April 17, 2006 12:00 PM


Katie Couric gets set to leave Today for the CBS Evening News

Katie Couric’s expected decision to leave NBC’s Today for CBS may well have something to do with her childhood attachment to a certain news show on that network. “It’s been her lifelong dream to do 60 Minutes,” says Extra executive producer Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey, a close friend. “She used to watch it on the bedroom floor of her parents’ room, eating leftover fried chicken.” Switching to CBS, where she’ll anchor the Evening News and appear on 60 Minutes, would be “definitely hard,” says longtime friend and CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien. “Being anywhere for 15 years and saying goodbye to the friends you’ve made, the show you’re so strongly identified with—where you’ve been incredibly successful—has got to be extremely difficult. At the same time she’s young and she’s got a long career ahead of her.” Couric, 49, was offered $16 million plus a year—more than what CBS put on the table—to extend her Today contract beyond its May 31 deadline. But the new gig would have a sizable personal draw, says Gregorisch-Dempsey: “She’ll be able to spend more time with her kids [Ellie, 14, and Carrie, 10].” 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt thinks she would be a good hire for his network: “I think she’ll be a big success,” he says. “Katie Couric leaps off the screen into your living room.”


Who will replace Katie Couric if she leaves Today? TV insiders say NBC wants The View’s Meredith Vieira for the job. She “is certainly flattered,” Vieira’s agent told the Washington Post about the former 60 Minutes correspondent and five-time Emmy winner, adding that she will “consider all possibilities.” But Vieira, 52, who also hosts the syndicated Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, has turned down other morning shows, reportedly because the demanding schedule would leave little time for her three children and husband, journalist Richard Cohen, who has multiple sclerosis.


As the countdown continues, Tom Cruise visits Germany

Not every expectant dad would leave his very pregnant fiancée at home and fly halfway around the world. But not everyone has a private plane and two pilots on call to make it to Germany and back within 24 hours. On April 1, Tom Cruise jetted off for a quick appearance on the talk show Wetten, dass …? (Wanna Bet?) to promote Mission: Impossible 3—even though the birth of his child with Katie Holmes “could happen any minute,” he told the host. “But [Katie] said I could come.” He was back home the next day. On April 4, Katie shopped at Barneys New York in Beverly Hills. As for gearing up for a little TomKat, “I’m preparing, but the [pregnancy fitness] courses, that’s Katie’s job,” Cruise told Wetten, dass …? “I’m getting ready. I’ll be changing diapers.”


Fret not. Paula Abdul is sitting tight at the judges’ table with a new three-year contract worth about $5 million, says a source. “Paula looks forward to her continued warped relationship with Simon,” says her manager Caresse Henry. (Cowell, by the way, has a five-year deal.) Soon she may have even more money in the bank: She’ll debut Paula Abdul Jewelry on QVC April 21. “It’s fun and funky,” Abdul, 43, tells Scoop. And unisex: Finalist Elliott Yamin wore an Abdul original on April 4.


Reaching finalist status on Idol all but guarantees contestants some kind of consolation prize—a record deal, a loyal fan base. For Lisa Tucker (voted off March 29), it’s a guest spot on The O.C., scheduled to air April 27. “I’m from the O.C.,” Tucker, 16, tells Scoop. She’ll play a student who returns home just in time for her senior prom. “I can’t wait.”


Though Ryan Seacrest has wined, dined and even kissed Teri Hatcher, it doesn’t look like romance is in the air. Seacrest, 31, met Hatcher, 41, at the Grammys, and they were caught on camera smooching last month. But when Access Hollywood asked Hatcher if she was attached, she replied, “I am not,” adding playfully, “One more time … I am not.”


With an average weekly audience of 31 million, it seems like the whole world is watching Idol. So when Wyclef Jean yelled, “What’s up, Angelina?” after his March 29 performance, Scoop wondered, is Ms. Jolie an Idol devotee? Maybe—but Jean was talking to his daughter Angelina Jean, who celebrated her first birthday March 18.


Chris Rock and Whoopi Goldberg were seated in the crowd April 4, directly behind The O.C.’s Rachel Bilson…. Idol hairstylist Dean Banowetz added red extensions to contestant Katharine McPhee‘s brunette mane “to go with the country theme and spice her up with some paprika hair.” … The slogans never stop—some buttons read “Catch McPheever,” and a group of Taylor Hicks fans proclaimed themselves Hicks Chicks…. And after McPhee urged Simon to admit once again that he doesn’t like country music, he did just that—on a night featuring guest and country star Kenny Rogers.


Calm after the storm: an arrest, then a Mandela visit

Naomi Campbell was a model of calm during a weekend humanitarian trip to Johannesburg last week, comforting children at a hospice and meeting with peace advocate Nelson Mandela. One day before, she was accused of smashing her maid over the head with her BlackBerry when she couldn’t find a pair of jeans. Campbell, 35, charged with second-degree assault, pleaded not guilty. Sympathy for the supermodel seemed scarce. “Who are you wearing?” yelled one snarky photographer as she left a Manhattan police precinct after her arrest.


March 30, 2006: Campbell is charged with second-degree assault after allegedly smashing her maid in the head with her BlackBerry.

Aug. 7, 2004: A housekeeper and Campbell file harassment cross-complaints against each other alleging pushing and slapping.

Sept. 15, 2003: An aide files a lawsuit against Campbell, claiming she chucked a cell phone at her. The suit was later dismissed.

June 2000: A personal assistant claims she was attacked by the moody model during an argument. Campbell accuses the aide of attempted blackmail.

February 2000: Campbell pleads guilty to attacking her personal assistant with a cell phone while filming in Toronto in 1998.

Sept. 22, 1993: U.S. modeling agency Elite dumps the supermodel. “No amount of money or prestige could further justify the abuse,” it says in a statement.


A year ago One Tree Hill’s Chad Michael Murray was married to costar Sophia Bush. This year? Murray is engaged again—this time to Hill extra Kenzie Dalton, says a source close to Murray. (Murray and Bush split last September after five months of marriage.) Dalton, 18—a high school senior and beauty pageant contestant from Wilmington, N.C., where Hill is filmed—and Murray, 24, started dating in December. As for Bush, 23 (right), who still works on the set with her ex, “she’s moved on,” says a friend. “They have a professional relationship.”


Kevin Federline got top billing at Club X in Dallas March 31, but wife Britney Spears was the star attraction, which seemed okay by him. Federline arrived to promote his new CD Playing with Fire at 11:30 p.m. The crowd of about 300 didn’t go crazy until an hour later, though, when Spears made her entrance. “Give it up for my wife for showing up at this event!” called out Federline, who rapped about being a “rock star” (“I’m spending money like it’s growing on trees, doing whatever I please”).

Q + A

Antonio On His Toes

In Take the Lead, Banderas puts on his dancing shoes to portray a man committed to helping New York City students

Antonio Banderas stars in Take the Lead, based on the life of Pierre Dulaine, a ballroom dancer who volunteered to teach in New York City public schools. Can swashbuckling Zorro handle a paso doble? Scoop spoke with Banderas, 45, a native of Málaga, Spain.

After rehearsing for this movie, could you win Dancing with the Stars?

I don’t know the structure of that program. I just use my TV to watch movies, news and sports. But no, I don’t think so. I would do my best, but I don’t think I would win.

How did you prepare for Take the Lead?

My house was built in 1925, and it has a ballroom and a place for an orchestra. So we cleared out the furniture and made a dancing school. I rehearsed there.

What’s tougher: Zorro’s sword-fighting or dancing in Take the Lead?

Zorro was very hard. It was five months of horseback. If I wasn’t busy doing one thing, they had me learning stunts. It was exhausting.

Do you and your wife, Melanie Griffith, tango at home?

No. We dance sometimes, at Christmas and holidays. We love boleros, and they’re easy to dance to.

Your daughter Stella [age 9] is here. Does she have rhythm?

Yes, she does.

So it runs in the family?

Yes. She is beautiful too.

The movie has an uplifting message. Are you religious?

I have to recognize that I am agnostic. I don’t believe in any kind of fundamentalism. I prefer to take life in a different way, with a sense of humor.

I try to teach my kids to be open. Whatever they believe is fine with me.

The women at your press conference said, “He smells so good!” We must ask: What are you wearing?

I wear my own cologne—”Antonio.” I started working with a company in Spain called Puig 12 years ago, and we developed four perfumes. The newest one is called Antonio. Last year we won a FiFi award—the Oscars for perfume!

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