August 06, 2001 12:00 PM

At the premiere of America’s Sweethearts in Los Angeles, we noticed Hank Azaria handing his costar John Cusack a die (as in half a pair of dice). Asked to explain the odd transaction, Azaria told us that while filming some scenes for the romantic comedy in Las Vegas, the duo had a run one night at the craps table. “We could not lose,” said Azaria, who won about $5,000, while Cusack pocketed close to $20,000. So Azaria, who kept the dice, gave one to Cusack at the premiere for good luck.

While making Vanilla Sky earlier this year, actor W. Earl Brown (There’s Something About Mary) found out just how nice a guy Tom Cruise can be. One night, rehearsal on a scene with Cruise ran late, causing Brown to miss an Elton John-Billy Joel concert in L.A. that he had been looking forward to attending with his wife. “You didn’t give your tickets away?” Cruise asked him after he found out. “Why didn’t somebody tell me?” When director and former rock and roll scribe Cameron Crowe mentioned that John and Joel would be in town on another night, Cruise told Brown, “You’re going to that show.” Three nights later Brown and his wife were sitting fourth-row center, compliments of Cruise.

These days celebrities are everywhere, including on the cover of the phone book. R&B great Al Green and ‘N Sync’s Justin Timberlake turn up together on the new directory for Millington, Tenn. (Timberlake grew up in nearby Shelby Forest, and Green lives in the area.) The phone company printed 29,000 copies of the “Superstars” edition, but demand is so high it had to decree only one copy per phone line. Residents can buy extras at $7 each, however, with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society. Timberlake’s grandmother, Sadie Bomar, tells us her famous grandson has requested 20 copies for himself.

Lara Flynn Boyle is one busy lady lately—and not just because she’s back with Jack. The week before returning to the set of The Practice on July 25, the lithe beauty received the call to replace Famke Janssen as the villainess in Men in Black 2. (Janssen withdrew to be with her mother, who underwent cancer surgery in Holland.) I hear Boyle was close to getting the part originally, but director Barry Sonnenfeld went with Janssen. The two production companies will accommodate Boyle’s schedule on a day-to-day basis.

While on a South African trip to raise money for the Special Olympics Africa, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver visited game preserves with their four children. At one, they participated in a lion conservation program with feline experts and got to dart and tag a few of the regal beasts. At another, they dined on ostrich and crocodile before a roaring bonfire in an animal-proof circular enclosure called a “boma.” The action star even accompanied former South African President Nelson Mandela on a visit to the cell on Robben Island where he spent 18 of his 27 years in prison during apartheid. Schwarzenegger joins Bill Clinton as one of the few to make that trip with Mandela.

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