrived near 1 a.m., an hour past her actual birthday.

POP QUIZ

Rob Lowe

It's summer—do you know where Rob Lowe is? We asked, There's a large fish involved. Not to mention a scary Stephen King novel and an NBC series. (No, it's not The West Wing. Lowe, 39, has moved on.)

How's summer going?

Busy. I did a big miniseries with Donald Sutherland, James Cromwell and Andre Braugher called Salem's Lot. It will be out next year. Then I went to the South Pacific for a vacation. Caught a 300-lb. marlin, had two days off, and since then I've been working on The Lyon's Den [his new fall series on NBC?].

Who went with you?

The whole family [wife Sheryl Berkoff, 42; sons Matthew, 9, and John Owen, 7]. We went to Tahiti. It was great. Just for vacation. No phones. No faxes. No revisions. No writers' meetings.

Does your wife mind when you're fishing all day?

The family comes along. My family loves the ocean.

About that marlin: dinner or trophy? Will it hang in your rec room?

We did the old catch-and-release.

You turn—dare we say it?—40 next year. Ready?

I remember when my parents turned 40, and I went, "Wow, that's old!" And now I feel exactly like I felt when I was 20. And I am good with it.

Same waist on the jeans as when you were 20?

Same waist on the jeans. I will say that I finally had to stop eating like I was 20.1 had to give up McDonald's more than once a week, pizza more than once a week.

You enjoyed the family vacation. Do you consider yourself a great dad?

I don't know if I am a "great" dad or not, but my most proud accomplishments are my children. I am aware that I will not always have these years with them, and I am trying to make them count.

ON THE BLOCK

LEANN'S LAIR
Price: nearly $2.5 million
Place: Bel Air, Calif.
Specs: LeAnn Rimes had her first hit, "Blue," at the tender age of 13. The singer, who turns 21 on Aug. 28, recently moved to Nashville to start a family with husband Dean Sheremet, 22, so Rimes sold this renovated 1950s nest, purchased in 2000. The property contains a four-bedroom abode, a pool and a detached 1,500-sq.-ft. building with a recording studio, media room, apartment, four-car garage and wine cellar.

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