December 08, 2003 12:00 PM

Simon Scowl

Paula Abdul is a softie, but even she gets snippy in the new American Idol video game, which gives players control over contestants. “We’re way more brutal in the game than on TV,” says Abdul, 41, who did voice-overs with costars Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson. The virtual Abdul drops insults like, ‘You didn’t fall over—that’s a bonus!’ Her pixilated incarnation also dresses differently. “Obviously men drew it. I have the deepest plunging neckline. It goes down to my navel.” But Abdul made sure one thing was dead-on: “Me rolling my eyes at Simon.”

Gratuitous Violins

He’s fought corrupt emperors and South American guerrillas, but Russell Crowe insists his toughest onscreen foe came with four strings and a bow. “You can take your tiger fights and your swords—the violin was a harsh mistress,” says Crowe, 39, who, despite fronting the band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, had never tackled the classical instrument before filming Master and Commander. The actor practiced almost 20 hours a week for several months to play a British naval captain with a love for music. “I made a pact that I had to know in my heart I could make a beautiful sound out of the violin,” says Crowe. “I knew someone would do my bits and straighten it up, but I mean, you have to learn how to do the fingering first.”

Full House

Although John Stamos is currently staying in New York City while starring in the Broadway musical Nine, the actor says his relationship with L.A.-based wife Rebecca Romijn-Stamos has never been better. “About a year ago we went through a difficult time, because we were apart too much. So we made a pact to spend more time together,” says Stamos, 40, whose wife flies in from L.A. frequently. “We’re happier than we’ve ever been in our marriage.” The actor’s Manhattan digs do have one drawback. “Our elevator opens right into the apartment, so if we have an argument, I have to wait for it to get there. It can be awkward.”

Big Wheels

Kim Cattrall admits she doesn’t spend much time with the kids of her Sex and the City costars Sarah Jessica Parker and Cynthia Nixon. “I don’t play with them. I don’t think I’m really a baby person,” says Cattrall, 47. “I love to watch mothers and their babies—that warms me. But I’m always scared that they’re going to fall or get something on me, like spit. I’m not completely comfortable with it. I like them better when they get older and have driver’s licenses.”

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