NEWS BRIEFS: Britney's Making Scents

03/12/2004 AT 01:00 PM EST

LAUNCHED: Britney Spears, 22, has signed a deal with the financially troubled Elizabeth Arden Inc. to develop and market her own line of perfumes and cosmetics, the first of which will hit stores this fall, the company said Friday. Spears's first Arden product will be a fragrance for which she is "personally involved" in all aspects of its development, said Arden, which on Thursday posted a loss of $11.1 million for the fourth quarter due to restructuring and debt-reduction costs, the Associated Press reports.

POSTPONED: Russell Crowe, 39, will not be an Oscar contender next year, says the Hollywood Reporter, now that the release date of his boxing drama, "Cinderella Man," has been postponed from this Dec. 17 to March 18, 2005. Crowe's "A Beautiful Mind" team of director Ron Howard and Brian Glazer are also onboard, but because Crowe dislocated his shoulder training for the period picture, the start of production has been put off until April 19.

QUOTED: "I never liked that car. First of all, I thought it was ugly. Secondly, I thought it was ridiculous to have two undercover policemen driving around in a striped tomato." -- Original "Starsky & Hutch" TV star Paul Michael Glaser, 60, speaking about the show's trademark Ford Gran Torino during the London premiere of the movie

ESTIMATED: Mel Gibson, 48, will likely earn between $350 million to $400 million on his personal investment of $25 million in his movie "The Passion of the Christ," one of the biggest individual windfalls in Hollywood history, reports the Wall Street Journal. The paper credits the favorable distribution deal Gibson hammered out for the independent film, which affords profits greater than those made by Steven Spielberg and his studio productions. Gibson's payday is comparable only to that of one other filmmaker: "Star Wars" mogul George Lucas, who reportedly controlled every aspect of his 1999 "The Phantom Menace."

CAST: "Married ... With Children" veteran Christina Applegate, 32, will play Charity Hope Valentine in a 2005 Broadway revival of the musical "Sweet Charity," while Emmy-nominated "Six Feet Under" star Peter Krause, 38, is due to open June 25 in the Broadway revival of the Arthur Miller drama "After the Fall," about Miller's late ex-wife Marilyn Monroe.

DELAYED: Former Army POW Jessica Lynch, 20, has "postponed indefinitely" her wedding to her fianc_, Sgt. Ruben Contreras, PEOPLE reports in its latest issue, on newsstands Friday. The Iraqi War heroine is still wearing her wedding ring, and family members say she's still engaged -- but did not give a reason for the postponement.

CUT: In light of the Janet Jackson Super Bowl flash, UPN reportedly ordered Tyra Banks, executive producer and host of "America's Next Top Model," to delete portions of next week's highly promoted "orgy" episode that was to have featured a (non-graphic) group grope involving four young men and four young women -- one of whom is shown in a promo calling her boyfriend in tears because she'd cheated on him. UPN officials and Banks declined to comment.

DIED: Alf Bicknell, 75, chauffeur to the Beatles at the height of their fame (and inspiration for the song, "Baby You Can Drive My Car") died at his home in Oxford, England on Tuesday. The cause of death was not given. "He was with them for four years including when they met Elvis in 1965," said the band's former promoter Sam Leach. "Alf often recalled with pride how Elvis called him 'Sir' during that meeting." ... Rust Epique, 35, former member of the band Crazy Town and lead singer for the hard-rock group Pre)thing, died Monday night in his Las Vegas home of an apparent heart attack, says reports. Pre)thing's debut album, "22nd Century Lifestyle," is scheduled for release April 6. ... Dave Blood, bassist for defunct Philadelphia rock act the Dead Milkmen ("Big Lizard in My Backyard"), committed suicide Wednesday, according to a post by his sister on the band's official Website. The group dissolved after releasing "Stoney's Extra Stout (Pig)" in 1995.

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