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

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

Snake Charmer
When Simon Cowell oozes bile after a fine performance on American Idol, it's easy to wonder whether the sardonic Brit is hearing the same thing everyone else is. His taste in animals is similarly contrary. "I like spiders, I love snakes, and I love rats," says Cowell, 44. "I think rats got bad PR, because actually they are big mice. I would like to have a pet rat. It would sit on my shoulder. I could also have a pet snake. I'd love sitting with a snake wrapped around me—it's the most incredible feeling. And when you blow on them, they stick their tongue out at you." Not unlike some Simon-ized contestants.

Waiting to Exhale
Eve's already a successful rapper, TV star and film actress, and she knows exactly what she wants from a man. "Complete and total honesty. I have thick skin and I don't like sugar coating. Other than that, somebody that I mesh with who's not judgmental," says the 25-year-old, who meshed pretty well with her Barbershop 2: Back in Business costar Michael Ealy. Especially after sharing some tender moments during filming. "We kissed a lot. I was so nervous because it was my first screen kiss, and it had to look good. But after the fifth take, it's not special. We kept swapping Altoids because neither one of us wanted to offend the other."

Driving Miss Crazies
Nicole Richie is ready for another wild ride. She and Paris Hilton are going on a road trip this spring to shoot the second season of The Simple Life. "I've never been in a Winnebago before, but I've heard they're supposed to be spacey," says Richie, 22. "When I was little, I could never ride backwards on private planes or in limos, but I think I'm over that now. So I should be okay. I'm most concerned about the safety. I pray to God that Paris and I both take lessons to learn how to drive it before they just stick us in."

Bankable Star
As a teenage gas station attendant in Queens, Ray Romano was robbed twice at gunpoint. "It sounds horrible, but I wasn't crazily fearing for my life," says Romano, 46, who costars with Gene Hackman in the comedy Welcome to Mooseport. "One guy came in pretending to use the pay phone. I was pumping gas, and he said, 'Lay down, I don't want to hurt you.' He took the money and ran. Then, another time, a guy stuck the gun out his car window and said, 'Gimme all your money' I took out my wallet and showed him that I only had a single. He looked at it and let me keep it. [After that] my mother pressured me to give up that job: 'Go work at a bank—that way, when you're robbed it'll make the news.' "

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