October 28, 2002 12:00 PM

So what did John Travolta give wife Kelly Preston for her 40th birthday? A trip to Italy’s Amalfi coast with four of her best friends. Preston and her guests flew out Oct. 12 (the day before her birthday), while the actor stayed behind to look after their two kids, Jett, 10, and Ella, 2. “My friends and I are going to stay in a villa for five days,” Preston said before the trip.

“That’s all we feel we can leave our kids for. We are guilty moms.” Her husband’s generosity didn’t stop there. On Oct. 11 Travolta threw Preston a huge party at Santa Monica’s Union restaurant, where pals including Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Nicolas Cage, Lisa Marie Presley and Christian Slater chuckled at an ice sculpture that had the words “Happy 29th Birthday!” carved into it.

Is there a script doctor in the house? Luckily for Salma Hayek, who produced and stars in Frida, the upcoming biopic about the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, there was. When Hayek ran into problems with the screenplay for Frida, she enlisted her boyfriend, actor Edward Norton, to revise it. Norton, who has done un-credited polishes on some of his films including The Score, spent three months working on Frida‘s script with director Julie Taymor. However, after nine months of arbitration, the Writer’s Guild decided to give final screenwriting credit to four other writers. Says a disappointed Taymor: “I know what Edward brought to it and it was humongous.”

Catherine Bell has three projects in the works. She’s got her hit CBS show, JAG. She’s also started shooting her first feature film, Bruce Almighty, a comedy starring Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston. Now Bell and her husband, producer Adam Beason, are expecting their first child in April. JAG’s producers already have a possible solution to deal with Bell’s impending good news. Look for Mac, the military attorney she plays on the show, to become a judge later this season so that the actress can hide her expanding waistline behind a robe and desk.

Justice is blind—even when it involves parking tickets and Hollywood celebs. Kirsten Stiles and Julia Stiles learned that the hard way recently. The two actresses, currently shooting the drama Mona Lisa’s Smile in Wellesley, Mass., decided to drive into Boston for a late showing of The Banger Sisters. When they emerged from the theater, they discovered that Stiles’s car had been towed by police. Although she had parked legally at the time, it was after midnight when the movie let out, meaning the space had become an illegal spot literally overnight. Says Stiles, who paid a hefty fine to recover her vehicle: “Parking in Boston is really complicated.”

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