Insider

updated 11/03/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/03/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

HIGH ROLLERS
Visitors to Vegas last weekend had plenty of opportunities to catch the Ben & Jen Show. After checking into the Palms Casino Resort on Friday, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez dined on the patio of the Paris Casino's Mon Ami Gabi steak-house. The next day, gambling man Affleck played in the Celebrity Poker Showdown, a made-for-TV event featuring Affleck, David Schwimmer and others playing cards for charity. (The show airs Dec. 2 on Bravo.) Lopez kept a close eye on the action from the stands. "She kept calling out poker terms. She seemed really into it," says Queer Eye's Jai Rodriguez, who was sitting nearby. Ben was back at the tables on Sunday—no cameras this time—to play high-stakes blackjack, with Lopez by his side. As for reports that the couple may soon elope, Affleck's rep, Ken Sunshine, says, "I won't dignify that with a response."

TOLERABLE CRUELTY
On Oct. 11 George Clooney took a break from K Street, the politically themed HBO series he is coproducing, and stopped in at Perry's restaurant in Washington, D.C., for sushi with a few friends, including actor Richard Kind (Spin City). Clooney privately told the chef to overload Kind's sushi pieces with extra wasabi. "The guy was taking bite after bite," says a restaurant source. "His mouth got burned." According to the insider, Clooney had lost a bet in a basketball game and had to pick up the check, so "he was getting even."

THE SHOW GOES ON
It was an emotional day when the cast of Eight Simple Rules returned Oct. 20 to begin working on their first episode since John Ritter's death. The one-hour special, to be taped without an audience and airing Nov. 4, deals with the passing of Ritter's character, Paul Hennessy. (James Garner and Suzanne Pleshette have joined the cast as the parents of Katey Sagal.) According to Rules creator Tracy Gamble, the first table read of the script was especially tough for Kaley Cuoco, who plays oldest daughter Bridget. "She couldn't get started," says Gamble. "People were crying and hugging." Ritter's dressing room has been cleaned out, but his name remains on the door. "We're kind of keeping it empty for a while because it was his place," Gamble says. "You see the cast and crew just go in and visit. It's hard."

LA DOLCE VITA
Moore and Bruce Willis continue to prove that they're the friendliest of exes. The former power couple showed up at L.A. hot spot Dolce Enoteca Oct. 8 to have dinner with their three daughters in a private dining room. And just to show that everyone really does get along, Moore's boyfriend Ashton Kutcher (who's an investor in the restaurant) joined the group about an hour later. An observer says Kutcher "seemed very close to the girls. He even took one of them to the bathroom and waited [outside] for her until she was done." Later Elton John, who was dining with partner David Furnish in a corner booth, popped over to say hi to the clan.

FAST TAKES

After taking a flight together from Oakland, American Idol host RYAN SEACREST and actress TIFFANI THIESSEN were spotted hugging and kissing at the Burbank airport before saying good-night. Seacrest's rep will only say the two "have been friends for years."...

BRAD PITT settled in at home last Sunday with JENNIFER ANISTON to watch a print of Sylvia, starring Brad's ex-girlfriend GWYNETH PALTROW....

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER and wife MARIA SHRIVER took their three youngest children out for a barbecue chicken lunch Oct. 20 in L.A. Afterwards, while the kids went to a toy store with state service agents, the couple kissed and snuggled at their table.

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