July 12, 2004 06:00 AM

Creamy spuds, melt-in-your-mouth cheesecake … not exactly the fare one serves while in lean, mean training mode. But since production is slated to wrap up at the end of the month for Russell Crowe’s upcoming boxing movie Cinderella Man – for which the star dropped 40 lbs. – it’s no wonder he said thanks to the crew by treating 36 of them (including director Ron Howard) and himself to a sumptuous meal at Morton’s Steakhouse in Toronto. Having eaten there before (his favorite dish is reportedly Cajun rib-eye steak), the good-humored host knew his way around the menu and, with Master and Commander-like decisiveness, took to ordering all the side dishes that graced the table in the eatery’s private boardroom, including mashed potatoes, Lyonnaise potatoes and sauteed mushrooms. And when Crowe heard that his A Beautiful Mind costar Christopher Plummer was eating in the dining room below, he ran downstairs to say hello and invite the veteran actor up to join the crew.

She’s Gotta Have It
In the new movie Sleepover, hilarity ensues when star Alexa Vega and her onscreen crew take on an adventurous scavenger hunt. So naturally we wanted to know what Vega just has to have for her ideal real-life sleepover. “Red Vines. I love Red Vines,” she tells us. “If you are having a girly-girl sleepover, you have to have facials and stuff like that. Anything from the Body Shop. That’s what happens when my sisters have their friends over. I am more of a tomboy. I usually have all of my guy friends come over. We build huts. We make tents. We have giant battles in the backyard with airsoft guns and paintball guns.” Now you know.

Cause Celeb
Bono, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Williams, Quincy Jones, Danny Glover and Muhammad Ali are among the celebrities lending their names and voices to the new National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, opening in Cincinnati in August – to which Oprah Winfrey also has contributed a cool $1 million. Exhibits at the new facility will be aimed at understanding slavery in a historical context, celebrating the heroes of the Underground Railroad and latter-day struggles for freedom. Make a trip of it, and bring the kids …

Caught in the Act
Spotted Recently:
Gisele Bundchen and Leonardo DiCaprio, kissing and cuddling at a private party at Brazilian restaurant Churrascaria Plataforma in New York. “She is teaching him how to eat Brazilian food,” a spy tells us. “He ate a lot and tried the cheese bread many times.”

Jennifer Aniston, dining al fresco with five friends at Nobu in Malibu. “She seemed very happy and content and was sweet to the annoying people who wanted to take her picture,” a spy tells us. Also at the eatery: actor Stephen Dorff (Cold Creek Manor), and Pamela Anderson with a bearded companion.

• A scruffy-looking Chris Noth, walking down Ninth Street in New York’s East Village.

Rachel Hunter and her new boyfriend, L.A. Kings hockey star Sean Avery, “cuddling in the banquettes” in the swank Hamptons bar the Star Room.

Missy Elliott, celebrating her 33rd birthday at Miami hotspot Prive. Elliott arrived around 1:30 a.m. and partied until the wee hours in the VIP area with guests including Lil’ Kim, Timbaland and rapper Fat Joe.

Ashlee Simpson, playing a private show for the kids at Target House in Memphis, a cancer recovery house for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, during a stop on the promotional tour for her debut record, Autobiography. Simpson sang three songs and signed autographs for more than 90 minutes.

• Speaking of the Simpsons, Jessica and hubby Nick Lachey were spotted treating five friends to dinner at Chicago’s Sushi Samba. Our spy tells us the Newlyweds stars generously tipped $100 on a $375 check.


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