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The Insider

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A Time to Kill star Matthew McConaughey, Hollywood’s new boy wonder, met recently with Steven Spielberg and was so impressed he told him he’d hold off signing for a lead role with another director if it meant a chance for even a minor role in a Spielberg movie. So might there be a part for McConaughey, 26, in Saving Private Ryan (a World War II drama starring Tom Hanks that Spielberg expects to direct next summer after finishing Lost World: Jurassic Park 2)? Reps for both Spielberg and McConaughey stress that no deal exists—yet….

Ignore that tabloid report: Joan Rivers’s engagement to New York City businessman Orin Lehman is still a happening thing. While it’s true that no wedding date has been set, I am assured by her representative that the two indeed remain a couple….

Jack Nicholson apparently had a fling while in London with Christine Salata, a member of the onstage band in the West End sex revue Voyeurz, after Nicholson, 59, caught a performance last month. The two were later photographed in a car, and Salata, 24, told one of my sources that she and the actor “had a memorable night” and got together a few days afterward for what she called an “encore.” So how does a suave guy like Nicholson end such an interlude? According to Salata, his parting words were, “I’ll try to keep in touch.” He did, sending flowers to her flat, along with a note: “Thanks for everything, Jack.”…

John F. Kennedy Jr. may not have been listening when Veep Al Gore spoke movingly at the Democratic Convention about the death of his older sister from cancer in 1984 after years of smoking. The very next night, Kennedy, on his way in a cab from the Radisson Hotel in Chicago to hear President Clinton accept the nomination at the convention, tried to bum a cigarette from his cab driver. So says the cabbie….

Ringo Starr gave his wife, actress Barbara Bach, a diamond tiara for her 50th birthday and threw a party for her on Aug. 28 at their house in Beverly Hills. Revelers included Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Dennis Quaid and the aforementioned Jack Nicholson….

Breast-cancer survivor Olivia Newton-John will serve as host of Lifetime Applauds the Fight Against Breast Cancer, a TV concert special from L.A.’s Pantages Theatre that the Lifetime cable network will air on Oct. 21. Some of the stars expected to take part are Sheryl Crow, Teri Hatcher and Kelsey Grammer. Newton-John will perform two songs she wrote about her own battle with the disease, “Not Gonna Give In to It” and “Why Me?”…

Shirley MacLaine successfully lobbied the Motion Picture Association of America to rescind the R-rating on Evening Star, her Terms of Endearment sequel. She wanted the movie, due this Christmas, to carry a friendlier PG-13 rating despite some sexual situations and salty language. According to an MPAA source, MacLaine’s pitch included the argument that she had “never been in an R-rated film, at least not in this life.”