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LL Cool J: Mr. Nice Guy

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Most of the celebs who dine at cozy New York eatery Friend of a Farmer – Uma Thurman, Winona Ryder and Jimmy Fallon have all stopped in recently – like the restaurant’s low-key vibe. Not so with LL Cool J, who showed up for a blueberry pancake breakfast last week. “He was signing autographs and talking to everyone. He went out of his way to be nice to everybody,” says a spy of the rapper-actor. “When he left, he got into a big limo that was waiting outside and waved to the crowd.” LL (real name: James Todd Smith) returns to the big screen in Justin Timberlake’s movie debut, Edison, due next year.

Gridiron Memories
Kenny Chesney came out last week to the Nashville premiere of Friday Night Lights to support his pal, fellow country star Tim McGraw, who makes his big-screen debut in the football film. Turns out the “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” singer has a bit of real-life football experience himself. “High school football changes a guy’s life,” he told us. “It teaches you to work hard and to have a goal and to work toward it, and it also teaches you to have a bond with a group of guys, and that bond lasts forever. If you play high school football, you’re going to love those guys forever.” Chesney also learned how to stand up to a challenge: “I was a guy who quit growing when I was a freshman in high school. I’d go out on the field and my mom was like, ‘Oh my God, he’s going to get hurt.’ I’d get hurt just while I was in the locker room during the celebration. I was a pretty little guy.”

In Concert
Bruce Springsteen got the crowd going at his Vote for Change concert in Philadelphia last week by opening with an acoustic version of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” before segueing into his classic hit “Born in the USA.” Though the show, part of a series taking place in swing states, is designed to boost John Kerry in the presidential election, Springsteen kept the tone light at least part of the time. “We’re here to fight for a government that’s forward-looking and humane,” he told the crowd. “If anyone’s wearing a bow-tie, come forward. It’s not too late to be saved.” Another Vote for Change participant, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, said she was not afraid of participating in the pro-Kerry concerts. “I think we feel like nothing else could happen to us,” she said, referring to the boycott of her group after she made an anti-Bush remark at a London concert last year. “We paid dearly.”

Demi and Ashton, Catherine and Michael … May/December romances are always in style in Hollywood. Now add quirky actor Crispin Glover to the mix. We’re told the 40-year-old Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle actor has been dating actress Courtney Peldon, 23 (who has done guest appearances on Entourage and Boston Public), since her publicist introduced them five months ago. The two recently went to a classical music concert and have dined at famed restaurant Spago – but mostly, “we watch old movies and ride around in his Bentley,” says Peldon.

Caught in the Act
Spotted Recently:
Alec Baldwin, dining with an attractive brunette at New York eatery Da Silvano.

• Former Cosby Show star and Lenny Kravitz ex Lisa Bonet, dining at Axe in Venice Beach with a female companion. A spy says she was very friendly to the staff.