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FLASHES

JEAN PULL: What does the Gap love more than button-fly jeans? Winona Ryder. The clothing store plays a big part in Ryder's new Reality Bites, thanks to the actress. ''We needed their permission to use their name,'' says director Ben Stiller. ''I tried to schmooze the Gap people, our producer tried to schmooze them. Then we had this idea. Why not let Winona give it a shot?'' So Ryder made a few calls and it was promptly, ''Anything you want, Winona.'' Why the change of heart? Ryder agreed to make a promotional tape for workers, which has so far been a hit. Says one employee at a Chicago Gap, ''You're expecting the company president and all of a sudden, it's the girl from The Age of Innocence!'' Does Ryder gets a discount, too? -Cindy Pearlman He's got a secret: Here's a Paul McCartney rumor that has nothing to do with a Beatles reunion: The Cute One is the guiding light behind The Fireman's Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest, a rave hit with British club hoppers that's just been released in the U.S. Although the album's press release says ''The Fireman is the...nom de plume of two solo recording artists,'' an internal memo names names. ''This album was recorded by Paul McCartney and the British producer Youth (U2). Paul would like his identity to remain a secret.'' Why so hush-hush? ''McCartney is savvy enough to realize that it's a solid genre record, but a marketing nightmare,'' says a label insider. ''The record appeals to a cult audience that would never in a million years risk their street cred.'' The singer won't comment. -Vicki Arkoff and Jeff Gordinier

BLOCK PARTY: It's the tag sale of the century: Barbra Streisand is auctioning off her Art Deco and Art Nouveau collection at Christie's on March 3 and 4. Streisand won't be at the sale (''It's too difficult for her to watch,'' says a Christie's spokesman) and apparently neither will her No. 1 fan, Richard Simmons. ''I'm scared to go,'' says the fitness guru, who is instead sending people to ''look for something endearing.'' Mike Myers won't be attending either, but his mother-in-law, Linda Richman, the inspiration for his ''Coffee Talk'' character will ''definitely be going,'' says a Saturday Night Live spokeswoman. And where will the money go? ''To Streisand,'' says the Christie's spokesman. Sheer buttah. -Melina Gerosa

STONE'S SHOWDOWN: What Sharon Stone wants Sharon Stone gets. And what she wanted on the set of TriStar's The Quick and the Dead was for Australian actor Russell Crowe to play her lover. Stone saw Crowe, touted as the next Mel Gibson, in 1993's Romper Stomper. The hitch? ''The word came down from the studio,'' recalls Crowe, ''(They said), 'We don't know who's going to play this character, but it's not going to be (you).''' Yet Stone, who also coproduces the film, dug in her spurs and scheduled a screen test. ''The studio went berserk,'' says Stone, ''but people don't threaten me a lot. I don't take a bluff.'' Eventually, Crowe agreed to work for scale and the studio caved in. ''It was clear it had to be Russell,'' says Stone, explaining her actions. ''You can tell when a role belongs to a person.'' Especially when Stone says it does. -Bart Mills

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