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Neighbors of Barbra Streisand and James Brolin are protesting what they call the couple’s “mansionization of Malibu.” Specifically, they are angry at plans the pair have to build a 6,700-sq.-ft. barnlike structure on the three-acre compound where they live. “[Opponents] are saying it’s 12,000 square feet, but that includes the basement, and you don’t include that,” says Streisand’s spokesman. Nonetheless, the songstress is taking neighbors’ complaints seriously. She commissioned UCLA to do a study to show that the building, which will be used to store and catalog much of her showbiz memorabilia, would not cast a shadow on anyone else’s land. And though the Malibu Planning Commission has given its approval, Streisand asked the city council to delay its vote, scheduled for January, so she and Brolin “have a chance to explore our neighbors’ concerns.” The city council agreed and will vote in February.

Model Kathy Ireland will make what she considers to be her serious debut as an actress in A Christmas Story, a pay-per-view TV movie. She’ll play Santa Claus’s daughter who has to save Christmas. The movie, due in December, will costar actress Mary Donnelly Haskell (wife of Ireland’s William Morris agent Sam Haskell) as her evil sister. Ireland spent some time studying with the San Diego Repertory so she could really learn the craft. Since then she’s been waiting for the right project, and this, says her agent, “was irresistible.” Adds Ireland: “I went where the parts were great and the visibility wasn’t.”

At a tribute dinner to filmmaker George Lucas, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, the guest speaker, 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl, congratulated Lucas on the news that Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace is the second-largest-grossing picture worldwide in history. She went on to say that “George has decided in his next episode he’s going to reach out for an older audience.” Stahl brought the house down by announcing: “60 Minutes has learned that Mike Wallace has agreed to make a cameo appearance on the condition that he gets to kill off Christopher Plummer [who gives a not entirely flattering portrayal of Wallace in the film The Insider], and Bob Dole pops up as a Jedi knight who can’t get his laser to work.”

Freddie Prinze Jr. seems to think that Jennifer Love Hewitt is all that. He visited Hewitt on the set of her FOX show Time of Your Life, and they acted like the teens they have played onscreen. The two were laughing a lot, locked arm in arm, and dancing outside the studio doors. Prinze left with Hewitt when the shoot ended at around 12:45 a.m. Prinze’s rep says the two are just friends and that the actor was just “killing time” before going to New York City to promote his new romantic comedy, Down to You.

Fast take: I hear Carmen Electra has been saying that, though ex-husband Dennis Rodman “has been announcing to everybody that we’re getting back together, I’ve just spent a fortune divorcing him, so why would I marry him again?” Good question.