updated 12/26/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 12/26/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST
After years of friendship and a public courtship, country superstars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood finally find their happily ever after with a private wedding
Garth Brooks's now legendary proposal to Trisha Yearwood last May—he dropped to his knee in front of 7,000 screaming fans at an unveiling of a statue of himself at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, Calif.—was high on romance, and highly public. And the marriage itself? A very private family affair, held on Dec. 10 in the couple's Owasso, Okla., home. Few noticed any unusual traffic or commotion near the 1,500-acre compound. The only indication that a wedding was in the works came a day earlier when the two filed for a marriage license. "I envision something intimate," Yearwood told PEOPLE in September. A publicist for Brooks wouldn't reveal any details, but noted, "They said it is the perfect Christmas gift to each other and they couldn't be happier."
The union of the two country powerhouses (Yearwood, 41, has three Grammys; Brooks, 43, has two) was years in the making. They met in the late '80s as demo singers in Nashville and eventually recorded several songs together, but they were both spoken for. Then, in 2000, Yearwood's marriage to Mavericks bassist Robert Reynolds ended after five years (she was previously married to musician Christopher Latham). One year later, Brooks's 15-year marriage to Sandy (with whom he has three daughters: Taylor, 13, August, 11, and Allie, 9) also collapsed. In 2002 the couple cautiously went public with their romance—their first PDA was holding hands at a memorial service for Nashville songwriter Harlan Howard. A music executive close to Brooks said of the couple, "He has been in love with her for years."
And now? "Garth and Trisha are great friends and that's so important in a marriage," said longtime pal Reba McEntire. "They're going to have a blast at home and at work." Adds video director Jon Small: "Every time I am with Garth, he talks about 'The Queen'—that's his words—he lights up. The Queen seems to make him really, really happy. I've actually never seen him have that great glow before. They're like two little kids, they just play around a lot."
Honeymoon plans may have to wait: Yearwood, up for two Grammy Awards in February for her album Jasper County, played a charity gig in Nashville just three nights after saying "I do." And although Brooks does sing backup on her song "Georgia Rain," the newlyweds have not committed to recording a duet album together—despite a wish Yearwood told Season magazine four years ago. "It would be nice and I think it makes sense. Our voices are so natural together."
Matt & Luciana: City Hall Surprise
Matt Damon looked particularly pleased Dec. 9 while filming The Good Shepherd in Yonkers, N.Y. "He's always smiling," said a crew member. "But today, he looked more happy than usual." No surprise: It was, after all, his wedding day. At 9 that morning, the actor and Luciana Bozan, 30, his girlfriend of about two years, pulled off a top-secret wedding at Manhattan's City Hall—attended by Bozan's 7-year-old daughter, Alexia, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "They were thrilled," said the mayor. Later that afternoon, Damon, 35—sporting a silver-colored wedding band—left the couple's Greenwich Village apartment for work, where he filmed until 2 a.m. before announcing his surprise marriage to the crew. The newlyweds left for London—where Damon will continue filming the CIA thriller—the next day. "I guess we'll have our honeymoon there," Damon told a fan. The couple will have even more reason to celebrate: Bozan is three months pregnant. "They are so happy," says a friend close to the couple. And at a recent press junket Damon said he's "longed for" fatherhood. "But I've got to learn how to be a good disciplinarian, 'cause I'm a professional uncle right now."
It's official. Matt Hoover and Suzy Preston, who lost a combined 252 lbs. while appearing on NBC's The Biggest Loser, are a couple. Says Hoover, a former college wrestling coach: "She is awesome." Even more awesome: Hoover lost more (157 lbs.—he got down to 182) than Preston's weight at the finale (132 lbs., down from 227). The sparks began during a May taping when Preston, 29, a hairdresser, gave Hoover, also 29, a trim. "I saw him at his worst," says Preston. "And he saw me at my worst. He saw me sweating and passing gas." Still, something clicked. They separated when taping ended June 17, per rules of the show, and didn't see each other again until the Nov. 29 live finale in L.A. The heat remained on. "Everybody thought I was on speed," says Preston, "but it was the excitement of seeing Matt again."
The two have been getting on so well since then that Hoover, from Iowa, is contemplating moving closer to Preston, who lives in Washington state. "We've been through something no one else has experienced together," he says. "We don't know what the future holds, but I think it's going to be great."
DANNI: SOLE SURVIVOR
She's a sports-radio host, a Kansas City Chiefs fanatic and an athlete, but Danni Boatwright, 30, relied on another strength to win Survivor: Guatemala. "I think pageants played a huge role," the former Miss Kansas tells Scoop. "You learn how to be very diplomatic." But her quiet poise as the votes were read on the live finale Dec. 11 came from something else. "I had watched the Chiefs game backstage, and we had two seconds left and a chance to tie it but we didn't. So actually, I was a little bit grumpy!" As for her shrinking frame, the marathon runner says she was more than a little bit hungry in the jungle: "I ate bugs all the time." Back on an insect-free diet (and, at 134 lbs., 30 lbs. heavier than when the show ended), the $1 million winner looks forward to "blessing my family financially."
The Single Life
The Dec. 7 breakup of Nicole Richie and DJ AM may have been "mutual"—as her rep insists—but clearly it has taken its toll. Although the engaged pair were spotted looking lovey-dovey while Christmas-tree shopping just three days before the split, at dinner the following night at La Scala in Beverly Hills "they looked absolutely miserable," said one onlooker. On Dec. 8, AM, 32, "was in a bad mood. He seemed pretty distracted," said a friend who watched him spin tunes at New York hot spot Marquee. Richie, 24, briefly stopped by the Beverly Hills Hotel Dec. 11 with friends including Mischa Barton. "She didn't look her normal put-together self," said an acquaintance. "Behind her sunglasses you could see her eyes were rimmed with mascara."
GOLDEN GLOBE PICKS
Okay, they're still just Golden Globe nominees. But among those already considered winners, even before the 63rd annual awards show takes place on Jan. 16, are:
•Eva Longoria. After last year's snub, she finally joins fellow Housewives Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross and Felicity Huffman as a nominee.
•George Clooney. Three nominations. Best supporting actor (Syriana), best director (Good Night, and Good Luck.) and best screenplay (Good Night, and Good Luck.).
•Gay cowboys. Brokeback Mountain garnered seven nominations, including Heath Ledger as best actor.
Actor Ken Watanabe (Memoirs of a Geisha), 46, recently wed Japanese actress Kaho Minami, 41. This is the second marriage for both.
The ongoing custody battle between Kim Basinger, 52, and ex-husband Alec Baldwin, 47, over 10-year-old daughter Ireland appears close to settlement. Following a closed Dec. 13 court hearing in L.A., lawyers for both sides expressed optimism. "I'm hoping this will be the end of it," says Basinger's attorney Neal Hersh. Says Baldwin's lawyer Vicki Greene: "I'm very pleased with the judge's thoroughness."
Convicted murderer Stanley "Tookie" Williams, 51, the cofounder of the notorious L.A. gang the Crips, died by lethal injection Dec. 13 at California's San Quentin state prison. Williams's plight sparked heated debates about capital punishment and restitution behind bars (PEOPLE, Dec. 12, 2005). He spent the past 24 years condemning thug life and writing antigang children's books.
After a bitter public battle, Lindsay Lohan's parents, Dina, 43, and Michael, 45, reached a confidential divorce settlement Dec. 12 in New York. They were married 20 years. "Dina and the children [Lindsay, 19, Michael, 18, Ali,12, and Dakota, 9] are delighted that this chapter in their lives is finally over," her attorney Robert S. Cohen told PEOPLE. Michael, who is currently serving more than a year in prison for offenses including driving while impaired, said through his lawyer, "I'm happy with the agreement and look forward to the opportunity to rebuild my relationships with my children."
FROM TV TO JAIL
Actor Lillo Brancato played a fledgling mobster on The Sopranos. On Dec. 10, prosecutors say, he was part of a real-life crime: a botched burglary and gunfight resulting in the death of off-duty New York City police officer Daniel Enchautegui. Police said Brancato, 29, who has a history of drug arrests, and an accomplice broke into a Bronx apartment next door to the officer's home. Enchautegui surprised them and was mortally wounded. Brancato (who was hit twice) was in fair condition and charged with second-degree murder and burglary. Says Ellen Chenoweth, who cast Brancato in 1993's A Bronx Tale: "He's one of those kids that could've gone either way, just like his character."
Colin Farrell gets help
On Dec. 12 a rep for Colin Farrell, 29, reported that the Irish actor checked himself into an undisclosed treatment center for exhaustion and addiction to prescription medication, which he had been taking for a back injury. Farrell was recently in Uruguay with costar Jamie Foxx filming Miami Vice, due out next summer. His rep declined further comment.
At 12, Ali Lohan has already put three careers in gear. She works for Ford Models, she sings (her holiday tune, out now, is "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree") and she acts—she plays big sister Lindsay Lohan in "Confessions of a Broken Heart," Lindsay's video. The little Lohan spent an afternoon with Scoop discussing her professional options.
Why are you going into showbiz?
I love acting, and it's just really fun to do.
Have you performed in school plays?
We really don't have school plays. I have theater arts this year.
Do the kids in school ask you about Lindsay?
They don't really care. We just talk about normal stuff, like normal kids do.
Getting good grades?
Last year I got straight A's. This year I get A's and B's.
Any holiday plans?
I love Christmas, because my birthday [Dec. 22] is near Christmas and I get twice as many presents.
Your mother tells us you want a paparazzi camera for Christmas. We hear you like to poke your head out and smile for the paparazzi. True?
Yeah, it's fun. I like doing it.
Has Lindsay given you advice about dealing with the press?
She said that if they ask you something negative, don't talk about it, ignore it and talk about something else.
Has she ever given you advice on dating?
I kind of feel embarrassed asking her about that.
Do you have a boyfriend?
No. I have boys who are friends, but I'm kinda too young to have a boyfriend.
How close are you with your sister?
She's one of my best friends. I miss her a lot when she's not home, so I call her and talk to her every day.
Eminem's New Vows?
Guess who's back? Eminem, 33, and his ex-wife, Kim Mathers, 30. Detroit's preeminent musician announced on local station WKQI Dec. 6 that he and Mathers have "reconciled and are probably going to remarry." Considering he accused his wife of cheating back in 2000 and rapped about wanting to cut her up in the song "Kim" ("You were supposed to love me. Now bleed..."), that's some turnaround. They married in 1998 and divorced in 2001. A source close to the rapper was surprised to hear the news, though she said the two have been friendly recently. During the radio interview, Eminem referred to his ex as "my wife, Kim."