A reminder of the good times shared by Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston—their lavish Beverly Hills mansion—is changing hands. About a year after Aniston filed for divorce, an anonymous foreign businessman is said to have paid $22.5 million for the 12,000-sq.-ft. French Normandy-style house. Weeks earlier the ex-couple had agreed to lower the price after the home languished on the market for several months at $28 million. The sale suggests the end of an era: When Aniston, 37, and Pitt, 42, bought the house for $13.5 million in 2001, they were Hollywood’s reigning royal couple. They spent two years and a reported $10 to $15 million renovating their castle. After they were done, the home, originally designed by famed architect Wallace Neff for the actor Fredric March, boasted a professional screening room, a spa, an art studio—and a room they had designated as the nursery. (“It’s time. It’s time,” Pitt told PEOPLE in 2004 when asked about the couple’s baby plans.) Aniston later admitted that she never cared for Pitt’s modern—and somewhat uncomfortable—design style. When asked what she liked about being on her own, Aniston quipped to Vanity Fair last year, “I can have a comfortable couch.” Good thing she held on to the little cottage she bought in 1995. “It’s teeny-teeny tiny,” she told Vogue in 2002. “But it’s my favorite place in the world.”


Jennifer Aniston didn’t let pouring rain dampen her spirits at the L.A. premiere of her movie Friends with Money March 27. The actress, in a black Yves Saint Laurent dress, practically skipped down the soggy red carpet under an umbrella held by her publicist—and evening’s date—Stephen Huvane. After the film, they partied with Aniston’s costars at the Skybar at the Mondrian Hotel. The following day Aniston flew to Chicago to celebrate boyfriend Vince Vaughn’s 37th birthday at Mia Francesca, a neighborhood Italian restaurant.


After being linked with a jazz musician and a landscape painter, Katie Couric, 49, has found a beer distributor—Washingtonian Jimmy Reyes, 43. He’s been seen with the Today host since last fall and attended her Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance benefit on March 15 in New York City. A divorced father of two, Reyes is also a Republican campaign contributor and a former fiancé of talk show host Laura Ingraham. Says Couric’s rep: “They went on some dates. She’s not dating anyone exclusively.” On another relationship front: Buzz escalates that she may soon leave NBC for the evening news at CBS. Says media analyst Andrew Tyndall: “She’s done everything she can in the morning.”

Jessica Extends Herself

This week’s Jessica Simpson news includes a plan to make money and a dream to give it away. Simpson, 25, known for her abundant, flowing blonde locks, hopes to launch her own hair extension line with stylist Ken Paves by year’s end. “You’ve got to do what you know best, and no one knows hair better than Jessica and Ken,” says her rep. As for her recent statement to TV’s Extra—”Definitely I know that I want to adopt. I want to adopt before I have my own kids”—a source close to her says that while she has no definite plans to do so, it’s possible, adding that she also wants to do work with orphanages by getting involved in funding and improving living conditions. But exactly how and when that will happen has yet to be determined.


Simon speaks to pressing issues

• On his Idol favorites: “I like Kellie Pickler and this guy Chris [Daughtry].”

• On his new show, American Inventor: “The crazy, mad inventions make me laugh—it’s just one after another.”

• On a favorite pastime: “I like the PS2 racing games.”

• On the Chris Daughtry controversy (over his “Walk the Line” rendition sounding like the band Live’s version):

“What controversy? That is a noncontroversy.”


Paula Abdul upped the anxiety on the March 21 show when she made it to her seat with only 30 seconds to spare. “She’s been late the past few weeks,” says an Idol source. But this week she arrived early and made time for new beau Tony Schiena during commercials. Once out of view of the audience, “they were all over each other,” says an observer.


Who needs a last name? Not Mandisa, 29, who didn’t use one before and sure doesn’t have to now that she is known coast-to-coast as “Mandiva.” Ryan Seacrest thus anointed her after fans carried signs with the name. Even Simon gave his blessing. “Yes, she is a diva,” Cowell tells Scoop. “She belts out the song like one of those old-time divas.” The signs have not stopped. Proclaimed one March 28: “I [1 heart] Mandiva!”


When Ace Young opened his shirt mid-song to reveal a scar on his chest on March 28, fans—and Paula—swooned. His older brother Ryan told Scoop the scar was from a basketball injury three years ago: “There was a lot of blood.” Do women really dig the scar? “It worked tonight, didn’t it?”


In the house: former contestant George Huff (he’ll tour in Nashville, Decatur, Ill., Louisville and Marrakech, Morocco, in the next few weeks) and Kristi Swanson, a.k.a. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Skating with Celebrities winner…. Elliott Yamin’s brother-in-law Chris was in the mood to dance and did so onstage with the warm-up comedian Cory Almeida…. During her performance of Beyoncé‘s “Work It Out,” Paris Bennett lost her microphone battery pack and it swung about, nearly tripping her mid-shimmy…. Ten-year-old Michael from Portland, Ore., dyed his hair grey in honor of Taylor Hicks.


Barbra Streisand: Singer-actress-producer-director … royal squeeze? According to Barbra: The Way She Is, a new, unauthorized bio by controversial author Christopher Andersen, Streisand has had a slew of famous lovers, including Princess Diana’s future beau Dodi Fayed—and the princess’s then-estranged husband, Prince Charles. After they met on the set of 1975’s Funny Lady, the prince noted in his journal (according to official biographer Jonathan Dimbleby) that she had “a great deal of sex appeal.” In 1994, says Andersen, “things heated up [during] a clandestine meeting at his suite at the Bel-Air hotel.” Andersen cites royal staffers as his sources for a rendezvous at Highgrove, the prince’s residence. A spokesman for the prince, 57, had no comment, nor did a rep for Streisand, 63. But in 1994 she did joke that, had their initial meeting gone differently, “I might have been the first real Jewish princess.”


Imagine a big-screen Dallas remake with Jennifer Lopez as Sue Ellen, John Travolta as J.R., Luke Wilson as Bobby and Shirley MacLaine as Miss Ellie. But don’t bet on a director just yet. Despite the long list of A-listers interested in the script by Robert Harling (Steel Magnolias), director Robert Luketic (Monster-in-Law) has walked away from the project. According to the source, he was unhappy with some of the studio’s casting. Betty Thomas (Doctor Dolittle) is considered a possible replacement.

A Baby Girl for Lachey

Drew Lachey has a new dance partner. The winner of Dancing with the Stars and his wife, Lea, welcomed their first child, Isabella Claire Lachey (7 lbs. 2 oz.), on March 23 in L.A. Dad’s already choreographing. “In a couple of years,” he said, “she’ll be dancing on my feet.”


Return of the Divas

Bitter rivals on Dynasty, Linda Evans and Joan Collins sharpen their claws for an onstage reunion

Seventeen years after their final slapdown on Dynasty, Linda “Krystle Carrington” Evans, 63, and Joan “Alexis Carrington Colby” Collins, 72, take their hair-pulling ways to Toronto this September with Legends!, a play about—what else?—two feuding actresses. PEOPLE’s Natasha Stoynoff stepped in to mediate.

So do you two really hate each other?

Collins: The stuff in the press about Linda and me feuding was total crap. Krystle and Alexis loathed each other—we probably just did too good a job. Evans: [People] loved the catfights! It was the public’s response the first year we got into a fight that made them do it every year for the next seven years!

What mementos did you keep from the show?

Evans: I must have 20 beaded gowns in storage.

Collins: I have a kimono that I wear all the time.

How did the play come together?

Collins: My husband, Percy, introduced me to the producer, and when I read it I thought, “This is Joan Crawford [vs.] Olivia de Havilland.” Evans: The two characters mirror Dynasty very well! I’ve never done a play before, but I knew I would have to take this part. It’s been about 10 years that I’ve just been living my life [in Washington State], so this is shocking, to go from the country to a red-beaded dress and diamonds.

Will there be a fight scene?

Evans: For sure. You’ll probably hear Joan screaming from anywhere in the world.

Collins: We haven’t exactly worked it out. But it will probably include some kind of slapping.

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