updated 09/15/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/15/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman may have come to a crossroads in what until now has been a storybook marriage

Is the five-year marriage of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman on the rocks? The couple, who met on the set of the 1997 film Gattaca and who have two children together (Maya Ray, 5, and Levon Roan, 1), have been plagued recently by talk that their relationship has hit tough times. According to a source, Hawke, in Montreal filming the thriller Taking Lives with Angelina Jolie, has become friendly with Jenny Perzow, 22, the daughter of a local apparel manufacturer. The insider says the two met this summer at Montreal's Globe restaurant, where Perzow was celebrating her birthday. Soon Hawke "was calling her four times a day," says the source, who adds that the actor even considered taking Perzow to Paris for his next film shoot. Meanwhile, Thurman, who spent most of the summer in Vancouver filming the thriller Paycheck, is biding her time at home in New York City. An insider says she and Hawke have not discussed separating or what to do next. Says her rep: "At present there are no plans for divorce."

Cheat Sheet

the Matt & Ben play

WHAT IT IS: Matt & Ben, an off-Broadway play about the prefame lives of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck that's gotten good reviews and heavy buzz (Nicole Kidman and Steve Martin attended a show last week).

BACKSTORY: The play is the brainchild of Brenda Withers and Mindy Kaling, who also star (Withers plays Matt, Kaling channels Ben). The actresses came up with the idea two years ago while living together in Astoria, N.Y. "There's something similar to us and these big stars [even though they] have all this money," says Withers.

REACTION: Though neither Matt nor Ben has seen the show, Affleck says through a rep, "We wish them well."

Speedo: Forever Hip
Ah, the Speedo. A marvel of elastic engineering, an ode to the male physique. The swimsuit proudly celebrates its 75th birthday this year. That's 75 summers of raised eyebrows and furtive giggles. Unless, of course, you're an Olympian or French. Herewith, a look at a few who dared to wear the styles it inspired.

Jennifer Garner is about to blow her cover. The actress, who stars as CIA operative Sydney Bristow on the ABC show Alias, has agreed to be part of a recruitment video for the real CIA. Garner will film a brief introduction for a six-to-seven minute video that will be shown at job fairs and college campuses. Although the intelligence agency had hoped to shoot Garner on the Alias set, the show's producers found the timing difficult, so filming will now take place at a location to be determined. "Jennifer's character—in fact, Jennifer herself—has the qualities of dedication, patriotism, intelligence and creativity that we look for in people we recruit," says Chase Brandon, the CIA's entertainment-industry liaison, a former undercover operative who also happens to be a cousin of actor Tommy Lee Jones. Garner was referred to Brandon by her Pearl Harbor (and Daredevil) costar Ben Affleck, who visited the CIA while filming the thriller The Sum of All Fears. The actress, who will not be paid for the appearance, had no comment about the gig.

Banned from American Idol
Bruce Springsteen may be "Born in the U.S.A.," but contestants singing a Springsteen song won't become the next American Idol. His tunes are among the many banned from the show's auditions. While FOX won't say why, a source notes that acquiring TV rights to works by some artists can be extremely difficult and/ or expensive. As for other verboten songs, such as Alicia Keys's "Fallin'," there's a simpler explanation from Simon Cowell himself: "[The judges] have heard it a million time."


Sarah McLachlan

Etta James

Elton John

Alicia Keys


Whitney Houston

Harry Nilsson

And anything by Bruce Springsteen, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Mariah Carey and R. Kelly

Michael Jackson Celebrates 45

Despite his Peter Pan ways, Michael Jackson has grown a little older and on Aug. 30 celebrated his 45th birthday at a $30-to-$100 per guest party given by his fan club at the Orpheum Theatre in L.A. Which is not to say the event wasn't filled with kids. Jackson's children Prince Michael I, 6, and Paris, 5, and family friends were there, arriving at the event in the King of Pop's stretch limo. Among the few celebs in attendance: pal Mario Van Peebles and singer Brian McKnight. (Emcee Steve Harvey joked: "I was under the misconception that I might be introducing a lot of famous people.") Jackson, after watching performances by Jacko impersonators, dancers and amateur rappers, took the stage to accept his birthday cake—a 9-ft.-tall, 400-lb. concoction featuring a sugar Jackson figure and 450 sugar roses—and say a few words. "Your faith, your loyalty has given me great strength during difficult times," he told 2,000 fans before touting possible future business ventures, including a new clothing line, resort hotels and fan access to his Neverland ranch, which the singer will open on Sept. 13 to 250 couples at a cost of $5,000 per pair (of which $1,000 will go to charity). Said an unenthused Harvey as the night dragged on: "I'm at the 'I want to go home' point now."


Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen's new CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, premiering Sept. 22, will look at how domesticity changes a swinging bachelor. Sheen, 38, has been married to Denise Richards, 32, since June 15, 2002. Scoop asked: Any parallels?

How was your first wedding anniversary?

It was lovely. We took a trip to the Caribbean, stayed at a nice hotel and got sunburned.

Notice any changes since you've been married?

Oh, yeah. It's a daily education, but it is so worth the investment. It's better than I imagined it.

Has working with a kid on your new show put any ideas in your head?

Of course.

So we can expect a baby shower soon?

Not immediately, but eventually.

Any compatibility issues with Denise?

I'm a Virgo, so I am very organized and I am very obsessive about neatness. And my poor wife, it drives her insane. But we have four dogs and three cats and a few fish, so there is always a mess somewhere.

You are a neat freak?

Yeah. I know. It is very annoying. It is a curse.

What decorating challenges did you face merging households?

A lot of her suggestions were incorporated immediately, because they were correct. I was living in a
cave. It was so black and dark, and all the materials were dead. I mean, there was a lot of nice decor and antiques and collectible stuff, but it was all surrounded by basically the colors of the war.

What did she add?

She didn't Laura Ashley the place and drive me insane. But she brought life to it.

What's on the CD player?

Zeppelin, the Doors, Hendrix, the Stones, Guns N' Roses, Van Halen, Aerosmith.

Got a favorite song?

The song we danced to, our first song, was "Open Arms" by Journey. It is so high school, and it is borderline cheesy, but in its essence, it is a brilliant song.


PRICE: About $950,000
PLACE: Los Angeles, Calif.
SPECS: Brittany Murphy is selling this Spanish hideaway, her home for more than four years. Built in 1928, the hilltop hacienda offers a "great flow for entertaining," says the Westside Estate Agency's Sara Berger. With views of Beachwood Canyon, the two-bedroom abode includes decks and a living room with French doors leading to a courtyard.

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