Scoop

updated 08/15/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/15/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

PLAY TIME
After months tending to her twins Hazel and Phinnaeus, Julia Roberts prepares for her first Broadway

After nearly two decades in the movies, Julia Roberts will give her regards to Broadway. The Oscar-winning actress is set to star in Three Days of Rain next March, despite very limited theater experience. (She made her stage debut as Elizabeth Dole in her high school's 1985 mock election campaign.) "She's acknowledging all the butterflies in her stomach," says the show's producer, Marc Platt. "I think she is very excited and appropriately nervous." Mutual admiration between Roberts and director Joe Mantello (who shaped Broadway's Wicked) led to her casting following a reading in L.A. several weeks ago. After hearing her in the role, says Platt, "it was very evident...that there was a beautiful marriage of actress to character." Set in two acts 35 years apart, the play features each of its actors (the other two have yet to be cast) in two roles—children in the first act, their parents in the second. She's prepared for the latter, thanks to 8-month-old twins Hazel and Finn, but like any actress new to theater, Roberts is sampling stage fright. "By the time I get there," Roberts told The New York Times, "I'll be entirely apoplectic. But the terror is part of the excitement."

+ ROSIE: BACK TO BROADWAY?
Hint No. 1 that Rosie O'Donnell is considering a return to Broadway in Fiddler on the Roof: It's the talk of New York's theater Web sites. Hint No. 2: Rosie's Web page (www.rosie.com) features a photo of her son Parker, 10, as a...fiddler on the roof! Hint No. 3: "I spoke to her on the phone today, and she was very hopeful," says Fiddler star Harvey Fierstein, who plays Tevye. O'Donnell is considering playing his wife. Expect an announcement soon.

SCOTT'S FIRST WORDS
Scott Peterson, death row blogger? In his first public statement since being sentenced to death in March for killing his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Peterson, 32, used the Internet to thank those who still believe he is innocent. "The amount of support we have received is just incredible," he writes on a Web page (www.ccadp.org/scottpeterson.htm) hosted by a Canadian organization that opposes the death penalty. "I wish I could respond to express my gratitude.... However, people having sold my notes, and sometimes fabricating content, preclude me from doing so." Peterson, who said he was "encouraged" by his mail, can't read his own posting: Prisoners in San Quentin have no access to computers. He did choose to post two photos of himself and Laci, as well as a defense brief and links to several sites promoting his innocence. Laci's family could not be reached for comment.

What to like About Keith
Country music fans know Keith Urban. But after photographs recently surfaced of him on a Sunday jaunt with Nicole Kidman, many a non-country fan has asked: Hey, what's he got? Scoop asked one of the singer's friends, who wished to remain anonymous, for guidance. And he said: Urban, 37, is Australian (though born in New Zealand) and a bit of a hippie. He's interested in spiritual things and always seeking self-improvement. He doesn't wear cowboy hats, appreciates fashion, but won't go overboard with clothes. Loves his parents, hates publicity about his personal life. Considers fellow country singer Kenny Chesney a close pal (they've been touring together). Says the friend: "He works at being the best that is humanly possible at music, songwriting, guitar playing and singing."

LOHAN SHOWDOWN
I don't think any girl wants to see her parents in this situation," says Lindsay Lohan, 19, about her folks' divorce trial, set to begin Aug. 3 in Long Island, N.Y. "I've been hurt." But it's clear which side Lohan is on. "My mom has always been a great support, and she has put so much of her own life into my career. I do worry about her," says the actress, who canceled the remainder of her Herbie: Fully Loaded European tour to bolster her mother, Dina, 42, who doubles as her manager. Less than five percent of divorces ever make it to trial. This one could be full of drama: Dina has claimed that Michael, 45, whom she married in 1985, was an abusive philanderer. Lohan has said that her father never helped her career, but he is now seeking half of Dina's earnings. And though Michael is serving 1 1/3 to four years in prison for crimes including driving while impaired, he is expected to attend the trial.

Wife Swap?
Emmy-winning actress Sela Ward might have been a Desperate Housewife—divorcée Susan, to be precise. "I was sent the script...it was the Teri Hatcher role," she tells SCOOP. So what happened? "I just couldn't sign a six-year contract. I had just finished Once and Again, and my mother had died. It was a very difficult time." Ward passed but says that it wasn't a firm offer. "It wasn't, 'Here's the money, here's the deal.' It was a feeler." Still, she says, "I regret not being on a show that successful."

PAULA: THE INVESTIGATION DRAGS ON
American Idol may be on hiatus, but the drama for Paula Abdul hasn't let up just yet. FOX's independent counsel is still looking into allegations that former contestant Corey Clark made against the Idol judge back in May. (He told ABC's Primetime Live that he had a sexual relationship with Abdul and that she coached him for the show. Abdul replied that she wouldn't "dignify false accusations.") What's going on? Clark, for one, says his June 30 interview with the counsel allowed him to provide further evidence: "I've got phone records and more. Stuff that [ABC] couldn't show or talk about." And while FOX's president of entertainment, Peter Liguori, would like the investigation to end by the start of auditions, Aug. 18, "I don't want to impose any of our production timetable on it," he said.

ROBERT'S NEW LOOK
Sopranos fans will see a different A.J. when the long-awaited sixth season premieres next March. Robert Iler, who plays Tony Soprano's long-suffering son on the HBO hit, continues to stay slim while growing out his hair. "I was lazy," the 20-year-old actor says about letting his locks grow long. "When David [creator Chase] saw it at the Emmys he said, 'Look, do me a favor, don't cut your hair.' " The 5'8" Iler hasn't been lazy about staying in shape. At 17, he weighed 180 lbs. before going on the Atkins diet and shedding 35 lbs. Regular workouts as well as skateboarding and basketball have helped him keep it off, and he plans to purchase a treadmill soon. "I ate everything," Iler says about his old lifestyle. "A lot of pizza. On-set there's just bags of chips and boxes of cookies. Now I love chicken, that's like all I eat." Positive feedback is helping him stay motivated. "A lot of people are saying I look older and better," he says. "It's good to hear. That's another thing that will definitely keep me working out and not getting out of shape again."

CATCHPHRASE of the WEEK

Jump the Couch
The defining moment when you know someone has gone off the deep end. Inspired by Tom Cruise's behavior on Oprah. Sample usage: "My new boyfriend Benny...jumped the couch and started rubbing spicy brown mustard on his body at my family reunion." (Source: www.urbandictionary.com)

Married Life
Newlywed Sandra Bullock seems to be enjoying married life—even if the honeymoon phase has ended. The actress and her husband, Jesse James—who ate their first lunch as husband and wife at a local McDonald's—have mostly kept a low profile in their Austin neighborhood, though they were spotted at a New Mexico gas station (top right) 10 days after their July 16 wedding. On Aug. 2 the actress pitched in at the grand opening of her sister's Vermont bakery, Gesine's Confectionary, serving macaroons, scones and muffins to customers (bottom right). Will Bullock work the counter again? "Only," she says, "when I need the money."

POP QUIZ

The Dukes of Hazzard's
Burt Reynolds

A devilish charm makes legendary action star Burt Reynolds a natural in the field of comedy too. Which is why he's happy to portray Boss Hogg in the film version of The Dukes of Hazzard. And why he believes the film will be a hit. "It is a time now when people want to see these feel-good pictures," Reynolds, 69, told Scoop.

We take it you enjoyed filming Dukes of Hazzard.

I did. Especially when I was working with Willie Nelson. Had I been born gay, that man would have saved me $20 million.

Is there any upside to growing older?

The only advantage of being old—and this is the only advantage—is that people think you are sage.

Did your younger co-stars, like Johnny Knoxville, treat you with respect?
I think you have to earn respect with the new generation. But yeah, I have been pleasantly surprised. A lot of them want to talk to me about Deliverance or whatever, some film that affected them.

In your younger days, you did many of your own stunts. Was it worth it?

I can point to my knee and say, The Longest Yard, and that's okay. But then there's my splenectomy—which I got doing a really lousy movie. You don't mind having a splenectomy for Deliverance, but not for Operation CIA. I have had 40-some bones broken making pictures.

So why did you continue doing stunts? I thought it was more realistic when you didn't have to cut away. Audiences are so sophisticated; they can always tell if it is a double.

What's the secret to surviving a bad film?

I always had the attitude that once a disaster is over, it's over. I mean, you can't have three in a row. But you can have one. America is the most forgiving country in the world. They even let you have one murder in this country and still have a career.

Has anyone approached you about a reality show?

Of course they have. But I don't want to be the next Bobby Brown. That show is really depressing.

ON THE BLOCK

DAISY'S DEN
PRICE: $3.5 million
PLACE: Los Angeles

TV host Daisy Fuentes has decided 4,408 sq. ft. isn't enough. Fuentes, who launched a clothing line at Kohl's last year, is selling her contemporary Mediterranean-style villa in the Hollywood Hills for a bigger house. The two-acre spread she's selling boasts city views, three bedrooms and a master suite with a spa tub.

MORE ON: Julia Roberts

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