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The Insider

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“Nobody need speculate further.” That is the message from Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow, conveyed by Paltrow, 23, who called me to say that while she and Pitt, 32, are indeed together and in love, they have not become engaged as has been reported elsewhere. Speaking for herself and Pitt, Paltrow says that the media’s focus on their romance has gotten “totally way out of control” and that, lately, “even extended family members have started calling” to ask about their wedding plans. So what is the status of their attachment? “It’s very exciting to be with the person I know I’m going to be with, but marriage is a very serious thing,” says Paltrow, promising to call me again “if and when the decision is made.”…

Tom Connor and Jim Downey, the team behind Is Martha Stuart [sic] Living?, the 1995 parody of Martha Stewart Living, are again taking on the nouveau home-ec queen. Their paperback, from HarperCollins, called Martha Stuart’s Better Than You at Entertaining, is due out by Mother’s Day. The book offers Stewart-like advice, for example, to “middle-aged women having trouble finding available men”: “Should both aphrodisiacs and alcohol fail…use rope. A stout mooring line should give you the level of control you’re after.”…

The new DreamWorks studio has signed Michelle Pfeiffer and Sandra Bullock to provide voices for characters in its first animated feature, Prince of Egypt, and is also about to add Ralph Fiennes and Val Kilmer to the cast. The movie, the story of Moses, isn’t due until Christmas 1998….

Barbara Bush, practical joker? She certainly laid claim to the title last November when Kevin Costner and Don Johnson, in Houston shooting Tin Cup, a movie about golf due in July dined with George Bush and the former First Lady at the couple’s house. After dinner, Mrs. Bush asked her two guests to walk with her down the block to the home of one of her best friends, Mildred Kerr. Once there, Mrs. Bush hid behind, appropriately, a bush, as the two actors rang Kerr’s bell. When Kerr answered the door, Johnson asked for a cup of sugar. Before the stunned woman could react, her pal jumped out and yelled, “Surprise!”…

Ex-Saturday Night Liveer Julia Sweeney will play a newspaper reporter whose family moves in with her on Jules, a half-hour series just commissioned by Fox TV. The show was inspired by her own family’s experiences with cancer. Her younger brother Mike died of lymphoma last year, and Sweeney herself is currently in remission after having cervical cancer. “The challenge,” she says, “will be to do a sitcom about cancer.”…

Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal was doing promos for Nickelodeon’s upcoming Sports Theater series when, during a break, he plopped himself down on a seven-foot, bright orange, canvas couch in the cable channel’s studios in Orlando. Boy, is this couch comfortable, O’Neal kept saying. Grateful to Shaq for serving as host of the series, premiering in June, Shaq’s friends at Nick had the $4,000 couch delivered to his home, free of charge, a week later….

Big doings on his ranch almost kept Carl Weathers from attending the 20th-anniversary party for the movie Rocky, held March 16 at the Official All-Star Cafe in New York City. When he’s not acting, Weathers, who played Apollo Creed in four Rockys, raises cattle near Seattle. He made the Gotham trip, he said, to see Sylvester Stallone, but kept in constant phone touch with his 400-acre ranch. What did he miss? Two calves were born, a boy and a girl.