Mrs. Moder's First Year
07/17/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT
Italians have a word for it: affiatati – the unspoken affection between two people in love. A couple of weeks ago at the Caffé Trieste in Ovada, Italy, there was lots of affiatati American-style, as Mr. and Mrs. Danny Moder of Venice, Calif., lazed away a Saturday afternoon with a group of friends. "Always she kissed him and he kissed her," says Fausto Parodi, whose family owns the 96-year-old cafe. "They looked like a couple in love."
Fausto must not be reading the tabloids. In the year since Mrs. Moder – a.k.a. Julia Roberts – wed cameraman Danny in a midnight ceremony at her ranch in Taos, N.Mex., the state of their union has kept the rumor mill working overtime: She stormed out! She's jealous! She's pregnant! They're on the verge of breaking up! (Only in Julia's world does the traditional first-anniversary gift, paper, arrive in tabloid form.) Throughout, the Moders have issued denials or simply kept silent. "They know the truth, so most of the time it doesn't affect them," says a source close to the couple. The truth? "They are a very happy, peaceful and private couple." Adds Moder's father, Michael: "They're doing fine."
That doesn't mean the marriage has been problem-free. A source close to Moder confirms there has been tension between Roberts and Moder's family stemming from Danny's divorce from Vera Steimberg, to whom he was still married when he began dating Roberts. Yet there are signs of a thaw. In March Roberts and Moder joined his family for a reunion in Las Vegas, and in June they celebrated Father's Day together. Says a source close to the family: "I think things may be on the mend between Julia and the Moders."
Fans, meanwhile, should be forgiven for wondering where their movie star went. In the year since she declared, "I was born to be the wife of this man," Mrs. Moder (her offscreen name of choice) has practically sent Glamorous Julia into hiding. The 2001 Best Actress winner's sole glitzy appearance this year, at the Oscars in March, sparked yet more rumors when she turned up sans Danny. Otherwise Roberts has been AWOL from awards shows, fancy public parties and generally all that glitters. "She has her movie-star life and her everyday life," says an acquaintance. "With Danny, her realness comes through. Danny's given her peace with herself."