Brad Pitt's Tongue Twister

05/07/2004 at 01:05 AM EDT

Brad Pitt's Tongue Twister
Brad Pitt
DPA/Landov

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt

Sure, he appears nude in a scene in Troy ("Buck naked," he says), but it turns out Brad Pitt faced other challenges as well – namely, mastering the accent required for the role. "It's more difficult, I found out, for people from the South or Midwest or the hills to adopt an English (accent)," says the Missouri-raised Pitt, who plays Achilles in the epic, due May 14. "I put a lot of work into it."

Taking the (Short)Cake
Brooke Shields seldom feels like second banana – unless Strawberry Shortcake is in the room. Both turned out at the recent Kids for Kids Celebrity Carnival and Street Fair in New York to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. "I think (the kids) are more interested in Strawberry Shortcake," Shields told us. "But it's okay." Shortcake, who was spotted with the Power Rangers (though her rep insists they're "just friends"), in turn gave a nod to Shields. "I was a big hit with Strawberry Shortcake, I have to say," Shields said. "I got kisses and everything."

Kiss & Tell
Yes, that was Kiss rocker Gene Simmons on Third Watch last Friday (he appears again May 7). How did the lingually endowed bassist, who has appeared in about a half-dozen movies, get his start in acting? "The first film I was in was a movie called Runaway, by Michael Crichton," Simmons says. "I didn't know anything about acting. They just brought me in. You know why? Because I was 'doing' the secretary, so help me God. Sorry, not 'doing' – 'friends' with the secretary. ... And I came in and Crichton said, 'Without making faces, tell me you're going to eat my heart out.' So I thought of the thing I hate most, and we looked at each other for about 15 seconds, and he said, 'Okay, you've got the job.'" (What he hates most is anyone who threatens his mom. No, really. Now you know.)

Caught in the Act
Recently spotted:
• Lovebirds Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake, in Delray Beach, Fla., dining in local haunts like Boston's on the Beach and Nonna's Cafe. Timberlake was visiting Diaz, who is in Florida filming In Her Shoes with Shirley MacLaine.

Bachelor Jesse Palmer, near the jewelry section at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York. The staff tells us he was shopping for jewelry for his mom for Mother's Day.

Serena Williams and new boyfriend Brett Rattner, hugging in front of a flower shop and strolling hand-in-hand through an open-air market in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

• At the Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival in Indio, Calif.: Alicia Silverstone, explaining to a woman that her shoes were "vegan"... The O.C.'s Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson, rocking out to Death Cab for Cutie ... Tommy Lee, arriving by helicopter with a group of friends.

• By KC BAKER, MOLLY LOPEZ, MARK DAGOSTINO, LINDA TRISCHITTA, BROOKE BIZZELL STACHYRA and SEAN DALY

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