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Following a motorcycle crash in scenic New Jersey, the actor and girlfriend Sarah Larson bounce back to attend his latest premiere
When Sarah Larson arrived with George Clooney at the Michael Clayton premiere in New York Sept. 24, looking stunning in Armani and crutches, the actor beamed. “She seems like she can take it, huh?” Clooney told PEOPLE. The reference was to his date’s recovery from their motorcycle accident three days earlier in Weehawken, N.J. (Larson, 28, suffered a broken toe and Clooney, 46, a hairline rib fracture and road rash after clipping a car while on a scenic drive. Both wore helmets; police have not filed charges.) But his comment on Larson’s stamina could as well have referred to her life with America’s eternal bachelor, a whirlwind courtship gone public at the Venice and Deauville film festivals last month (where one witness said Clooney “couldn’t keep his hands off her”). Did the Weehawken scrape bring the couple closer together? “You’re just happy nobody is hurt worse,” was all Clooney would say. “I feel pretty lucky we got out of it.” He admitted to being “a little dinged up” and using “lots of Neosporin. I’m definitely not jogging or doing jumping jacks.” And is he taking care of his lady friend? “Well, we’re just resting. You don’t really want to rub or massage parts that are broken or anything.”
WHO IS CLOONEY’S GIRL?
Before her paparazzi debut by Clooney’s side at the film-festival circuit, Larson was a cocktail waitress at Moon in the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Dating Clooney is not her first brush with fame. In 2005 Larson and former boyfriend Dan Randolph won NBC’s Fear Factor (with a $25,000 prize), where Larson drank a martini with a scorpion in it.
TAKING A BREAK
Sometimes you just gotta get the heck out of Dodge. A day after being formally charged with a hit-and-run causing property damage and driving without a valid California license, Spears, 25, headed for Atlanta on Sept. 22 for some shopping. She wanted to “gather her thoughts and get away from the L.A. chaos” says a source. The singer has plenty to think about: During a Sept. 24 Today show appearance, former bodyguard Tony Barretto, 28, alleged Spears—then fresh from rehab—took drugs, drank alcohol and behaved erratically during his two-month stint: “I’m here for the kids … because of my frustrations at the time on not being able to protect them from her.” Counters a Spears friend: “He was never allowed near the kids. He’s seen Britney maybe a total of eight times in his life.” But on Sept. 17 a judge ordered Spears to undergo twice-weekly drug tests and meet with a “parenting coach” for a minimum of eight hours a week. During these meetings the coach “will observe the quality of [a parent’s] behavior with the children and give knowledge about better ways of being a parent,” says parenting coach Dr. Jayne A. Major. With ex Kevin Federline, 29, Spears must also complete a Parenting Without Conflict program (assigned in about 1 percent of custody cases) to improve their communication skills. The parents sit across from each other doing drills, and the facilitators give feedback, according to L.A. program supervisor Craig Ogulnick. These “drills” include learning how to politely reword requests and handle arguments. “We need to make sure they’re putting the kids first,” he says, “It’s not to say everyone walks out of here holding hands, but [it] is a huge step in the right direction.”
John Mayer enjoyed a romantic brunch with, as one source says, “a female cast member from Friday Night Lights” at Taverna, an Austin, Texas, restaurant, on Sept. 22. On the 24th, he brunched again with “an unidentified brunette” at the city’s South Congress Cafe, where, the hostess says, “they sure didn’t look mad at each other.” Could the chowtime companions be one and the same lady? Minka Kelly (inset), anyone? The rocker’s rep declined comment, and a spokesman for Kelly could not be reached for comment. But a source confirms the two have been spending time together, adding, “They’re having fun.”
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW
It’s wheels graduation time for Zac Efron, moving on from his granddad’s Oldsmobile to a shiny black Audi. The Olds “has huge dents in it,” noted Efron, 19, who called it Oldie. The High School Musical star enjoyed the reaction Oldie got from the younger generation at stoplights. “The minivan with soccer girls pulls up, it’s like, ‘Ugh!'”
Season 2 champ Drew Lachey’s hosting debut with Tom Bergeron (above), filling in after Samantha Harris gave birth (see page 97), was flawless, though he admits having a brief pang to get back on the floor. “Then I remember how my back hurt and my knees hurt by the time it was over,” Lachey tells PEOPLE…. Dancers Alec Mazo and Edyta Sliwinska (below) made an instructional fitness DVD, Dancing Like the Pros. No guarantees of bodies like theirs.
¡Felicitaciónes! Mexican-born actress Salma Hayek, 41, and her businessman fiancé, François-Henri Pinault, 45—they met in Venice in May ’06—welcomed daughter Valentina Paloma on Sept. 21. “Salma will be a doting mother—the way she is with her dogs, I can’t even imagine what she’ll be like with her kid,” said Josh Lucas, who dated Hayek for almost a year. “I got a text from her, and everyone is healthy.” And mobile: Pinault recently bought the new mom a Pinel & Pinel trunk on wheels that transforms into a nursery.
Nicole and Keith
MOVING ON UP
Although Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban‘s current two-acre Nashville home has 10 rooms, a gym and a spa, what the couple really want is more terra firma—so they put their house on the market for nearly $2.5 million and “have found land within Nashville,” says Urban’s rep. “They’re very excited about moving into their new place.” Perhaps along with a few new residents: Kidman recently told Vanity Fair she and Urban wanted a larger property so they could have horses and lots of space…. Giddyup!
Here are 24 hours Kiefer Sutherland, 40, wished hadn’t happened. Police stopped the 24 star in Hollywood Sept. 25 for making an illegal U-turn after attending the FOX Fall Eco-Casino party. Arrested after failing a sobriety test, he faces a court date Oct. 16.
“A TV family [is] like your wife’s cousin or something. Not quite family, technically family. Are they really your family…you just see them around holidays”
You can hear Chris Rock in every episode of Everybody Hates Chris, but the comic makes his first actual appearance on the season premiere (The CW, Oct. 1). He tells PEOPLE’s Jennifer Garcia about the part and why everyone in L.A. loves going to Hyde.
You could play any part on this show. Why this one?
I wouldn’t mind playing one of my uncles … I had a bunch of crazy uncles, [but] I play a guidance counselor that tells kids to leave school, and that’s kinda funny.
Tyler James Williams has grown so much in three years.
His voice is pretty deep, and we had to shave his chest yesterday. Lindsay Lohan came to pick him up, and he’s going to Hyde. They just let every kid in that club, don’t they? Is that technically a kid club? They got Hot Pockets in there? I gotta go to Hyde one night! No, really, I’m really happy for Tyler. He’s got good parents that really keep him grounded. He’s pretty much the same kid we cast three years ago.
Does he remind you of yourself?
When I was his age, I was getting beat up. I was miserable. My teeth were jacked up, acne … this kid is like handsome; he’s a star. So I can only relate to him now as an adult; he wouldn’t even talk to me as a kid.