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Changing Partners

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WHOEVER SAID LOVE CONQUERS ALL WAS A FOOL” THE NOVELIST Edna Ferber once wrote. Don’t look to Ted Danson and Whoopi Goldberg to disagree. On Nov. 5, amid rumors that he was reconciling with wife Casey and that Whoopi was dating her orthodontist, the two announced the end of their 18-month romance in a joint statement: “We would like to set the record straight…. We are no longer romantically involved.”

Both Danson’s publicist, Annett Wolf, and Goldberg’s, Brad Cafarelli, say it was the relentless press of paparazzi that unraveled their clients’ romance. “They’ve never been exposed to anything like it individually,” says Wolf. “Never.” Did Danson’s outrageous performance last month at a Friars Club roast, during which he told dirty racial jokes while wearing blackface, send Goldberg packing? No way, say pals. “If you know Whoopi, she is shocking,” says Steve Tisch, producer of the comedy Corrina, Corrina, which Goldberg is now filming. “She’s no African-American Doris Day.” Indeed, at least one Goldberg colleague thinks it was her peppery personality that led Danson to flee. “She is an unbelievably difficult person,” says the source. “I really think people thought Ted had lost his mind.”

Truth is, those who chart the tides of on-location love saw signs, even before the infamous roast, that the improbable romance was cooling. The relationship was on high boil when Goldberg started filming Sister Act 2 last spring. “They were all goo-goo eyed,” says an observer of Danson’s frequent visits. But by midsummer, when Danson was filming the comedy Getting Even with Dad in San Francisco, Goldberg was seldom seen. And on the L.A. set of Corrina, Danson has been seen not at all.

The end does not, friends insist, mark any notable new-beginnings. Yes, confirms Wolf, when Danson was in a car accident in L.A. last month, it was wife Casey who picked him up at the hospital. “They have children together,” Wolf says. “Why wouldn’t she be there?” The two aren’t reconciling, says Wolf, and the divorce is still scheduled to become final on Dec. 4. Nor is Goldberg’s dalliance with dashing 32-year-old dentist Jeffrey Cohen necessarily a big deal. Though the two have been out on a few dates—and traveled to Washington together for the Ford Theater’s annual presidential gala on Oct. 30—the relationship, says her spokesperson, is “definitely not serious.” As for Ted and Whoopi, well, in the timeless spirit of post-split spin control, Goldberg says simply that she and Danson are still “good friends.”

SHELLEY LEVITT

KRISTINA JOHNSON in Los Angeles