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'Panic' Attack

Plus, Celine Dion has a baby boy, Jennifer and Puffy confirm they're together, and more

INJURED Two weeks into production on director David Fincher's Columbia Pictures drama ''The Panic Room,'' star Nicole Kidman has had to back out due to a lingering knee injury. Kidman, who seriously hurt her knee during the shoot of Baz Luhrmann's ''Moulin Rouge,'' was not able to accomplish the physical work for ''Panic,'' in which she plays a woman who desperately attempts to hide herself and her child from intruders to their home (played by Forest Whitaker and Dwight Yoakam). Columbia Pictures paid a record $4 million for the script by David Koepp (''Spider-Man'') and got director David Fincher (''Fight Club'') to turn down other pre- strike projects. It'll be tough for the studio to replace the actress, since most A list stars are booked. Still, we know Angelina Jolie's available: ''Beyond Borders,'' the Oliver Stone drama that would have paired her with Ralph Fiennes, was recently shelved. But come on, Lara Croft vs. common burglars? That's no contest!

BABY BOY Now her heart really WILL go on: Canadian popstress Celine Dion gave birth to her first baby Thursday, Jan. 25, in Palm Beach, Florida. Rene-Charles, Dion's first child with husband/ manager Rene Angelil, was three weeks early and weighed 6 lb., 3 oz. ''The mother and baby are doing just great and are in perfect health,'' Dion's press secretary announced in a statement.

FAME IN COURT A famous name tops the list of potential witnesses in the criminal trial of rapper/ producer Sean ''Puffy'' Combs and Jamal ''Shyne'' Barrow: She is, you guessed it, Jennifer Lopez, whom the rest of us can see in her new movie ''The Wedding Planner'' (in theaters) or hear on her new album ''J.Lo.''.

Though both defense and prosecution teams submitted Lopez's name, that doesn't mean that she will be called to testify: A potential witness is someone who may be mentioned in testimony or may be called as witnesses. The singer/ actress was with Combs at Manhattan's Club New York on the night of the shooting that sparked this legal case, but she was not charged. Jury selection was completed Thursday, and opening statements are set for Jan. 29.

As for the current status of her relationship with Combs, Lopez told Regis Thursday that she and Puffy were still ''on'' (and her publicist, Alan Nierob, has been confirming that), but multiple press reports contend that they're broken up and dating other people. A rep for Combs would not comment on the record, but told the AP Combs and Lopez are still an item.

AWARDS ALERT They like her; they really like her. Two time Oscar winner Sally Field will receive the Board of Governors Award from the American Society of Cinematographers at the group's annual awards ceremony on Feb. 18. Field, who earned Academy Awards for the dramas ''Norma Rae'' and ''Places in the Heart,'' was chosen for her contributions to filmmaking. ''Sally Field has earned our admiration. She is creating a diverse and incomparable body of work, including many unforgettable films with memorable characters who will endure,'' said ASC president Victor J. Kemper to Variety.

CONGRATULATIONS Supermodel Christy Turlington and actor/ director Edward Burns are engaged after dating for six months. The soon to be bride and groom, both 32, had just broken up with other boldfaced names when they met in New York. Burns ended his relationship with actress Heather Graham last spring, right before Turlington and long term boyfriend, actor Jason Patric split up. No wedding date has been set yet.

CASTING ''Erin Brockovich'' costar Aaron Eckhart in talks to reteam with Julia Roberts in ''Project 3,'' a Revolution Studios thriller for director Gore Verbinski (''The Mexican''). Details of the project have been guarded, but reports say it will evoke George Cukor's 1944 mystery thriller ''Gaslight.'' Shooting is scheduled to start April 1.

TUBE NEWS NBC has ordered two new sitcoms. One is from Jonathan Groff, formerly the head writer for ''Late Night with Conan O'Brien.'' The untitled comedy follows a married couple who struggles through the husband's career crisis and the wife's major professional success. (Sounds like the James and Barbra Story...) The Peacock also picked up the sitcom ''Leap of Faith'' from ''Sex and the City'' exec Jenny Bicks. Taking a cue from the character Miranda, the new show revolves around a woman who leaves her wealthy fiancé for a blue collar lover. (Like THAT ever happens...)

Fox also greenlit a new show, the drama ''Forever Young,'' which focuses on a has been action star who becomes a private investigator. (Sounds like career advice for Ahnuld...)

DOWN ON 'LAW' Did you catch that ripped from the headlines episode of NBC's ''Law & Order'' this week? If you didn't, you won't get another chance. Bowing to complaints from Latino groups, who complained that the show sensationalized last June's sexual assualt spree in Central Park after the Puerto Rican Day parade, the network agreed not to reair the episode. (The Peacock took a similar step after the penultimate ''Seinfeld'' -- which showed the accidental burning of a Puerto Rican flag) ''L&O'' producer Dick Wolf called the latest NBC move a ''dangerous precedent.'' In the show's 11 year history, he said in a statement, it's offended ''Jews, Catholics, Protestants, African Americans, gays and lesbians ... liberals, pro- life and pro-choice advocates'' equally. A week ago, CBS' ''Family Law'' also used the Central Park assaults as inspiration for an episode, but it managed to avoid protests by not depicting a specific ethnic group as suspects, and by not being a top 10 show.

'ROCK' ON? In other NBC news, the cast of ''3rd Rock from the Sun'' taped a final episode this week -- even though the show may still return for a seventh season. Because the network hasn't officially announced the renewal of ''3rd Rock,'' the producers created a finale that has the alien family departing Earth as they arrived -- in a convertible, according to John Lithgow, who told a studio audience: ''You may be witnessing history here tonight.'' If the sitcom does return, it'll have to work around Lithgow's stage schedule: He'll star in a Chicago and Broadway bound version of ''The Sweet Smell of Success.''

BENEFIT Movie stars who sing -- and some who think they can -- will contribute their talents to album called ''Hollywood Goes Wild,'' which will benefit California's Wildlife Waystation Center, which helps rescue wild animals. Bruce Willlis, who scored a hit in 1987 with ''Respect Yourself,'' wrote and performed ''Crazy Mixed Up World,'' one of 11 new originals by the critter loving celebs. Others include Juliette Lewis (who actually CAN sing -- remember her jailhouse blues number in ''Natural Born Killers''?), Russell Crowe and his band Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts, Keanu Reeves (with Dogstar), Milla Jovovich (with band Plastic Has Memory), and Johnny Depp (who can currently be seen playing a steel guitar in ''Chocolat.''. The album won't be out till March 7, but it can be purchased now on the Waystation's website. Oh, all right, maybe it's not so far fetched. But we're still getting over ''Respect Yourself.''

MADONNA Those reports of Madonna starring in her husband Guy Ritchie's next film are incorrect. However, MTV reports that Madge HAS asked him to direct the video for ''What It Feels Like to Be a Girl,'' the third single from her album ''Music.'' The shoot will be in L.A. next month, but there's no word yet on when a single (produced with cowriter Guy Sigsworth and Mark ''Spike'' Stent) will be released to radio. That's because her current single, ''Don't Tell Me,'' is still climbing the charts.

ETC. USA Today reports that crime writer Gary C. King has signed a deal with St. Martin's to write ''The Texas Seven: A True Story of Murder and a Daring Escape,'' out March 15. (A TV movie is in the works, but, deep down, you already knew that.)

PBS' Frontline, which scored a 1998 ratings coup with a classy, thoughtful treatment of the Princess Diana story, is at work on a docu about Miami and Camp David visitor Elián Gonzalez. Though little Elián won't get to watch himself on PBS, which receives some government money but nevertheless critiques our government, his family does get free, comprehensive healthcare. If something about that last sentence makes your blood boil, write to your representative in Congress.

Originally posted Jan 26, 2001
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