Daily Insider

01/14/2004 AT 06:41 PM EST

January 14, 2004
FACE FACTS
Just what was it that inspired Tim Burton to cast Ewan McGregor as the younger version of Albert Finney's character in Big Fish? Perhaps he reads PEOPLE. Way back in 1997, we noted that McGregor's "wide range recalls that of another British chameleon" – Finney. Note to Tim: Feel free to give us a call if you'd like some advice for casting Willy Wonka.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARY J.
R&B star Mary J. Blige took over New York's super-cool restaurant Butter last night to celebrate her 33rd birthday with a crowd of family and friends. "For some reason this one is really, really special," she said of her big day. "I feel like I'm accepting all the years, you know? I just feel good about it, man. I'm happy!" Just as she finished talking, Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs strolled over to give her a hug. "Mary J. Blige is a good friend of mine. Lifelong friend of mine," Diddy said. Though he was spotted in Miami just two nights earlier partying in the same club as ex-flame Jennifer Lopez ("Just a coincidence," he insists), his date for Blige's party was his mom, whom everyone referred to affectionately as "Mama Combs." Other celebrity revelers included: Jay-Z, Kim Cattrall, Star Jones, John Leguizamo, Russell Simmons, Lindsay Lohan, model Alek Wek, producer/record mogul L.A. Reid and MTV Rich Girl Jaime Gleicher. Blige's big surprise birthday gift was a black Bentley convertible, with a big bow on top, which her husband, Kendu Isaacs, presented to her on the street outside the restaurant.

CAUGHT IN THE ACT
Recently spotted:
Anna Nicole Smith, trying on a slew of dresses at Betsey Johnson in L.A.'s Beverly Center mall.

JC Chasez, hiding behind dark sunglasses as he signed autographs at a Steve Madden store in Miami's South Beach.

Kelly Osbourne, enjoying the music of the Metal Shop (a popular '80s hair-metal cover band) at the Viper Room on L.A.'s Sunset Boulevard.

David Blaine, at Crunch Gym on 13th Street in New York, signing up for a free membership. The controversial illusionist apparently is working on getting his buff back after starving himself for 44 days in London.

Reported by: TODD GOLD, MARK DAGOSTINO, AMY GURVITZ and MARISA LAUDADIO

Hilary Gives a Hoot: NEXT >

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