Star Tracks

updated 12/15/2003 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/15/2003 01:00AM

Third Ring Circus

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND, DEC.1
At the world premiere of The Return of the King, the Lord of the Rings cast gets a heroes' welcome from over 100,000 fans in New Zealand, where the fantasy trilogy was shot: Elijah Wood (1) is well-suited for waving, and director Peter Jackson (2) enthuses over the monster turnout. (That huge creature is a Fell Beast.) Viggo Mortensen (3)—sporting the U.N.'s logo—promotes peace, as Liv Tyler and Orlando Bloom (4) get ready for confetti. Sir Ian McKellen (5) thrills fans, while Sean Astin (6) poses with wife Christine and daughter Alexandra, 7.

Previously in the Rings Saga...
In case you've forgotten the plot points of The Two Towers, here's your guide: Hobbits Frodo Baggins (Wood) and Samwise Gamgee (Astin) are headed for Mordor to throw the evil Ring into volcanic Mount Doom and save civilization. They're guided by the troubled Gollum (Andy Serkis), who struggles to suppress his hobbit-cidal tendencies. Elf princess Arwen (Tyler) is preparing to evacuate Middle Earth with her people; meanwhile, her heartbroken lover Aragorn (Mortensen) has vanquished the Uruk-hai with the aid of elfin archer Legolas (Bloom) and the wizard Gandalf (McKellen). Upshot: The forces of good are ready for a final battle against the diabolical Sauron and his vast army.

My Best Friend's Wedding
LONDON, DEC. 1
Dressed to serve as a bridesmaid for her onscreen pal Jude, Renée Zellweger, lovely in lavender, hikes through the snow with Colin Firth, who plays her boyfriend in their sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.

Cycle Analysis
MALIBU and VANCOUVER, NOV. 28 & 26
Sure they look the part, but can they really ride those things? Yep, George Clooney revs up to take his hog for a spin in Malibu but Halle Berry only simulates riding a Ducati Monster S4 motorcycle during a tow shot for Catwoman.

In the Name of Love
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, NOV. 27-29
As guests of Nelson Mandela for the 46664 AIDS benefit concert (46664 was Mandela's prison number), U2's Bono embraces Oprah Winfrey at the Vergelen wine estate in Somerset West. At the concert two days later, Beyoncé, who performed her hit "Crazy In Love," dons more traditional native garb designed by her mom, Tina Knowles, to greet the human rights leader onstage. Earlier in their trip, the singers help to boost morale at the Baphumelele Children's Home in Khayelitsha.

Fur Weather Friends
NEW YORK CITY, NOV. 25
At a Jay-Z concert at Madison Square Garden, guest performer Mary J. Blige looks warm and fuzzy while belting out four of her own songs, including "Family Affair" and "Not Today." Backstage, rapper Foxy Brown shows some skin while Sean "P. Diddy" Combs demonstrates the art of being a mobile hip-hop mogul.

Doggie Bag
BEVERLY HILLS, NOV. 29
Modeling the latest in maternity Mousketeer-wear, mom-to-be Debra Messing also manages to accessorize with Laila, her Colon de Tulear. The actress's first child with her actor-screenwriter husband, Daniel Zelman, is due next year.

CHECKING IN

DIANE KEATON AND JACK NICHOLSON
LOS ANGELES, NOV. 28
Teaming up for the first time since the 1981 dram"] costars catch up courtside at the Lakers game Are Keaton and Nicholson, whose romantic comedy opens Dec. 12, an item? Says the actress: "I think that's probably not going to happen."

DREW BARRYMORE
LOS ANGELES, NOV. 29
Visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art brings out the tourist in everyone, even the snap-happy Drew. She'll next be seen in 50 First Dates, a romantic comedy with Adam Sandler due Feb. 13.

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND, DEC. 1
What better way to show off your street cred than with a heels-over-head break-dancing routine? After his solo tour, which includes stops in Dublin and London, Timberlake will rejoin his 'N Sync bandmates to record a new CD next year.

NICOLE KIDMAN
MANHATTAN, NOV. 27
The forward-thinking Aussie dresses for warmer weather before catching a plane to Miami to spend Thanksgiving with her sweetie, Lenny Kravitz. (For more dish on how the couple spent the holiday, see page 57.)

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