Scoop

updated 01/19/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/19/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

ROYAL SUSPICION

Just months before she died, Diana expressed fears that Prince Charles was going to kill her.

In his tell-all book, Princess Diana's former butler Paul Burrell wrote that his boss once feared that someone would kill her in a car crash. But he refused to name names. On Jan. 6 Britain's Daily Mirror did it for him—identifying the object of Diana's suspicion as Prince Charles himself.

The Mirror published a letter of Diana's said to have been written 10 months before the Mercedes in which she and boyfriend Dodi Fayed were riding crashed in a Paris tunnel in August 1997. "My husband is planning 'an accident' in my car, brake failure and serious head injury," she wrote, "in order to make the path clear for him to marry." Prince Charles had no comment, but a source at the palace says there is widespread "disbelief and incredulity" at the claim. A friend of Princes William and Harry says both reject the notion completely; Diana's family also discounts the assertion. Says a source: "She was at her lowest ebb at that time." Still, Diana's words have added drama to the questions that continue to swirl around her death more than six years ago. The Royal Household coroner has ordered an inquiry into the Paris crash, with a final report expected in a year.

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ENGAGING:
Katie Holmes & Chris Klein
Can you imagine how cute their kids will be? Katie Holmes, 25, and Chris Klein, 24, got engaged over the holidays. The actors, who met while Holmes was starring as girl-next-door Joey on Dawson's Creek, have been dating for the past four years. Since the series ended in 2003, Holmes has moved from North Carolina, where filming took place, to Los Angeles, where Klein lives. "They're always very warm and close to each other," says Chris Weitz, a friend of the couple's who directed Klein in the American Pie movies. "That's rare to see in [Hollywood]. They have a very good chance of making it work."

SHOPPING AROUND:
Paris Hilton & Nick Carter
Is Paris yearning? Paris Hilton, the 22-year-old star of The Simple Life and a famous video with somewhat lower production values, has recently been engaging in some old-fashioned kissing and nuzzling with Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, 23. The two apparently got together after Hilton signaled her interest, prompting Carter to seek the counsel of fellow bandmember A.J. McLean. " 'Paris Hilton keeps calling me,' " McLean recalls Carter telling him one night at West Hollywood hotspot Chi. His advice to Carter: "Just have fun and enjoy it."

And so he has, by the looks of it. Will it last? While Carter is very private about his love life, including the music-biz girlfriend he lived with in 2000 but refused to name, Hilton is...less shy. And there's one other little problem. "Paris will settle down eventually," says her sister Nicky, 20. "But she just has such a little attention span to concentrate on a relationship."

HEATING UP:
Jessica Alba & Mark Wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg and Jessica Alba spent Dec. 30 cozying up to one another at the hip eatery Nobu in Miami Beach. "They were looking into each other's eyes," says one onlooker. On New Year's Eve, Alba, in a short white dress, and Wahlberg, in a shirt and jeans, rang in 2004 at Miami Beach's Delano Hotel with filet mignon and champagne. Says a source at the hotel: "They are into each other big time." Alba, however, was also seen with another man at the party and on the beach. Oh well. Perhaps the two are just licking each other's wounds: They've both endured fairly recent breakups. Alba, 22, split from her Dark Angel costar Michael Weatherly, 35, last summer; last month Wahlberg, 32, broke up with model Rhea Durham, 25, with whom he has a 4-month-old daughter, Ella Rae.

ALL ABOUT EVA:
Eva Mendes & Matt Damon
Judging from the good time Matt Damon and Eva Mendes had in Las Vegas over the New Year's holiday with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez and a posse of friends, it's no wonder several newspapers declared them an item. But it's not true, says Damon's rep, who adds that Mendes's boyfriend was with her most of the time. Damon "laughed" at the news, says the rep. "He finds it amusing that he is linked with someone new every time he goes out."

At Long Last: Mom's the Word
Talk about anticlimactic. Loose-lipped brother-in-law Alexis Arquette let the cat out of the bag during a taping of The Sharon Osbourne Show three months ago. Since then most media reports have treated it as common knowledge. But now it's finally official: Courteney Cox Arquette is pregnant. The actress and her husband, David Arquette, have confirmed they are expecting.

The couple had a good reason to delay breaking the news: Cox, 39, suffered through several miscarriages and attempts at in vitro fertilization. The parents-to-be must be over the moon: The New York Daily News reported that they even let Alexis move in with them.

ON THE REBOUND
While his estranged wife, Uma Thurman, has found solace in the arms of a new beau—hotelier André Balazs, 46—Ethan Hawke is "sad and depressed," says a source. But not inconsolable. He has been hitting Manhattan nightspots with friends trying to "get him out of a funk," and it seems to be working. Two days before Christmas, Hawke, who had been living in a New York hotel, hit the Manhattan club Viscaya with a sexy brunette. Says manager Marco Ornetti: "He didn't really look lonely."

Michael & the Island of Lost Beauty Queens
That Michael Jackson, so very full of surprises. While the world has been focusing on his legal troubles, he has gone and wrapped a movie role. It's a bit unusual. The film, Miss Cast Away, is about beauty pageant contestants who crash-land on a deserted island, where they discover Noah's Ark. Michael plays—what else?—the omniscient Agent MJ, a benevolent force sent by the Pope in a beam of light, who dispenses wisdom to the stranded.

How did this particular bit of casting come to pass? Jackson sought out director Bryan Michael Stoller in the '80s. "I did a spoof of his Pepsi commercial," says Stoller.

"A Michael lookalike opens a canned drink and it explodes in his face. Michael saw it and got a kick out of it." Alas, Miss Cast Away is not yet available to the moviegoing public. Though the film is almost in the can, it doesn't yet have a distributor, which is hard to believe—since Joe Millionaire's Evan Marriott stars in the flick too!

Meanwhile Jackson, who, a source says, is moving into a rented multimillion-dollar mansion above Coldwater Canyon in Beverly Hills, has another Stoller project: They Cage the Animals at Night, about a boy who lost his childhood. Jackson is set to codirect, but shooting is on hold while he concentrates on his court case.

A WINNING SMILE
He may not have the smoldering looks of, say, Enrique Iglesias, but the guy's got chops. Norway's Kurt Nilsen won top honors at the World Idol singing competition in London that aired New Year's Day—despite the comments of one judge, who said he resembled a Hobbit. Such barbs don't faze Nilsen. "I take talk about my looks as a joke. I'm just myself, there's no glam about [me]," says the former plumber and father of two. "As long as they don't criticize my music, I'm happy." Nilsen, 25, beat out 10 other international Idols, including the odds-on favorite, American Kelly Clarkson. Since chalking up Norway's bestselling single, Nilsen now hopes to translate his win into worldwide success. But don't expect the gap-toothed singer to succumb to a music-industry makeover. Says Nilsen: "I want to keep myself just the way I was a year ago."

Like Model, Like Son
Meet Germany's newest cover boy, Caspar, 11-month-old son of supermodel Claudia Schiffer. The photogenic lad and his mommy—Daddy is film producer Matthew Vaughn, 32—grace the cover of the European mail order catalog Quelle. We can expect more genetically gifted kids from Schiffer, 33. "I want to get pregnant again soon," she recently told a German newspaper.

POP QUIZ

Debra Messing
Will & Grace star Debra Messing, 35, returns to feature films Jan. 16 with the comedy Along Came Polly. She's also pregnant—and happy to talk about the new joy in her life with Scoop.

How far along are you?

I'm in my second trimester. I'm due at the end of spring, after the show wraps, so I'm going to have a summer of mommyhood.

Is it an easy pregnancy?

I don't know that any pregnancy is easy!

What are you enjoying most about being pregnant?

Everything. It is something I have looked forward to my entire life. And it is amazing how the second you find out, you feel like the whole world has shifted. It is a daily adventure.

Is it a good excuse for you to overindulge a little?

I have never been one to be a big dieter. I love food. So I don't think I have really changed my eating habits.

Will it affect the show?

Grace is not going to be pregnant. They are just going to hide it with bags and coats over my arm.

Is it a boy or a girl?

We don't know.

What trait of yours would you like your child to inherit?

Oh, goodness. I want my child to be like my husband [actor Daniel Zelman, 36]. He is sensitive, really intelligent, really funny...but solid. He has a good sense of perspective.

What trait would you want to avoid?

I am impatient. That is something that I hope that I don't pass on.

Any dreams for the child?

I imagine what everyone wishes for their child: happiness, laughter and peace, and a family and friends.

Are you one of those pregnant women who wears a bikini to the beach?

If it was summertime, I would absolutely be wearing a bikini. But I would have to buy a much larger one because I am not exactly fitting into my clothes these days.

ON THE BLOCK

SHAKIRA'S SHOWPLACE
PRICE: $2.1 million
PLACE: Miami Beach

SPACES: Shakira is saying adios to the exclusive La Gorce Island home she bought in 2001. Nestled behind a ficus fence, the 3,000-sq.-ft. Mediterranean-style house features four bedrooms and a pool. South Florida fans need not worry—the Latina rocker owns another Miami Beach abode nearby.

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