updated 03/01/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/01/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

Stepping Out
First Daughter Barbara Bush makes the scene in Manhattan after dark

Barbara Bush ventured into the limelight in New York City last week, arriving hand in hand with socialite Fabian Basabe at a party in honor of designer Jennifer Nicholson (daughter of Jack). Bush, 22, and Basabe, 25, sipped champagne at the hip Manhattan nightclub Viscaya before hitting the dance floor, where a fellow partygoer says Bush "wasn't afraid to bump and grind." A source close to Basabe says the two met through mutual acquaintances and have been hanging out with each other since Christmas, though one source says they are probably just friends.

The White House does not comment on the private lives of the Bush twins, but Basabe, the son of Miami Beach hotel owners, may not be the kind of company the President wants Barbara to keep. Named one of New York's most eligible bachelors—and a fixture on the Manhattan party circuit—Basabe failed to appear in court on three separate California traffic violations from 1999-2000, including speeding, driving without a license and driving under the influence. He also has several minor traffic violations in Virginia and North Carolina. A friend says that "he is working feverishly with a lawyer to clean it up."

Star Jones Says, 'I Will!'
She can't dunk and she's probably not strong on defense, but Star Jones rebounded brilliantly during the fourth quarter at the NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles Feb. 15. Her beau, Al Reynolds, dropped to one knee, presented her with a seven-carat diamond engagement ring and, as more than 19,000 fans watched on the Staples Center's giant screen, proposed. Without missing a beat, Jones said, "Yes," and the two sealed the deal with some hugging and kissing to the cheers of the crowd, which included Denzel Washington, Ashton Kutcher and Beyoncé. Wall Street banker Reynolds, 35, who has been dating Jones, 42, since they met at an Alicia Keys concert last November, told NBA broadcaster Craig Sager, "She loves basketball, she loves her friends, and she loves diamonds. So I decided to give them to her all together."

A few months ago German supermodel Heidi Klum announced that she was expecting a baby with Italian businessman Flavio Briatore. The baby is due in May, but Klum and Briatore have split. (Germany's Bild newspaper reports that Briatore now dates a 19-year-old student.) Klum, 30, and Briatore, 53, will remain on good terms. "They will be raising the child together as friends," says a source. Meanwhile, though Klum has been seen with singer John Mayer, 26, her rep insists they're not romantically involved.

Prince Harry arrived in Lesotho Feb. 13 to continue his year of travels—just after British papers put heat on the King of Clubs for wild nights drinking and dancing at London's hot spots. Harry's rep responded to the reports by saying they were exaggerated and "like any 19-year-old, Harry enjoys socializing." The next two months should keep Harry out of the gossip columns: He will be helping single African mothers with AIDS.

After a please-make-him-stop rendition of the Ricky Martin song "She Bangs" on American Idol, William Hung has become the vocal equivalent of the film Plan 9 from Outer Space-so bad he's good. How else to explain Hung's popularity after his audition aired Jan. 27? Web sites devoted to the UC Berkeley civil engineering student have sprung up, he has appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and he was spoofed on Saturday Night Live. The cable music network Fuse said it would offer Hung a $25,000 music deal. The upshot? Hung, 21, will be tapped for a March 1 FOX special, Uncut, Uncensored and Untalented. "I am popular," says Hung, "but probably not for the right reason."

Christina and Brit: Peace Talks?
Catfight fans will be disappointed to learn that, after recent bad blood between popsters Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, the latter, in a letter, has retracted her claws. During an appearance on MTV's Total Request Live, Aguilera, 23, told the audience that she had sent a letter of truce to Spears, 22. Aguilera, who had called Spears "a lost little girl who desperately needs guidance" during a magazine interview last December, said, "[The letter] was very personal. It was about the fact that being two female artists in this industry we got to be there for each other...but I have yet to hear back from Miss Brit. So, Britney, if you hear this I'd like an answer. I'd like a response. We do have a history." But do they have a future? No word yet from Spears.

No Way to Treat a Lady
Knight that he is, Sir Paul McCartney isn't one to allow anyone to besmirch the good name of a fair lady, especially that of his wife, Heather Mills. London's The Sun reported Feb. 16 that it got an angry phone call from McCartney defending Mills, 36, a frequent target of the British press. Heather is a really decent person, he told The Sun. She actually bothers to get up off her backside and do things to help people. Besides, added McCartney, 61, "I'm not stupid. I wouldn't marry someone for their looks—they'd have to have a lot more than that." McCartney also denied reports of a frosty relationship between Heather and daughter Stella. "I'm sick of people saying Heather and Stella don't get on—the truth is they do."


Evan Rachel Wood

Evan Rachel Wood will attend the Screen Actors Guild Awards (televised Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. on TNT) as a leading actress nominee for her role in Thirteen, competing against such established stars as Diane Keaton and Charlize Theron. Pretty exciting stuff for a 16-year-old? Totally, Wood tells Scoop.

What makes the SAG Award nomination special to you?

It comes from actors—people that I look up to and respect. They know how hard it can be. So if you can touch someone who knows what it is like behind the scenes, then I think that is really special.

Did you vote for yourself?

I gave the ballot to my mom. I am sure she did.

You have some pretty big names in your category.

I can't even believe that my name is next to Diane Keaton's! I never thought I would be in the same category as people I grew up watching.

Who is the most exciting person you've met in the past few weeks?

I got to meet Jude Law at one of the award shows. It was one of those two-minute commercial breaks where everybody was running to the bathroom and he knew one of the people I was with. You meet half the people you have been watching for years on your way to the bathroom.

What kind of perks are you getting these days?

I am getting lots of clothes and makeup and facials. It's all about the gift bags! [laughs] I think I even got a gift certificate for laser eye surgery.

What do you do with all the stuff you get?

I give a lot of the makeup stuff to my mom. I really only keep a few things—like sometimes I will get a nice pair of headphones.

What will you wear to the awards?

I don't know. I don't even have a stylist. And I know nothing about hair or makeup. I know how to straighten my hair and that's it. I am big on ponytails. So what's in your handbag at these shows? Well, my mom always seems to slip in a cheat sheet with a bunch of names on case I win. Other than that? Gum, my cell phone and lip gloss. And the limo driver's number.


PRICE: $3.75 million
PLACE: New Orleans, La.
SPECS: Goth fiction queen Anne Rice is closing a chapter, selling her historic ll,287-sq.-ft. mansion to simplify her life. "I find myself overwhelmed with the care of what was once such a delight," said the author. Built in 1857, the Greek Revival home features a library, a lush garden, a pool and a working elevator.

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