December 14, 2005 06:00 AM

One young Tom Cruise fan felt like he’d won a trip to the wild blue yonder when he was treated to a conversation about aviation with the Top Gun star after a recent soccer game.

Cruise – who was cheering on the sidelines of daughter Isabella’s match in Beverly Hills with fiancée Katie Holmes – was approached by 10-year-old student pilot Nick Sands, who’d been playing on a neighboring field. Nick expressed his knowledge of The Blue Angels military flying squad, F14s fighter jets and P-51 planes and Cruise responded, “Wow, you know your stuff.”

Nick also asked the actor why a sequel to his hit 1986 film had never been made. His response? The scripts just weren’t good enough. And even though Holmes was by his side during their 30-minute-long chat, young Nick never talked to her. “Well, I didn’t have the time because I was talking to Tom,” he told us. Sands’s father Michael adds: “Tom was the ultimate class act. They got along famously.”

Party Guy
Brad Pitt recently celebrated the wrap of his film The Assassination of Jesse James with a party at Calgary club Mercury. At the soiree, the actor thanked crew members for their work on the often grueling shoot, which included location filming in sub-freezing temperatures and snowstorms. Angelina Jolie‘s beau gave out wrap presents to the crew, including signed scripts, autographed photos of himself as Jesse James and long-sleeved shirts with “Jesse James” written on them. Pitt then flew out of Canada to join Jolie and his soon-to-be-adopted kids, Maddox, 4, and 10-month-old Zahara, in Los Angeles.

Reason to Smile
He lost his chance at becoming Donald Trump‘s Apprentice, but contender Josh Shaw says he s doing just fine. The 30-year-old entrepreneur is the chief operating officer of GoSMILE tooth-whitening system (sold at Sephora, Saks Fifth Avenue and other high-end stores), which was developed by celebrity dentist Dr. Jonathan Levine and is used by stars including Jessica Simpson, Sarah Jessica Parker and Lenny Kravitz. He’s also written the motivational book Who Invented Lemonade? (half of its proceeds will go to the nonprofit organization Austism Speaks, benefiting children with autism).

Shaw – who returned to The Apprentice to help finalist Randal in his ultimate task against challenger Rebecca – will appear in Thursday s final episode. So who does he predict will be Trump’s next right-hand man or woman? “”I think Randal stands head and shoulders above Rebecca, just on track record alone,” says Shaw, who’s expecting his first child, daughter Ava Violet, on Dec. 28. “He’s one of the most balanced and intelligent guys.”

Caught in the Act
Adam Brody, celebrating his 26th birthday at Medieval Times in Buena Park, Calif., with girlfriend Rachel Bilson, their O.C. costar Mischa Barton and some pals. Brody and his posse arrived in two party buses, and many of the guys were seen carrying wooden swords and shields purchased from the gift shop.

Carmen Electra, shooting hoops at a launch party for the Studio at The Palms resort in Las Vegas. Members of the rock group The Killers watched Electra’s moves on the floor.


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