February 12, 2007 12:00 PM

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JEN SPEAKS

Having fun with tabloids? All in a day’s work for Jennifer Aniston, back in her first post-Friends TV gig

Jennifer Aniston has never much cared for tabloids—where, as she puts it, “people are ruthless and cutthroat and will stop at nothing.” But she had a blast visiting that world for TV. Aniston, 38, talked to PEOPLE about her guest role as a magazine editor on Courteney Cox Arquette‘s Dirt, the show’s much fussed-over kissing scene (Aniston’s character is gay)—and those real-life tab reports of plastic surgery:

What was it like working with Courteney again?

It was completely fun. We had a ball.

So what about that kiss between you and Courteney? The media touted it as a passionate lip-lock.

It’s a goodbye kiss. I don’t honestly think people want to see Rachel and Monica have at it.

Did you two laugh when it became such a big deal?

Of course! I think I won a bet. I told Courteney, “How many days will it take to come out? ‘Lesbian kiss! Lip-lock!'” It was a record: about a week.

Did you appreciate the irony of being on a show like Dirt, since you deal with paparazzi every day?

It’s a hard one for me to swallow. They’re bottom-feeders—but it’s also great television.

Currently, the tabs are having a field day over rumors about plastic surgery—your nose, your breasts. What’s going on?

(Laughs) It’s funny. I had [a deviated septum] fixed—best thing I ever did. I slept like a baby for the first time in years. As far as all the other [rumors], as boring as it sounds, it’s still mine. All of it. Still mine.

They’re still gonna run before and after pictures….

Short of letting everybody have a feel, I don’t know what else to do.

What gives you the most joy now?

Beginning a new day. When you see what else is going on on the planet, it’s pretty hard not to go, “Wow, thank you.”

SPECIAL FRIENDS

When Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel were spotted snowboarding together with a group of buddies at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on Jan. 25, it was, says a close source, just a friendly encounter. Ditto when he invited her and a few friends to hang backstage at his concert in San Diego on Jan. 8. “It’s all about having fun,” says the source, who adds that since Timberlake’s recent breakup with Cameron Diaz, “He’s trying to have a good time.” Of course, there’s a good time, and then there’s a good time—a distinction that was clear to witnesses (including an angry Diaz) who saw them at Prince’s Golden Globe party on Jan. 15. Surrounded by stars, Timberlake, 26, only had eyes for Biel, 24—also newly single after a fling with Derek Jeter—as he sipped champagne from her glass and leaned close to talk. In fact Biel was so smitten, she confessed her attraction to Timberlake’s date, his mom, Lynn. As Biel said, “He is sooo cute!” Just don’t expect Timberlake to crank the heat up too high. Says a source: “He is in no way looking to be in a relationship. He’s single and he’s happy.” Reps for both declined to comment on their clients’ personal lives.

A FRIEND IN NEED, INDEED

With his easy charm and bright baby-blues, pro-surfer Kelly Slater, 35, has become Hollywood’s go-to rebound guy. Why? “He’s sensitive and amazing to talk to,” says one pal. “He loves female companionship, and he likes to treat women right,” adds longtime friend Matt Kechele. The clincher? His easy-out clause. “He doesn’t mind being dumped,” says surfing buddy Tamayo Perry. “He’s totally committed to surfing.”

heart monitor

REUNITED

Travis Barker & Shanna Moakler

Are the Barkers back on after last year’s split? The two downed tequila shots Jan. 23 at Winston’s bar in L.A. Three days later, Moakler—who now wears her wedding ring—cozied up to the rocker at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Her rep had no comment. Barker’s camp denies a romance.

OVER (AGAIN!)

Lance Bass & Reichen Lehmkuhl

The former ‘N Syncer and the Amazing Race winner (who broke up briefly in December) have said bye, bye, bye for good. Bass—who shopped for his beau at a Sundance swag suite on Jan. 22 despite the looming split—tells Scoop he has “nothing bad at all to say” about his ex. “We’re good friends.”

UH, NO

George Clooney & Pam Anderson

Last week some print and online reports claimed that the Baywatch star recently had an intimate dinner with Clooney. This was news to Clooney (and probably to Anderson too). In 1999 the actor produced Kilroy—an ill-fated HBO pilot—in which Anderson had a bit part. And after that? “I haven’t seen her since,” he says.

SPLIT?

Kylie Minogue & Olivier Martinez

Could the French actor—who helped nurse Minogue through breast cancer—be playing the field? A British tabloid reports he was visited in his L.A. hotel room by two women (model Sarai Givati and Lost’s Michelle Rodriguez) in two days. Minogue’s rep calls the claims “rubbish.”

BRANDY’S FATAL CRASH

On Dec. 30, while driving 65 mph on an L.A. freeway, R&B star Brandy slammed her SUV into the Toyota in front of her, causing it to careen into the center divider. Then it was hit by another car. “The Toyota was crunched pretty bad,” says witness Tom Bowen. “Brandy was crying, saying, ‘This is all my fault. I couldn’t stop in time.'” The driver, Awatef Aboudihaj, a 38-year-old mother of two, died the next day. For his part, Aboudihaj’s widower, Hdidou Marouane, says “being angry at Brandy is not going to bring my wife back. This could’ve happened to anyone.” On Jan. 29, cops recommended that Brandy be charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence (which could bring up to a year in jail). While the L.A. city attorney reviews the case, the victim’s parents are taking matters into their own hands: On Jan. 30, they filed a $50 million wrongful-death lawsuit against the singer. “The accident was a terrible tragedy and Brandy’s heart goes out to Awatef Aboudihaj’s family,” says her rep. “But for legal reasons we cannot comment on this lawsuit.”

HARRY HOTTER

No, he’s not starring in Harry Potter and the Abs of Azkaban. Famed for playing the boyish wizard, actor Daniel Radcliffe, 17, revealed a surprisingly ripped physique in publicity shots for his next project, a revival of the play Equus set to open in London’s West End Feb. 27. Producer David Pugh says he had no idea he’d hired such a manly muggle: “In rehearsals, when he took his [sweater] off … we were gobsmacked.”

COX: MOVING ON

Never say never! Real estate mini-moguls Courteney Cox Arquette, 42, and David Arquette, 35, are selling their four-bedroom Malibu mansion—the one home they vowed never to flip. The couple, who also own a pad near Hollywood, should make a tidy profit: They bought the beach house—which boasts a dance studio, lap pool and an 80-ft. stretch of sand—for $10.5 million in 2001 and are asking $33.5 million.

A DATE WITH NEW YORK

No stranger to the dating game, Tiffany Pollard—star of VH1’s I Love New York and Flavor of Love—gives Scoop her recipe for romance:

• BRING ME SOMETHING

Preferably something sweet. If you can’t afford Godiva, that’s fine. Bring me a lollipop.

• BE CONFIDENT

This is key. A man should think he is the best thing since sliced bread and Red Bull and vodka.

• DON’T EXPECT A KISS

A man should not assume he’ll get a kiss at the end of the night—so don’t come to my doorstep expecting sugar!

• KEEP IT CLEAN

Clean breath, clean nails and good clean socks.

• KNOW YOUR ROLE

My man has to let me be in control and know that he’s with a woman who has great power. I am not going to back down.

Q + A

Smokin’ Affleck

Ben Affleck is out of hiding—and coming soon to a box office, DVD store and red carpet near you

For the last year or so, Ben Affleck‘s biggest role has been playing dad to 1-year-old Violet and husband to Jennifer Garner. But last month’s Golden Globe nod for Hollywoodland (out on DVD Feb. 6) and a new role in Smokin’ Aces has landed him back in the spotlight. The actor, 34, tells Scoop about early-morning baby duty, working with brother Casey and getting back into the Hollywood swing of things.

Are you enjoying awards show season?

The tilt-a-whirl is nice every now and then…. But, like anything, you can overdo it. [You just have to] keep it in perspective. You do these movies and you get on the carousel. Next year it’s somebody else’s turn.

You may not have won, but congrats on the Golden Globe nomination.

I was very happy. My wife was up early with our child and [woke me up] to tell me I’d been nominated—and to get me to change the baby. She got two birds with one stone.

You play a chain-smoking bail bondsman in Smokin’ Aces. You’re a smoker, right?

The whole week that I shot, I smoked, like, five packs a day. By the time the movie was over, I was so sick of smoking, I just didn’t want to do it anymore, and I quit. I have this celluloid record of the last time I smoked.

How was directing your brother Casey, 31, in Gone, Baby, Gone?

A pleasure. It was like directing anybody else, except I could fantasize that if it came down to it I could throttle him. I could imagine, “When this is all over, I’ll tackle him at Thanksgiving!”

What’s the most surprising thing you learned working behind the camera?

I now have a gigantic amount of sympathy for all the directors I’ve ever worked with. I wish to issue a retroactive apology for every time I was even 30 seconds late to the set.

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