Scoop

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

originally published 12/15/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

Queen-Size for a Day

Melana of Average Joe plays the heavy

Courteney Cox Arquette did it on Friends. Gwyneth Paltrow agreed to it for Shallow Hal. Now Melana Scantlin, resident babe on Average Joe, is the latest svelte celebrity to create an alter ego by donning a fat suit. Scantlin padded up to play the role of her cousin Danielle to fool her suitors, whose reactions were captured on camera. "It's funny on Friends and in Shallow Hal" says Scantlin, 26, "but our situation wasn't as funny, because we were getting real responses to a real person." Cruel comments from one contestant led Melana to banish him as a finalist. But it was the way she was treated in public that surprised her most. "People wouldn't make eye contact with me," she says. "I was very uncomfortable."

It took a four-member crew three hours to transform the former Miss Missouri, who normally wears a size 2, by adding prosthetics to her face and fitting her into a Lycra bodysuit rounded out with pillows and bags of birdseed. Says Melana: "You really start to feel for people with major weight problems."

ZORA GETS SKINNY
One reality-show beauty not packing on the pounds—fake or otherwise—is Joe Millionaire's Zora Andrich. In fact she's more slender than ever. It's been 10 months since Andrich won $500,000 after being picked by Evan Marriott during the show's blockbuster first-season finale. Though the relationship was short-lived, Andrich looks none the worse for it: She has shed 17 lbs. and is working as a spokeswoman for NutriSystem, a weight-loss program. But she never needed to slim down in the first place, did she? "I always had that extra nagging 15-20 lbs.," says Andrich, 31. "It was always something I wanted to do." Though she doesn't mind disclosing her weight, Andrich declines to say whether she's dating.

Russell's Night on the Town
Just because Russell Crowe is looking forward to becoming a dad in January with wife Danielle doesn't mean he has turned into Ward Cleaver. After attending the German premiere of his movie Master and Commander, Crowe went to a trendy Hamburg strip club, Dollhouse, with more than a dozen friends. Unaccompanied by Danielle, 33, the father-to-be enjoyed the stage show until a photographer from the German newspaper Bild snapped his picture. Four Crowe bodyguards swung into action, asking the photographer to hand over the disk in his digital camera. When the photographer refused, "they threatened him," says Thomas Stutzky, Marketing and Event Director for the club. Police were called in to calm the situation. The next day lawyers for Crowe, 39, reportedly tried to stop publication of the pix but failed. Some wonder what all the fuss is about. "[The Nov. 21 incident] was beaten out of proportion," say: Crowe's publicist Wendy Day. "Danielle said to me that if she had been in Hamburg with Russell, then of course she would have gone [to the club] too."

JONNY ROTTEN
During the Nov. 27 episode of Survivor: Pearl Islands, a close friend visited Jon "Fairplay" Dalton and broke the sad news: Dalton's elderly grandmother Jean Cooke had died. Fellow contestants felt so badly for Dalton, 29, they let him win a reward challenge. Only one problem: Cooke is alive and well. Turns out that before taping began Dalton and his friend, Dan Fields, concocted the lie to elicit sympathy from opponents. "Jon said to me, 'I'm going to be the biggest ass ever on this show and win a million dollars doing it,' " recalls Fields. Says Survivor host Jeff Probst. "Jon has solidified his spot in the Survivor Villain Hall of Fame." Turns out it's not the first time Dalton's been naughty. Scoop discovered that he was convicted of a felony marijuana charge in the mid-'90s. A DUI arrest last February was previously reported.

Rent a Star for the Holidays
Sure it's fun watching Fred from accounting hit on the boss's wife. But Bette Midler singing Christmas carols would spice up that holiday party too. Plenty of celebs are willing to perform at your home or office—for the right price and, in some cases, a place to sleep. (After a gig at a private home this year, Bryan Adams crashed on the couch.) Scoop asked Steve Einzig, who runs a celeb-booking firm, the going rates for private shows.

Bette Midler
Yours for $750,000 to $1 million

Celebrity Price List

Rod Stewart: $500,000
Harry Connick Jr.: $350,000
Donna Summer: $200,000
Chris Rock: $200,000
Lionel Richie: $200,000
Bill Cosby: $150,000
Beach Boys: $100,000-$150,000
Sugar Ray: $100,000

Thanks for Sharing
If you thought you already knew every detail about the Osbournes' private lives, you were...wrong! Ozzy just told Britain's Daily Mirror he is sexually abused as a child, and Sharon admits in couple's new book, Ordinary People, that she slept with Ozzy's guitarist, Blizird of Ozz tour member Randy Rhoads, who died in 1982 at age 25 in a plane crash. That family really ought to learn to open up a little.

THE FUR FLIES AT CAT
Is the best show on Broadway the one going on backstage at Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? Ned Beatty, who plays Big Daddy in the revival, recently dissed his costars in The New York Times. "Ashley Judd is a sweetie, and yet she doesn't have a whole lot of tools," he said. And Jason Patric? "He's gotten better ail the time," Beatty offered, "but his is a different journey." According to a source [criticizing a fellow performer] simply doesn't happen." Judd and Patric reportedly responded to the put-downs by giving Beatty the silent treatment for two days. Asked to comment on the offstage drama, a rep for the show said, "I really don't know whether they did speak or did not speak." But producer Bill Kenwright praised Judd and Patric's talents as "unquestionable," and said that Beatty's remarks were uncalled for. So far Beatty hasn't publicly apologized, although he reportedly did so in private; his costars have issued no statements.

POP QUIZ

James Caan
James Caan, veteran of some 70 films (including, most recently, Elf), plays surveillance chief "Big Ed" Deline on NBC's Las Vegas. Caan, 63, spoke with Scoop about his forays—fictional and real—into Sin City.

Has Las Vegas been good to you?

So far it's okay—if I don't start gambling my salary. I'm not very good at it.

You like to hit the tables?

I was a huge gambler.

Lose much?

Everything is relative. The guy who is betting $20 and it's his last $20, he's betting an awful lot. When I bet, I bet a lot more than I could afford.

Favorite game?

I'll play blackjack. I also like to bet on football.

Is it true the only casino game where players have a fair shot is blackjack?

No, listen. There is no such thing as a fair shot, but the odds are smaller against you in blackjack.

What helped prepare you to play Big Ed in Las Vegas?

I was very friendly in the old days with the guys who owned the casinos. It wasn't so corporate. Today it's all computerized.

Does that take most of the fun out of it?

No, not really. But years ago you'd get the pencil, you'd go eat and sign for everything, your room was comped. It was, you know, real baloney. It just made you play.

Your TV show is doing comparatively well, while so many new series have tanked this season.

It's doing great in one of the worst time slots, opposite Monday Night Football and Raymond. We'll work on getting it better. I think the stories can have more substance; now you have all these beautiful girls. Some of the bigwigs want more T&A and I want less.

Less?
Sure. Vegas is a circus to start with, and you don't need to hang elephants and giraffes off the walls, they're there.

ON THE BLOCK

LANCE'S LAIR
PRICE: $1.45 million
PLACE: Orlando

SPECS: 'N Sync's Lance Bass is saying bye, bye, bye to Orlando, where the boy band began, and selling his French provincial-style home there. With views of Lake Tibet, the 5,851-sq.-ft, six-bedroom nest is equipped with such pop star perks as a game room, heated pool and state-of-the-art sound system. Bass, 24, is moving to a house he recently purchased in the Beverly Hills area.

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