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Courteney Cox Arquette‘s father, Richard Cox, a building contractor, died on Sept. 3 after a long battle with liver cancer. Cox took time off from Friends to attend the funeral in Panama City, Fla., with her husband, David Arquette. She had known for more than a year that the cancer was terminal, but I’m told his death was a real blow to Cox, who suffered a miscarriage in the spring. “It’s been a tough year for her,” the source says. The Oct. 25 episode of Friends was dedicated to him.

On another Friends front, viewers have wondered when Brad Pitt might make an appearance on wife Jennifer Aniston‘s sitcom ever since they became a couple. The mystery is over. The Ocean’s Eleven star taped his episode this week on the Warner Bros, lot in Burbank. I hear he plays a high school friend of David Schwimmer’s character Ross whom Rachel (Aniston) used to mock. He returns looking like, well, a movie star, and still hating his former tormentor. No word on whether Pitt shared Aniston’s dressing room. The episode is expected to air by the end of November.

David Spade went to see his pal Sean Penn read some short stories at a small Los Angeles theater recently. The Just Shoot Me star thought he could duck in unnoticed, but Penn ambushed him and put a chair onstage next to his own. “Here’s your seat,” the sometimes volatile actor told him before insisting Spade read a 10-page story. After a few minutes, Penn jokingly yelled, “Put something into it!” When Spade asked to be paid for his services, Penn threw a $20 bill at him. After a few flubbed lines and mispronounced words, Penn gave him the hook. “That’s why I’m on TV,” said Spade.

The last place you would expect Paul Newman to show up is on The Simpsons, but on Dec. 9 that’s where you’ll find him. Hank Azaria was set to do his impersonation of the 76-year-old movie icon when the producers, on a whim, decided to ask Newman, who said yes. In the episode, Homer gets jealous when Marge develops a crush on the Brawny paper towel lumberjack, so he looks for a product image on which to develop a crush. He’s eyeing a bottle of Newman’s Own salad dressing when the actor’s face talks to him. Newman recorded his one line of dialogue—basically shooting Homer down—last summer on the set of The Road to Perdition, costarring Tom Hanks (another Simpsons alum) and due out in December. His pay? Scale of $636 and a Simpsons T-shirt.

Mariah Carey arrived on the Manhattan Beach, Calif., set of Ally McBeal on Oct. 23 at 8 a.m. and put in a 12-hour workday. There was no entourage in sight. Candles and pillows decorated her trailer, but that’s an Ally tradition for most guest stars. Wearing a candy-pink dress, she had the crew in stitches playing off her diva image as one of only two people a matchmaker deemed “unmatchable” in an episode set to air Jan. 7.