March 03, 2003 12:00 PM

When Tom Cruise heard that the early-morning deejays at a New Zealand radio station had put out a $5,000 bounty payable to anyone who could deliver him to their studio for an interview, the actor phoned in himself on Feb. 11. Cruise, who’s in New Zealand shooting The Last Samurai, told them $5,000 wasn’t enough, but if they raised the stakes to $7,000, he would match that amount and donate the money to a school in New Plymouth, on the west coast of North Island, that was trying to raise funds. The station happily agreed, so Cruise spent the next 18 minutes chatting with the hosts.

In How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Kate Hudson gets the guy (Matthew McConaughey). It turns out she got the dog too. No, not the Chinese Crested that appears in the movie but an English bulldog, a breed of dog that she and her husband, Black Crowes lead singer Chris Robinson, have always wanted (he owned two bulldogs previously). Hudson was filming one day at Urban Pets Inc. pet shop in New York City’s Greenwich Village (a scene that was eventually cut from the film), when she fell in love with a bulldog pup staring at her from its cage. Hudson proceeded to plunk down $2,000 and took him home that day. Since the pooch had been bred in Russia, she named him Doctor Zhivago (now shortened to Doc). The actress reports that he’s grown a lot since then. “He’s much uglier,” Hudson says. “But uglier means cuter for bulldogs.”

Jackie Chan attended an acrobatics and acting school while growing up in Hong Kong and didn’t learn to read or write Chinese until recently. One source close to the actor tells us that to memorize his lines, including those in his current hit Shanghai Knights with Owen Wilson, Chan has a bilingual assistant read him the script in Chinese to convey the nuances of the story before he learns the actual lines in English. Of course, when the script says, “Jackie Chan kicks bad guy’s butt,” it needs no translation.

Angelina Jolie spent a lot of time on location in Africa while shooting Tomb Raider 2, which is just about to wrap production. This worked out nicely for the Oscar winner, who, as the Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, used her downtime to visit refugee camps. While in Kenya, Jolie made a $200,000 donation to aid the UN’s work there, earmarking $50,000 to build a new school for girls at one camp. This summer Simon & Schuster will publish the journals that Jolie kept on her camp visits, which included stops in Cambodia, Pakistan and Ecuador over the last two years.

Early on in Daredevil, the superhero (Ben Affleck) returns to his apartment from a night on the town saving people. On his answering machine is a “Dear John” message from his girlfriend, complaining that they never spend any time together. We don’t see the woman, but she has a slight Irish accent, not unlike that of Affleck’s costar, Colin Farrell. The voice, it turns out, belongs to Farrell’s older sister Claudine Farrell, who works as his assistant.

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