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IS BEN BEHAVING?
ABSENCE MAY MAKE the heart grow fonder, but Ben Affleck knows that a few diamonds can only up the ante. On June 14 the actor, 41 – back in L.A. for the weekend from the Detroit set of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – took along daughter Seraphina, 5, to do some serious shopping for wife Jennifer Garner at Barneys in Beverly Hills. “Seraphina announced to a saleslady she was looking for a special gift for her mom,” a store source tells PEOPLE. Explaining that the couple’s ninth anniversary was coming up (on June 29), “Ben let her take her time,” says the source. “She wanted her mom to have diamonds. They ended up buying a gift and had it wrapped at the store.”
A weekend back home with his family – Garner, 42, and their kids Violet, 8, Seraphina and Samuel, 2 – was a welcome break for Affleck, whose downtime activities in Detroit have sparked tabloid buzz that his gambling has caused strain in his marriage. He’s been spotted at Greektown Casino and MotorCity Casino. “He’s a great tipper,” says a casino insider, “very generous.”
Garner “isn’t happy with Ben’s gambling,” says a source close to the family, “she never understood his gambling obsession, and she doesn’t want him to be in the news [for it].” The source adds that there’s actually no sign of a rift: “She’s the most patient wife ever and is still very much in love with Ben.” (And, of course, Garner herself was with Affleck on April 29, when he was famously banned from playing blackjack at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas for alleged card counting, a legal but forbidden play tactic.) Meanwhile, a Batman source says Affleck has been “fine on-set. He’s been a total pro.”
With the movie expected to shoot all summer, Garner, who visited Affleck in Detroit in early June, plans to keep L.A. as the family’s home base (Affleck’s mom, Chris, has visited to lend a hand) and shuttle the kids to Detroit on “shorter trips to see Ben,” says the family source. “She thinks he is an amazing dad.”
Hollywood’s Gambling Secrets
Known to Hollywood’s elite card players as the “poker princess,” Molly Bloom organized high-stakes, invitation-only poker games for A-listers including Affleck, Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio where millions of dollars were made and lost. Though the party crashed after hedge-fund player Bradley Ruderman was indicted for fraud, Bloom’s new memoir details everything from the $50,000 buy-in tables to A-listers’ betting tactics. A ruthless player, Maguire was a chintzy tipper, she says. Affleck impressed Bloom with his “relaxed charisma” and by keeping his stake to the minimum. “Ben’s buy-in choice told me that he was a smart player,” she writes in a Vanity Fair excerpt, “who liked to limit his downside.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR HALLE
It’s shaping up to be a pretty good summer for Halle Berry. On May 30 the actress came to terms with her ex Gabriel Aubry, who will receive $16,000 monthly custody payments for their daughter Nahla, 6. Though it’s a hefty sum, it’s a positive step for the former couple, whose nasty battles began after their split in 2010. “She’s just glad it’s over,” says a Berry insider. “It wasn’t easy to have so much disagreement.” And multiple sources confirm that Berry and her husband of nearly one year, Olivier Martinez, are doing just fine despite work schedules that often keep them apart. “I have to laugh,” Martinez, 48, told Germany’s Grazia about rumors of trouble. “Sometimes it’s annoying, but I just don’t care.” A source close to Berry, 47, whose sci-fi drama Extant premieres on July 9, concedes that the busy parents of Maceo, 8 months, have had “tensions” but says the couple are still very together. Further proof? A family Father’s Day trip to Disneyland, where Berry and Martinez were all smiles at the Happiest Place on Earth.
Are Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin consciously recoupling? The couple announced their separation in March but have since been spotted looking like, well, a married couple. “They haven’t made any concrete decision to get back together, but it’s a possibility,” says a friend. “They’re loving time together with and without the kids.” The actress, 41, and the Coldplay frontman, 37, are still living together with their children Apple, 10, and Moses, 8. “She didn’t want to end the marriage,” says another source. “He’s been a great father, and that has helped keep the flame alive.” Notes the friend: “They love each other, and if the romance comes back, they’ll go with it if it feels right.”
Jennifer Lopez is single—and mingling. Recently split from Casper Smart, “she has moved on and said she is dating again,” says a friend of the singer, 44, who’s been busy promoting her new album A.K.A. Though she shot down rumors on Twitter that she was with someone new, a source says she and pal Maksim Chmerkovskiy, 34, have been “talking a lot recently.”
Mick Jagger, 70, was spotted with ballet dancer Melanie Hamrick, 27, earlier this month, but the duo – who met at a Rolling Stones concert in Japan shortly before the tragic passing of Jagger’s longtime love L’Wren Scott – “have no plans to meet up in the future,” a friend says of the short-lived liaison. “He’s just trying to move on with his life.”
Nearly a year after the death of her longtime boyfriend Cory Monteith, Lea Michele, 27, is slowly starting to date model Matthew Paetz, 30, who starred in her “On My Way” music video and once worked for a male escort company. “It’s a new relationship,” says a friend. “Cory’s death will continue to be a struggle for her, [but] she’s doing better now and is happy.”
20 YEARS LATER: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
THE O.J. SIMPSON MURDER CASE
THE JUNE 1994 SLAYINGS OF NICOLE BROWN SIMPSON AND RON GOLDMAN LED TO THE MOST WATCHED TRIAL EVER
O.J. Simpson Since 2008, Simpson, 66, has been serving time in a Nevada prison for armed robbery. In May his attorneys filed another appeal. Prison has aged him, and “the mystique is gone,” says his former agent Michael Gilbert. Although Simpson, who will be eligible for parole in 2017, has high blood pressure and has gained a lot of weight, Gilbert says media reports that he’s at death’s door are exaggerated. Thomas Riccio, the collectibles dealer who was a key witness to the robbery, says Simpson sweeps up in the gym, tells the guards stories about his days as a football star and eats specially prepared meals. “He’s living it up pretty good,” says Riccio.
The Brown Family
Sister Denise, 56, speaks out against domestic violence and still gets e-mails saying, “If it weren’t for Nicole, I’d be dead.” Now sister Tanya, 44, and mom Juditha, 83, care for dad Lou, 90, who has Alzheimer’s.
The Goldman Family
Ron’s sister Kim, 42, a single mom of a 10-year-old son, runs a youth counseling center; her book Can’t Forgive was published in May. Ron’s dad, Fred, 73, sells clothing at Nordstrom’s and is a real estate agent.
Sydney & Justin
Just kids when their mom was murdered, Sydney, 28, and Justin, 25, now live in Georgia, keeping a low profile and rarely visiting their dad in prison. They’re doing great and “seem to be happy,” says Denise.
Judge Lance Ito
After 27 years as a judge, Ito, 63, retires Jan. 5, 2015, but his famous courtroom closed two years ago due to budget cuts, prompting Ito to complain of the closures, “What is maddening is that this did not have to be.”
Although his new clothing line (Kato’s Potatoes) whimsically targets fellow slackers, Kaelin, 55, says he leads an “incredibly healthy” lifestyle to stay youthful. The famous O.J. houseguest also finally has his own home.
Chris Darden & Marcia Clark
After losing the Simpson case, Darden, 58, wrote four books and became a defense attorney. Clark, 60, is a TV commentator, lecturer and novelist; her series’ protagonist is a high-profile L.A. prosecutor.
After his perjury conviction, the former LAPD detective, now 62, became a consultant for Fox News and wrote seven books on subjects including Simpson, Terri Schiavo and the Kennedy assassination.
Johnny Cochran & Robert Kardashian
Cochran, who expanded his law firm to include branches in 15 states, died of brain cancer in 2005 at age 68. Kardashian died from esophageal cancer in 2003 at age 59. He’s survived by his ex-wife Kris Jenner and their four kids: Kourtney, Kim, Khloe and Rob.
WITH 22 JUMP STREET’S
Fresh off her breakout performance as a gun-toting, sundress-wearing villain in 22 Jump Street, Bell is gearing up for an upcoming Comedy Central show based on her popular Web series Idiotsitter. PEOPLE asked the former Saturday Night Live writer, 30, to take a quick break from her budding stardom to play a game of word association:
Lovely. Every time I had to say something mean to him onscreen, I went up to him after and said, “You know, I don’t mean it,” because he’s such a nice person.
Difficult. I’m really bad at it.
Talented. I can’t believe how much he can do. I’ve always been such a fan.
Fired. Or forgetting my lines. Those are nightmares for me.
Weird. I went from working at Abercrombie & Fitch to being in 22 Jump Street. It took years but feels like a day. Life is crazy and wonderful.
Home. [Growing up there] I thought slot machines were in every airport.
Fierce. I’ve never said that word before! But it’s the first word that popped in my head.
Movies. I would love to just be making movies. One of my ultimate goals is to play a witch!
THE NEW SOUL MAN
When Mary J. Blige first met the man behind the soulful vocals of “Stay with Me,” Sam Smith was not who she was expecting. “She thought I was black,” the 22-year-old Brit tells PEOPLE. “I love that. It’s a huge compliment.” Smith was first heard on American radio as a featured artist on Disclosure’s “Latch” and Naughty Boy’s “La La La” but is now front and center with his own Top 10 hit. “I try to embrace it,” the singer says of the attention he has gotten for his debut album, In the Lonely Hour. “I’m quite an insecure person, and when someone says I’m good at something, I just run to the hills with it.” While Smith is appreciative of the audiences who pack his shows, his hectic schedule has caused his OCD to flare up. “I have really rough days,” he admits. “But I’m trying to live in the moment and make memories that will last forever.”
HAVING A MOMENT
POP CULTURE DRAGONS
The success of How to Train Your Dragon 2 got us thinking about some of our favorite fire-breathers
Pete’s Dragon, 1977
The Never-Ending Story, 1984
How to Train Your Dragon 2, 2014
Sleeping Beauty, 1959
Game of Thrones, 2011-present
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, 2013