ALL THE NEWS & BUZZ FROM HOLLYWOOD

RYAN GOSLING & EVA MENDES

THEIR BIG DATE NIGHT

SNUGGLED UP IN THEIR seats at a sold-out Don Rickles show in Los Angeles on Jan. 17, Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes looked every bit like new parents thrilled to be out on a rare date night. The couple walked into the theater hand in hand and “seemed very happy and relaxed together,” says a fellow audience member. Since welcoming daughter Esmeralda Amada in September, the ultra-private pair have avoided being photographed together, sparking rumors of a split. But their romance is still on, and Gosling, 34, is just “superprotective of his family,” explains a friend of the actor’s. “He’s created a cocoon of privacy while they raise their daughter.”

The couple (on Jan. 17 and, left, in 2013) “are even more private now after the baby,” says a source.

After months of shuttling between Los Angeles and Atlanta, where he was filming the upcoming The Nice Guys, Gosling is “cherishing every minute” with his baby girl while at home, says the pal. “He’s been wanting to be a father for a long time.” Mendes, 40, has been in full nesting mode, rarely leaving her boyfriend’s L.A. home. “The baby is not a great sleeper, so they’re tired but so in love,” adds a friend of Mendes’s. “[Esmeralda] is smiling and cooing and loves when Ryan sings to her.” The couple still aren’t using a nanny. Instead, their families have pitched in to run errands so the pair can focus on the baby. “For me, that part of being a mother at this early stage is the struggle of not being able to sleep and not knowing what I’m doing and really going through it with her,” Mendes told the website Violet Grey in November of forgoing help.

Mendes and Gosling, whose romance began in late 2011 while filming The Place Beyond the Pines, have no plans to wed, and that’s “just fine” with Mendes, says her friend. “There is barely time to breathe, but they are so happy with the baby,” adds another Mendes insider. “Eva is elated to be a mom.”

ONE to WATCH

LESLIE JONES

After 27 years on the stand-up circuit, Jones, 47, brings the laughs as Saturday Night Live‘s newest cast member (her rants on Weekend Update have become viral hits). “I’ve been a justice of the peace, a perfume salesman,” says Jones of former odd jobs. “But SNL is perfect for me. I get to play pretend every week!”

Take it from Chelsea & Elmo: Text BABY to 511411, or go to talkingisteaching.org for free parenting tips.

CHELSEA CLINTON

MY LIFE AS A MOM

For 4-month-old Charlotte

Clinton Mezvinsky, there’s no waiting for elected office— or even preschool—to bone up on current events. “I read her the news every morning,” says Chelsea Clinton, 34. And the former first daughter, who tells People that she and husband Marc Mezvinsky are “besotted” with their baby girl, is working on the Clinton Foundation’s Too Small to Fail partnership with Sesame Workshop and Text4Baby to spread the word that talking, reading and singing to babies is critical to their brain development. In Charlotte’s home, Dad reads in silly voices and grandparents Bill and Hillary Clinton pitch in. “We all kind of compete to see who’s going to read her stories,” Chelsea says. “Sometimes we wind up where one person will read one page and pass it to the next person.” She adds that Grandpa Bill walks Charlotte past bookshelves, “every time pointing out a different book and telling her that someday she’ll be old enough to read it herself. It’s so sweet.” And though, as a toddler herself, Chelsea famously objected to her mother’s singing voice, that hasn’t stopped Hillary now. “I’m like, ‘I’m so sorry, Mom,’ ” says Chelsea. “I love watching her sing to Charlotte.”

“He reminded me so much of Chris,” Kyle family friend Jacob Schick says of Cooper.

THE REAL STORY OF AMERICAN SNIPER

A DANGEROUS LIFE, A FAMILY’S GRIEf

It’s the year’s first blockbuster: American Sniper, the Clint Eastwood-directed film starring Bradley Cooper as Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, pulled in a record-breaking $105 million in its first weekend in wide release and nabbed six Oscar nominations. But the film’s success “has a bittersweet quality,” says screenwriter Jason Hall. “We intended to make this movie with Chris, and he died in the middle of all this. There’s a sadness in it, knowing that his wife and kids will carry on without him.”

Kyle had already begun work on the film, which is based on his own bestselling memoir about his four tours in Iraq, when he died at age 38 on a Texas gun range in 2013. The outing was part of Kyle’s work helping veterans with PTSD, and former Marine Eddie Ray Routh is expected to go on trial for capital murder next month. Kyle himself struggled with PTSD and wanted to share his story to raise awareness for veterans’ causes. As for the mantle of the most lethal sniper in U.S. history, “he wore that like a heavy coat a little bit,” says Hall.

It’s a weight that many of those closest to Kyle say Cooper captured with exacting detail. “The guy is an animal—the way he worked and trained so hard to be close to who Chris Kyle was is so evident in the movie,” says Jacob Schick, a former Marine who appears in the film and is close with the Kyle family. “When Bradley was down on the gun and he would sniff—that was something Chris would always do when he was on the gun. Chris always had dip in his mouth. Bradley did that too, but his was tobacco-free.”

But with the accolades and big box office numbers has come backlash. Filmmaker Michael Moore joined the debate over the film, calling snipers “cowards” but praising Cooper’s performance as “awesome.” Others are disputing Kyle’s 160 confirmed kills during his four tours of duty. “Everything has been documented,” says Hall.

Before the film’s release, Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle, shared her grief with People. “I miss him so much,” she said, and in a Facebook post on Jan. 18, she called the film “an honest path of Chris’s life.” Addressing her late husband, she wrote, “You are with me and I love you.”

BEHIND THE SCENES

Cooper, who added 30 lbs. to play Kyle and mastered his mannerisms, says he was “at the right time in my life to bring that kind of focus…. There’s something about how stoic he was, and it was all sort of in his eyes.” Adds Hall: “Bradley found his humility—and the reluctance that came with being ‘The Legend.'”

KATE GOSSELIN

LOOKING FOR LOVE

Kate Plus 8 airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on TLC

WHILE SHE MAY HAVE HER HANDS FULL with eight kids, Kate Gosselin feels like there’s one thing missing: a husband. Since her 2009 divorce from Jon, the Celebrity Apprentice star tells People, she’s been ready for someone new for “probably three years now.” Gosselin, 39, doesn’t expect a potential spouse to be a second parent to her 14-year-old twins and 10-year-old sextuplets, though. But she wouldn’t mind “the support,” Gosselin says. “This last year [especially] has been very difficult to manage.” Her one caveat? No more kids: “You go on the first date, and he says, ‘I’d really like another child.’ That would be it. It would be like, ‘Thank you for dinner. It was lovely.'”

A.J. JACOBS

OLIVIA MUNN

CHAT WITH MY FAMOUS COUSIN …

Bestselling author A.J. Jacobs is tracing his family tree, and he’s inviting all of his newfound relatives—85 million so far!—to a reunion on June 6, 2015. (Go to globalfamily reunion.com to join.) Each month he’s interviewing one of his famous cousins for PEOPLE. This month: Olivia Munn, 34.

Jacobs: You and I are distant cousins. You are my aunt’s husband’s fifth great-uncle’s wife’s first cousin’s husband’s third great-niece.

Munn: Is this going to end with you asking me for money?

Jacobs: It could be anything cash-equivalent.

Munn: So bonds are okay?

Jacobs: I know you did a PETA ad, but I have to inform you that your eighth great-grandfather was a prominent fur trader in Virginia in the 1740s.

Munn: Well, that’s not cool. But back in the day they didn’t have synthetic furs, and they needed furs to stay warm, so it’s different. This was 1740. You have to forgive, right?

Jacobs: You are Chinese on your mother’s side and German-Irish on your father’s side.

Munn: Yes, there’s a lot going on.

Jacobs: How did your mother’s family come to America?

Munn: My grandparents were Chinese but were living in Vietnam. They wanted to leave the country but couldn’t because of the war. The day it ended, my grandfather dug up the gold he’d buried in the backyard and paid for my grandmother and her nine children to come to America.

Jacobs: Do you feel like you got the luck of the Irish from your dad’s side?

Munn: Sometimes, yes. But I also feel like I have the work ethic of the Asians. My mom would say, “Get an education, because no one can take that away from you.” And I did. I went to college and got my degree.

Jacobs: Which celebrity do you most want to be related to?

Munn stars in the new action-comedy Mortdecai (Jan. 23).

Munn: When I was a kid, I really wanted to be related to Bruce Lee, because I felt like he was the only famous Chinese guy.

Jacobs: One of my favorite stories from your book (Suck It, Wonder Woman!) is that boxer Evander Holyfield once said to you, “I have eight babies by eight women. Do you want to be ninth?”

Munn: That was quite a random moment in my life.

Jacobs: If you had gotten together, you would have immediately gotten a whole bunch of new relatives.

Munn: Yeah, that’s not the way I want to get new cousins.

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