December 13, 2004 12:00 PM

Marry Me, Mary

THE SECOND TIME’S A CHARM FOR FORMER BACHELOR CASTOFF MARY DELGADO

Who says love isn’t better the second time around? After being dumped by Bob Guiney on the fourth season of The Bachelor, Mary Delgado got the last laugh—and the last rose—as pro bass fisherman Byron Velvick dropped to one knee and proposed during this season’s Nov. 24 Bachelor finale. “I was glad that Mary tried again,” says Delgado’s Cuban-born mother, Juana, who, like everyone else, was kept in the dark until the telecast about whether Velvick would choose Delgado or Tanya Michel (see box). Initially Juana pleaded with Mary not to return to the show: “I was afraid that [Byron] wouldn’t pick her, and that she would get hurt again. It was a very big blow for her when Bob didn’t choose her.”

But Delgado’s family came together to support her and watch the finale (taped in August) in Tampa while Delgado and Velvick were holed up in Los Angeles. “We were all crying,” says Delgado’s sister Juanita, 35. “It was very, very emotional.” Velvick scored points with his future mother-in-law by proposing in her native tongue. “[The proposal in Spanish] was the most special moment in the whole show,” says Juana.

The morning after the finale aired, Velvick, 40, and Delgado, 37, who have not set a date but hope to marry next year, flew to Tampa—where they plan to set up house—to spend Thanksgiving with the Delgado clan. “Mary’s been wanting this for a long time,” says Juanita. “She has this glow about her that I’ve never seen before.”

+ GOODBYE BYRON

Despite her peevish look in the limo after the final rose ceremony, The Bachelor runner-up Tanya Michel (left, with Velvick) has no hard feelings. “I’m a firm believer in the fact that if your heart’s not in it with me, please don’t keep me around,” reasons Michel, a schoolteacher from Piano, Texas. “I wish [Byron and Mary] a Merry Christmas, Happy New year, etc.” Michel’s only complaint She came off badly when she wasn’t chosen. “They made me look so angry. I had this creepy-girl face. My family was ail like, ‘Yikes, Tanya!’ ” So is she ready to start dating again? “Oh, God, yes,” says the single Michel, 32, whose local TV station has received e-mails from men hoping to get in touch with her. “The Bachelor is like a gigantic Match.com.”

What Was Behind Shelley Long’s Overdose?

THE FORMER CHEERS STAR IS HOSPITALIZED AFTER TAKING ONE TOO MANY PILLS. BUT WAS IT INTENTIONAL?

Last week a British tabloid reported that Cheers actress Shelley Long had apparently tried to commit suicide. The story was picked up by some U.S. papers, snowballed on the Internet—and met with vehement denials from her publicist. “Shelley took an extra pain pill,” says the rep, adding that the 55-year-old actress fell on the sitcom set years ago, injured her back and has relied on medication ever since. “She had a bad reaction.” After a short stay in the hospital, he says, “she’s home, and she’s fine.”

It was at least a bad bump in what lately has been a rocky road. In July Long’s 22-year marriage to investment advisor Bruce Tyson ended; in January they sold the house they had shared. “She had a hard time with the divorce,” says an acquaintance. Another observer who recently saw Long at a party says she “kept talking about how she couldn’t find any work.” Indeed, in recent years the actress, who famously left Cheers at the height of the show’s success to spend time with her family and pursue a movie career, has only worked sporadically. Her latest gig was a guest appearance on the ABC sitcom Complete Savages, which she taped Nov. 12, just five days before her hospitalization.

Still, says Savages co-creator Julie Thacker-Scully, Long, who has also filmed an upcoming guest appearance on CBS’s Yes, Dear, showed no signs of distress on the set: “She was on time, did her lines, was perfectly delightful to be around. This was a shock to us.” And the acquaintance adds that Long’s close relationship with her J daughter Juliana, a 19-year-old drama student, would make a suicide attempt unlikely. A source with knowledge of her condition—but not in her employ—seconds that notion, saying, “Suicide was never in her head.”

heart monitor

+ BEN AFFLECK & JENNIFER GARNER
Last year he spent Thanksgiving on his estate outside Savannah, Ga., with Jennifer Lopez, recovering from their hastily called-off wedding. This year? There’s a new Jen in Ben Affleck‘s life—and new hope, with Massachusetts-based Mom arriving in L.A. to break bread (and maybe a wishbone) with her son and his latest steady, Jennifer Garner. No longer hiding their affections, the couple “had their arms around each other,” says an onlooker who saw them picking up Chris Affleck at the Hotel Bel-Air on Nov. 27. “They seemed very happy and cute.” A day later, Affleck and Garner joined Kevin Costner and lovebirds Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn for a brunch at the home of Mike Binder, who is directing Affleck, O’Connell and Romijn in Man About Town. Ben and Jen outlasted then Says a source: “They were the last ones to leave.”

USHER & NAOMI CAMPBELL
For a date this good, no wonder she flew across the Atlantic. Begging her to come to Atlanta between travels from London to Brazil for a modeling gig, Usher took his girlfriend of two months, Naomi Campbell, to the Lobster Bar restaurant on Nov. 24 in his new, fresh-off-the-lot $367,000-plus Maybach 62. Then it was off to a Hawks basketball game (left). The next day, the two ate Thanksgiving dinner—complete with fried turkey, collard greens, macaroni and cheese and chocolate cake—with Usher’s mother, Jonnetta Patton, at her home in Alpharetta, Ga. “I think his mom really liked her,” a friend says of the couple. “Naomi is really charming in person.” And Campbell, 34, and Usher, 26, are still clearly smitten. “They giggle and laugh together,” adds the friend. “And I think she enjoys having someone send her flowers every five minutes too.”

THE OSBOURNES: Who Nicked Sharon’s Jewels?

“They may as well have ripped the heart out of me,” said Sharon Osbourne, after she and husband Ozzy were robbed of jewelry worth more than $3.7 million at their Buckinghamshire, England, home Nov. 22. The Osbournes are offering $189,000 for the return of nine trinkets including, Sharon says, a 24-carat sapphire ring (“an investment for my daughters”), a diamond necklace (“a 20th-anniversary gift”) and wedding bands (“[Ozzy and I] renewed our vows, and he had these made for me”).

Gwyn Sips

Another benefit of living in Italy: You get to see Gwyneth Paltrow TV commercials. In a slinky ad for Martini & Rossi vermouth, the actress, clad in a man’s shirt and not much else, hops up onto and over a bar to grab a bottle of the sponsor’s libation and starts pouring drinks. A couple take the drinks and leave—so Paltrow says, “Excuse me?” and the man returns to leave some bills on the bar. Paltrow, who had earlier filmed another commercial for the company, reportedly received millions and a promise that the ads—which also air in Australia—would not be shown in the U.S. or U.K. She’s not the only star slinging the drink: Others starring in overseas spots for the same beverage include George Clooney and Charlize Theron.

ONE WIFE TO GIVE

Last Sunday Desperate Housewives’ biggest audience yet—27 million—saw nosy neighbor Martha Huber strangled. But Christine Estabrook, who plays Huber, made a desperate bid with producers to survive. “I said, ‘Please don’t kill me. I’m begging you!’ ” Luckily for Estabrook, Martha will return, perhaps in flashbacks: The actress has already shot two more episodes, but she’s mum about the details. As for housewifey gossip about her castmates, says Estabrook: “All these women are so teeny Eva Longoria [Gabrielle Solis] is the only one I ever see eat.”

Ruben’s Health Scare

On Nov. 22—the day before his album I Need An Angel hit stores—Ruben Studdard was feeling ill and took himself to a Birmingham, Ala., hospital. Studdard, 26, who has recently tried different diet plans, was said to be suffering from exhaustion and pneumonia and spent three days in the hospital. “He has been exhausted, traveling from New York to L.A., and L.A. to New York, and then back to Alabama,” says his mom, Emily. Ruben was able to celebrate Thanksgiving at home, but according to a source, doctors have ordered at least two weeks’ bed rest for the American Idol star.

POP QUIZ

SpongeBob’s Tom Kenny

You don’t know the name, but you’ve heard the voice: High-pitched. Excitable. Exasperated, with hints of…cellulose. Tom Kenny, a Syracuse, N.Y.-born comedian, gives vocal life to the star of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and its associated cartoons. He talked, in a lower register, with Scoop.

Do they electronically enhance your voice?

Oh, no. It’s all real. Nothing is pitched up.

Is It a hard voice to do?

No, he comes easily. I can do him for hours and hours—singing, laughing, screaming, crying.

What is the essence of SpongeBob?

Very childlike. Unbridled in all his emotions, both his highs and his lows. SpongeBob is kind of bipolar. People think of him as being this unequivocably happy character, but they forget that he spends just as much time sobbing uncontrollably.

When did that squeaky laugh develop?

Very early on. Think aquatically, about that weird thing that a dolphin does when he sticks his head above water and shakes it back and forth [making dolphin sounds]. That immediately felt right.

Do you do other voices?

Gary the snail, who just meows. I do the Jacques Cousteau-type narrator. And a pirate named Patchy.

This may be twisted, but is SpongeBob ever going to score?

I would say maybe if they did a SpongeBob-all-grown-up show like that Rugrats one. Right now, anything romantic or carnal is so far off his radar that I don’t even think it enters into his holey yellow head.

Have you sat your 7-year-old son down and explained what you do for a living?

I have taken him to work. He really likes it. He has a much greater understanding of how cartoons are made than I ever did as a kid. My dad was an accountant. [Or] maybe he had a secret life where he was Mel Blanc or something. In 2004, it’s okay to come out of the closet and admit that you’re a cartoon voice.

ON THE BLOCK

TIMMY LEE’S N

PRICE: $2.6 Million

PLACE: Malibu

Rocker Tommy Lee plans to sell his six-bedroom, six-bath, 7,500-sq.-ft. house, complete with checkered past: It’s where Lee and ex-wife Pam Anderson filmed much of their infamous sex tape. Tragically, the home was also the site of the 2001 drowning death of a 4-year-old boy attending a pool party.

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