By Danielle Anderson
Updated October 17, 2005 12:00 PM


It’s not 1492, but English actor Orlando Bloom just discovered America. “As a Brit I’ve experienced New York and L.A., but I’ve never understood what the ‘heartland of America’ meant,” says Bloom, 28, of filming Elizabethtown in Kentucky. “People were bringing cakes to the set. At a coffee bar two girls offered to knit me a scarf. I was like, ‘Wow, I get this America.’ ” But not everyone got him: “Somebody tried to save my soul at a gas station. [Director] Cameron Crowe asked the guy, ‘Did you see Lord of the Rings?’ The guy says, ‘No, try me again.’ Cameron says, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean?’ The guy says, ‘No, but if he’s from Hollywood, he needs soul-saving.’ ”


“Having breast cancer has been a funny journey—it’s not one I expected to be on,” says Melissa Etheridge, 44, whose disease is in remission. “I expected to be a rock star and, thank you very much, good night! But this has focused my thoughts. Success is no longer the absolute, most important thing in my life. It’s the success inside, and of my loves, which is a part of me. And to live, knowing the power I have in my body.” The singer hopes to have kids with partner, actress Tammy Lynn Michaels, 30. “We thought about children before the diagnosis but were sidetracked,” says Etheridge, whose greatest-hits album drops Oct. 4. “Now we’re back to the thinking part. I love my two children [daughter Bailey Jean, 8, and son Beckett, 6] very much, but I share them [with ex Julie Cypher]. That’s the most heartbreaking thing I do. I look forward to bringing more children into a loving home and having them there my entire life. It could heal a lot of things that have happened to me.”

Starring in the hit comedy series The Office has earned Ricky Gervais devotees worldwide—some more A-list than others. “Madonna came up to me recently and said, ‘I want you to know that I’m your biggest fan,'” says Gervais, 44, who spoke at the recent New Yorker Festival in Manhattan. “I said, ‘Who are you?’ Luckily she laughed and said, ‘I’m Paris Hilton!’ Then she went on about how she would even clean my floor.” So, did Gervais, who now stars in the HBO comedy Extras, accept the Material Mom’s offer? Says Gervais: “It would have been surreal, but I didn’t. You know, I don’t think of Madonna as sitting at home in her curlers with Guy, watching telly.”