December 12, 2005 12:00 PM

TO CHINA, WITH LOVE

While on a break from filming Mission: Impossible 3, Tom Cruise takes his fiancée, Katie Holmes, on a tour of the local sites—including a fertility bridge

When it comes to pregnancy cravings, Tom Cruise has Katie Holmes covered. During their recent stay in China, where he’s filming Mission: Impossible 3, the couple toured food stalls and were served such treats as pickled duck, candied lotus root and fermented rice soup at exclusive restaurants. On the Thanksgiving menu: work for Cruise, 43, who spent the American holiday filming in the river town of Xitang, and shopping for Holmes, 26, some 56 miles away in Shanghai. Two days later Holmes visited the Xitang set, where Cruise introduced his pregnant fiancée to the film’s extras, pointing with one hand to himself and the other to her belly. “He was holding her hand and looked really proud,” one extra tells Scoop. When the day’s filming ended, “he kissed her in front of everyone,” said another. The couple also squeezed in stops at Shanghai’s Yuyuan Garden and the Chenghuang Temple, holding hands, looking happy and relaxed. One more tourist moment: The parents-to-be walked across the Songzi Laifeng bridge in Xitang, an act which, according to local custom, increases fertility.

HOLIDAY GETAWAY

Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn took to the desert as they rang in their first Thanksgiving together, at the Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain resort, just outside Scottsdale, Ariz. Over the holiday weekend, the couple rented a $2,000-per-night private mountainside home with ’70s-style furniture, pastel shag carpets, an indoor dry sauna and Jacuzzi tub. The living room opens up to a tennis court, heated pool and garden. Between room service and spa treatments—Aniston indulged in a $200 hot stone massage, while Vaughn had some relaxation sessions of his own—the pair hit the gym (Aniston was spotted on the elliptical trainer more often than her counterpart) and rode golf carts around the resort’s grounds. Aniston and Vaughn aren’t the first celebrity couple to visit the Sanctuary: Britney Spears and Kevin Federline stayed there this past April.

The Show Goes On

Nope, they’re still not friends. But luckily for Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, their upcoming return to The Simple Life won’t require them to make nice. “If they’re still no longer speaking to each other, we’ll shoot them separately, and if they’re reconciled we’ll shoot them together,” a show rep tells Scoop. The E! cable network picked up the fourth season of the reality series FOX dropped in October. A new format will pit Hilton and Richie against one another as homemakers—cooking, cleaning—for host families, who will pick a winner each week.

CROWE ON CALL

He pleaded guilty Nov. 18 to throwing a phone at a hotel worker, but now Russell Crowe may have the last laugh. Hosting the Nov. 26 Australian Film Industry Awards, the 41-year-old actor walked onstage carrying an old-fashioned telephone. “If there are any problems, and you do get up here and go on too long,” he told the nominees, “then [say] hello to my little friend.”

Clooney Helps a Prisoner

A British yachtsman can thank George Clooney for an early release from a Moroccan jail. John Packwood, 42, had been imprisoned for 13 months in connection with a drug investigation that began in 1997, after authorities found cocaine on a boat he delivered to new owners. The actor, a friend of Packwood’s attorney, wrote letters on his behalf to Morocco’s King Mohammed, also praising the beauty of the country (Syriana, Clooney’s latest movie, was partially filmed there), and inviting the king to Syriana’s premiere. The result? A pardon and release for Packwood on Nov. 17. “The king received letters from Mr. Clooney about Mr. Pack-wood’s case, and they certainly helped his release,” a palace spokesman tells Scoop. Says Clooney: “It was the king who should be commended for his fair treatment of the issue.”

Five More Seasons

American Idol tans will have Simon Cowell to kick around for five more seasons. “I apologize, I’m sorry. You couldn’t get rid of me,” Cowell told Scoop Nov. 29 after signing a new contract with FOX to continue as a judge. Exact salary? “I think I had to pay them in the end,” quipped the man whose last contract earned him $8 million a year. The fifth season of Idol is set to air in January. Cowell adds: “Everybody now has a common goal, to keep the show at No. 1 for as long as possible.”

Couric on Campus

When University of Virginia student Jenni Allen returned to her room after Thanksgiving dinner, she found a note: “Hi Jenni, I lived here—Katie Couric ’79.” Says Allen: “I figured it was a friend playing a prank.” Couric, 48, touring her alma mater with daughters Elinor, 14, and Caroline, 9, returned the next day, telling Allen, “I’m always trying to get [my kids] to think about coming to U.Va.” Though excited to meet Couric, Allen wished she’d had a little notice. “I remember excusing the mess in my room,” she says. “It was a disaster.”

heart monitor

JOSS: A STONE ALONE

Joss Stone and music producer boyfriend Beau Dozier worked together on her latest album Mind, Body & Soul—but apparently not all was aligned. After almost two years of dating, they have parted ways. “Joss and Beau have split up, but they remain good friends,” says Stone’s rep. The two met when Stone, now 18, was 16 years old. Dozier turned 26 on Nov. 26. The songstress, who recently finished touring with the Rolling Stones, told Britain’s Mail on Sunday: “I still love Beau more than anything and always will. We realized the relationship had become a friendship more than anything else.”

A NEW ROMANCE?

Separated from his wife, Lori, Terrence Howard (Crash, Hustle & Flow) has reportedly taken up with a famous ex—Dayanara Torres Delgado, 31, whom Marc Anthony divorced four days before marrying Jennifer Lopez in 2004. Columnist Liz Smith says Howard, 36, spilled the details at a Hollywood awards show Nov. 13. Reps for Howard and Delgado declined comment.

Ivana’s Young man?

Ivana Trump’s fascination with younger men continues. The socialite, 56, attended the Nov. 16 Jazz Foundation of America benefit with Prince Max of Schaumburg-Lippe, 27. Gossip reports said they canoodled. Neither Trump’s rep nor Prince Max, who lives in Monaco, would confirm. “I am very passionate,” says the prince. “Ivana is amazing, gorgeous and beautiful, but beyond that I can’t comment.”

WHO’S COUNTING?

Kimberly Stewart and Talan Torriero’s engagement ended after 11 days. Don’t judge. A panda’s courtship only lasts about 72 hours.

Average American couple: Engaged 16 months

Torriero and Stewart: Engaged 11 days

Panda: 72 hour mating season

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