04/21/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT
"It's a total surprise," movie producer and pal Mace Neufeld has told PEOPLE about Tuesday's announcement that Harrison Ford, 58, and his wife of 17 years, screenwriter Melissa Mathison, 50, have separated for the time being. "They both worked so hard to keep their marriage and family private and non-Hollywood," Neufeld added. According to Patricia McQueeney, Ford's longtime manager, the announcement was triggered by "false and inaccurate media reports" -- specifically, stories about Ford in a Manhattan nightclub chatting closely (and taking a hansom cab ride through Central Park) with Lara Flynn Boyle, 30, star of ABC's "The Practice." "This whole thing with Lara Flynn Boyle is ludicrous," McQueeney says in the cover story. "Harrison wouldn't be caught dead in a hansom cab." Some friends, including those who are hoping for reconciliation, blame the split on Mathison's preference for city life. Ford, in contrast, prefers their home in Jackson Hole, Wyo. For now, PEOPLE reports, the star is living in a Manhattan hotel just minutes from the family's three-bedroom Central Park West apartment. The Fords reside there during the academic year while children Malcolm, 13, and Georgia, 10, attend private school.