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updated 10/13/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/13/2003 01:00AM

Madonna's Excellent Adventure

What does the star do when she comes to New York for a visit? What doesn't she do?

A religious celebration, a children's book party, a lawsuit. In other words, just another short passage of time in the event-filled life of Madonna. The Material Mom spent four busy days in New York City last weekend. A recap:

Sept. 26-28
Madonna joins 3,000 other Kabbalah devotees to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Jeweler Neil Lane, who was at the event, says the crowd "sent light and love out to alter their consciousness." Also getting spiritual were the star's children Lourdes, 6, and Rocco, 3, and husband Guy Ritchie.

Sept. 29
Madonna reads from her new children's book The English Roses at a bookstore in Rockefeller Center. "There was a lot of laughing," recalls a guest.

Sept. 29
News surfaces of a lawsuit filed by the son of the late French fashion photographer Guy Bourdin, which alleges the singer used images in her video "Hollywood" that are, the suit says, "substantially derived from the Bourdin works." Her rep responds, "Madonna has not been served, and she can't comment on it."

Undressing for a Cause

Clothes Off Our Back celebrity organizers Jane Kaczmarek and Bradley Whitford got fellow stars to donate red-carpet attire they wore to awards shows to be auctioned off online, with proceeds going to charity. An added bonus: Some outfits won't be dry-cleaned! What can buyers hope for? A lipstick stain? A duck-sauce smudge? Says Kaczmarek: "It could end up being a very personal purchase." Here's what some clothes were fetching at press time (the auction ends Oct. 1).

Jennifer Aniston
Vintage Halston
$8,300

Courteney Cox Arquette Arquette
Carolina Herrera Size 2
$1,875

Jeri Ryan
J. Mendel Size 4
$1,494

Edie Falco
Vera Wang Size 6
$1,725

Jennifer Garner
Ralph Lauren Size 6
$3,050

REALITY CHECK

Bachelor Bob Rocks

The Bachelor's Bob Guiney may be on the fast track to a rock star's lifestyle. He's surrounded by women (and, perhaps, wild women: Warner Bros. Entertainment is being sued by a homeowner who claims the house, which the producers rented, was trashed during the filming; Warner had no comment). He's putting out a CD, 3 Sides (available Oct. 7 on Amazon.com), which mixes new songs with material he'd previously written with his old band Fat Amy. And he just caught a Radiohead concert in L.A., where he met Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz. Was there any talk of a Guiney-Timberlake power ballad? Not exactly. Says Guiney, 32: "I don't think they recognized me." No matter: He's been asked by Bachelorette Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter to sing at their wedding.

COLIN'S HIGH TIMES

During a recent interview with the British magazine Radio Times, Colin Farrell chatted amicably over lunch about fame, love, family and acting. Eventually—perhaps it was the third bottle of wine talking—the conversation turned to his wild past, which, almost unbelievably, makes his wild present seem tame by comparison. Farrell recounted how, in the '90s, a psychiatrist suggested he write down all the drugs and alcohol he consumed during a typical week. The resultant list (see box) is staggering. Farrell also spoke of what lengths he used to go to to feed his habits, including taking embarrassing commercial jobs to pay for drugs. Says his rep: "I'm sure whatever he said at the time he meant at the time."

FARRELL'S WEEKLY INTAKE
(ca. the'90s)

20 Ecstasy tabs
4 grams of coke
6 grams of speed
½ oz. of hash
3 bottles of Jack Daniel's
12 bottles of red wine
60 pints of beer
280 cigarettes

Combs: Huff Daddy

Now that Sean "P. Diddy" Combs has announced plans to enter the 26.2-mile New York City Marathon on Nov. 2, one might ask, how is the hip-hop mogul training? "I've cut back on expensive partying," Combs, 33, told reporters at a Manhattan press conference announcing the run. "I've got it down to once a week." He has also hired a personal trainer, admitting that "I was putting on some pounds." Combs hopes to raise $1 million for children's charities and New York City public schools through individual and corporate sponsorship of his effort, which he is calling "Diddy Runs the City."

DAVE'S WILD KINGDOM

David Letterman faced off against an intimidating predator recently. No, Cher didn't return to his show. While at his cabin in Montana the weekend of Sept. 20, the late-night host awoke to find a 350-lb. black bear in his kitchen, munching on bananas, cake frosting and hot dog buns. Brandon Lightner, who does occasional work for Letterman on the ranch, eventually got the animal to skedaddle by setting off firecrackers. State park officials figured out a more permanent solution the following week when they trapped the bear as he tried to return to Letterman's property. After tagging the critter with a radio collar, they released him on the other side of the Continental Divide.

POP QUIZ

Sarah Ferguson

Little Red, Sarah Ferguson's seventh children's book, tells the story of a spunky redheaded girl who helps her friends face their fears. The Duchess of York, 43, drew on her own childhood experiences for inspiration.

How does Little Red differ from your previous kids' books?

I've changed a lot as a writer. In the last few years I've had to look at the fears of the little girl I was at 12, a girl who never addressed the fact that her mother went off to Argentina and who from then on felt abandoned, missing, wanting.

Did you ever discuss this with your mother?

No. She was so upset with fighting with Dad in order to get the divorce that she never discussed why she left. I thought she left because on that day I had cut my hair. Mom never wanted me to cut my hair because it was red curly locks.

How did that experience affect you later on?

I've lived with being a compulsive eater since then, which is why I had the weight problem. I ate in order to compensate for the fear and pain and hurt. When I write my children's books now, I go back to the little girl who didn't face those fears. I covered her up.

How does that come through in your writing?

In Little Red [the heroine] hears a big noise and it's frightening. But she says, if we go and see what the noise is, maybe it's not so bad. A parent will read this and say, yes, maybe I should look at my fears.

You are also a spokeswoman for Kodak's new high-definition film. You do photography. What kind?

I started taking pictures when [daughter] Beatrice was born [in 1988]. The photographs I take are very different. What most people see as a mountain, I'll see as a mother holding her arms out.

ON THE BLOCK

WOODY'S NEW YORK STORIES

PLACE: Manhattan
PRICE: $27 million
SPECS: Woody Allen's five-story townhouse, built in 1931, features a gym, six bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, wood-burning fireplaces and a 1,200-sq.-ft. garden. He paid $17.9 million for it in 1999. "It's among the five great single-family homes on the Upper East Side," says real estate agent Jed Garfield.

MORE ON: Madonna

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