Scoop

updated 09/13/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/13/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Why I Bit My Bodyguard
by Russell Crowe

I do wish I could say, as I am usually able, that it is all just hogswallop, but yes, Spud and I had a push around after work on a Friday night about a month ago....
I thought he was accusing me specifically of something and I took offence to it. It doesn't surprise me that I'm overly sensitive to gossip and speculation and heartily sick of other people's "perceptions."...
We cleared the air between us the next day, called each other a few ripe names, had a hug and got on with the job.

HE BITES, HE WRITES
Taking square aim at some goofy gossip, actor Russell Crowe responds with an open letter

Appearances aside, few actors bite; fewer still bite and write. Iconoclast Russell Crowe is one. A few weeks ago, some papers reported that Crowe got into a tussle in Toronto, where he's filming The Cinderella Man, and bit a man's ear. In response, Crowe and the man in question—his bodyguard Mark "Spud" Carroll—wrote Australia's Sunday Telegraph to set the record straight. First of all, Carroll clarified, Crowe bit his chest, not his ear. More to the point, both men blamed the tussle on a misunderstanding: Crowe was talking to a woman on the set, Carroll told him some of the cast and crew might think he was flirting, and Crowe felt accused. Fists flew. They hashed it out and made up the next day. "Russell will hate me saying this," wrote Carroll (far right), "but I would take a bullet for this bloke."

I'd Take a Bullet for This Bloke
by Mark "Spud" Carroll

Russell Crowe did not bite my ear....
He did take a nip at my chest—I was trying to smother him at the time, so I can understand the move...
He's not a big bloke and he certainly isn't strong in a weight-lifting sense....
As for calling it a fight, believe me, we have done much more damage to each other playing touch footy.

ALL-STAR REUNION
Outplay: Survivors Unite

They may have backstabbed each other in the past, but the Survivor contestants reached common ground recently when asked, Who would win a battle between Survivor and The Apprentice? "Oh my gosh, by far Survivor people would kill them," says Rupert Boneham. Adds Jenna Morasca: "I mean, Omarosa? They're girlie girls." That match is only a reality TV fantasy waiting to happen. But 13 Survivors did take on professional soccer players for two charity games in Lancaster, Pa., on Aug. 27 to benefit Grassroot Soccer, a foundation raising awareness of HIV/AIDS in Africa, which Survivor: Africa winner Ethan Zohn supports. The Survivor team tied the pros in both games. "They were being gentle on us," says Boneham. Adds Amber Brkich: "You can see how out of shape we are. But we're still very competitive." And they're still a draw. The matches, said an event rep, attracted about 3,000 fans.

As for televised competitions, Morasca has an idea she would like to pitch the networks. "We should do dodgeball, Survivor vs. Apprentice," Morasca says. "How good would that be?"

What's Up With Allegra?

Allegra Beck, the daughter of Donatella Versace, who inherited 50 percent of her late uncle Gianni's fashion empire when she turned 18 earlier this summer, looked shockingly thin while in London on Aug. 29. Reps for the Versace family declined any comment. The teenager, who is interested in acting, reportedly plans to study at Brown University this fall.

GOP vs. MTV: Party Favors

So who do you want to be, a Republican or a rock star? If you're in it for the gift bags, opt for the latter: Delegates and guests at the Republican National Convention in New York City received gift packs valued at around $100; at the MTV Video Music Awards, each celeb walked off with a swag bag worth about $16,000. A look at the dueling freebies:

REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION

Flashlight key chain
Digital pedometer
Commemorative box of Kraft macaroni and cheese
$5 ESPN Zone game card
One-week gym membership
New York City calendar
Statue of Liberty pin
Disposable camera
Ellis Island DVD
Listerine
PocketPaks
Leadership, a book by Rudy Giuliani
MetroCard for bus and subway rides
Dunkin' Donuts coffee
$100

VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS

Diamond charm bracelet
Bliss skin-care products
Mini iPod
Kate Spade iPod case
Pink-sapphire pendant
Three-month gym membership
Versace sunglasses
Skateboard
Swiss Legend watch
Givenchy perfume
Custom suitcase
Crystal sandals
The South Beach Diet, autographed
Pucci cosmetic case
$16,000

Sandra on the Stand

On Aug. 31, in a trial about her $6.5 million home in Austin (she claims it's now "unlivable and unsafe"), Sandra Bullock gave her job history. "I worked as a waitress, a cleaning woman, a coat-check girl, a cashier, a clerk," she said. "Ever do any exotic dancing?" asked her lawyer. "Not that I like to tell people about," she replied.

Tom's French Connection

Tom Cruise, international diplomat? At his request, the 42-year-old actor met with French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on Aug. 30 for lunch. "Tom was interested in Mr. Sarkozy's political career as a self-made man," says Sarkozy's spokesperson. Cruise and Sarkozy, who has expressed interest in running for president of France in 2007, discussed elections in France and the U.S., and French-American relations.

POP QUIZ
Reese Witherspoon

In Vanity Fair, she plays ruthless 19th-century social climber Becky Sharp. Offscreen, Witherspoon, 28, has kept busy as a working mother to Ava, 5, and Deacon, 11 months. The sleep-deprived actress sat down with PEOPLE senior editor and CBS Early Show contributor Jess Cagle.

Becky Sharp is a controversial character. What's your take on her?
I see her as a really lonely, sad woman. She was abandoned as a child. And she had to, from the time she was 10, scrub floors to get ahead. I really related to the kinds of things that lifestyle can do to you.

Because of all the years you spent scrubbing floors?
[laughs] Yeah. You know, all the time I did in prison.

How did you get back into shape after you [and husband Ryan Phillippe, 30] had Deacon?
I've been working out two and three hours a day. Somewhere they wrote that I drank diet drinks and that's how I lost all my weight. I thought that was so irresponsible, to tell women out there that I lost all my baby weight drinking some sort of special diet drink.

When you see your paycheck for a small film like Vanity Fair, do you think, Ooh, I wish I'd done Legally Blonde 3?
[laughs] What paycheck? No, it's fine. How much money do you need? I feel like doing both kinds of movies. It all evens itself out.

How has having kids changed you?
I'm starting to relax a little bit. Your kid could be hanging off a ceiling fan at the restaurant and you have to just take it all in stride, clean up the mess and move on.

Your next role will be as June Carter Cash [in an upcoming Johnny Cash biopic]. What drew you to her?
I grew up in Nashville, the home of country music. I always wanted to be a country singer. I remember being on the playground and singing "Nine to Five" and telling everybody I was going to be the next Dolly Parton.

ON THE BLOCK

BRACCO'S BUNGALOW
PRICE $4.4 million
PLACE Palisades, N.Y.
SPECS The Sopranos' Lorraine Bracco is selling her three-bedroom home in the leafy Sneden's Landing area to move to New York City. Set on a wooded two acres next to the Hudson River, it includes a private deck and a terraced garden. "It's really beautiful," says Bracco. "I hope I don't regret this."

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