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PASSAGES: Tom, Gwyneth Fly Down Under

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LOCATED: Tom Cruise, 40, and Gwyneth Paltrow, 30, have begun work on separate movies at opposite ends of New Zealand, the land where “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy was shot, the Associated Press reports. Cruise flew into the provincial city of New Plymouth on North Island’s west coast Monday to begin a three-month shoot on “The Last Samurai,” first stopping to greet fans upon his arrival, AP says. Paltrow, meanwhile, began work Monday in the southern city of Dunedin on “Ted and Sylvia,” a film about the tragic life of poet Sylvia Plath and her husband, Ted Hughes. Local media reported that Chris Martin of the band Coldplay and her mother, actress Blythe Danner, were accompanying the “Shakespeare in Love” Oscar winner.

REVIVED: Former “Politically Incorrect” host Bill Maher, 46, who made what were deemed inappropriate post-9/11 remarks that led to his show’s cancellation, will debut on a new televised current-events forum, “Real Time with Bill Maher,” set to debut Feb. 21on HBO, it was announced at this week’s Television Critics Association’s winter press tour. Also confirmed, reports Variety: “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” has been picked up by NBC-owned stations, while “The Sharon Osbourne Show” was snapped up by Tribune outlets. Both talk shows are produced by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution (which, like HBO and PEOPLE, are part of AOL Time Warner).

BORN: Christa Miller, 36, of ABC’s “The Drew Carey Show” (she plays Kate O’Brien), gave birth Friday to a 7 lb. 6 oz. boy named William Stoddard Lawrence, her publicist announced Monday. Miller and her husband, “Scrubs” executive producer Bill Lawrence, have a 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Charlotte. Miller also sometimes appears on “Scrubs.”

BUSTED: Billie Joe Armstrong, 30, the singer for Bay Area-born rock group Green Day, was arrested in Berkeley over the weekend on suspicion of drunk driving, a police spokeswoman tells the Contra Costa (Calif.) Times. Armstrong, who lives in nearby Oakland, was driving a black 2002 BMW convertible, said Mary Kusmiss.

DIED: Cutting Crew founder-guitarist Kevin Macmichael, 51, died on New Year’s Eve after a two-year battle with lung cancer. The Grammy-nominated group was best-known for 1986’s “(I Just Died) In Your Arms Tonight.” Born in Nova Scotia, Canada, Macmichael had moved to England and formed Cutting Crew in 1985 with singer Nick Van Eede. They then signed with a brand new label, called Virgin. The group broke up in 1993.