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Hollywood & Vain

As far as The West Wing’s Bradley Whitford is concerned, the media can stop buzzing about a possible celebrity version of Survivor. It already exists. “Award shows are almost like reality shows, where they put celebrities on television in a real moment, and it’s a test of how vain and self-celebrating you are,” says Whitford, 41, who will be a contestant himself in September as a first-time Emmy nominee. (His wife, Malcolm in the Middle’s Jane Kaczmarek, also made the cut.) Whitford is thrilled about his nod for best supporting actor in a drama, but not about competing against fellow Wing men John Spencer and Richard Schiff, as well as Michael Imperioli and Dominic Chianese of The Sopranos. “It’s this American need to come up with a winner, which is natural but ridiculous,” he says. “Especially because we’re all a bunch of theater wimps who couldn’t handle sports.”

Angel Eyeing

When Titanic actress Gloria Stuart was filming 1933’s The Invisible Man, did she have any idea that she would still be acting almost 70 years later? “Surely you jest!” says Stuart, who guest-stars on the Sci-Fi Channel series Invisible Man on Aug. 24. “I still enjoy acting very much, because now I’m a much better actress.” Stuart, 91, adds that she is gunning for a role on FOX’s sci-fi series Dark Angel, which is produced by Titanic director James Cameron. “I said to him, ‘If you don’t write a part for me of an old lady lost in space, I’ll never speak to you again!’ ” she says. “I keep sending him little notes reminding him that I’m standing by, ready to be shot out into space.”

Celebrity Cruises

Penélope Cruz’s relationship with Tom Cruise has thrust her into the spotlight, but she isn’t going to kiss and tell. “My personal life is something I want to keep for myself,” says Cruz, 27, who allows that her dates with Cruise have been “very nice.” The Spanish actress, who stars in the new drama Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, says that “gossip happens to anyone in a profession like mine. But I don’t let it affect me.” Especially when it links her romantically with men who turn out to be family members. “A few months ago, I was walking down the streets of New York with my brother, who is 16,” she says. “The next day I read that my brother is my new boyfriend! What can you do?”

Idol Worship

She may not have seen fire and rain, but Helen Hunt has a friend in James Taylor. “He has this thing he says in his concerts when women scream, ‘I love you!’ James says, ‘Thanks. It helps not to know me,’ ” says Hunt, 38. “I feel the same way about fame. I love how he is saying, ‘Enjoy your projection of me. The real me is someone you will never know.’ ” Hunt returns to the screen as Woody Allen’s love interest in his comedy The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, but found that her Oscar for As Good as It Gets provided little comfort when it came to acting opposite one of her idols. “The Oscar can’t help you when you’re turning in less than a wonderful performance,” she says. “You can’t turn the cameras around and say, ‘Don’t forget, I won one of those babies!’ ”

Life After Career Suicide

“I’m feeling pretty good for the first time in a long time,” says David Caruso, still recovering from his bad-cop move to ditch NYPD Blue in 1994 for a film career that didn’t pan out. Having received positive notices for his role opposite Russell Crowe in last year’s Proof of Life, Caruso, 45, turns up in the new thriller Session 9. “There was a time when you couldn’t bring my name up without hearing me described as ‘the enemy,’ ” he says. “I hope people have some understanding of me taking responsibility for that. Proof of Life was a minor signal to Hollywood, I hope. Maybe they won’t let me do [exactly] what I like to do, but maybe they’ll let me participate.”