The final word on Gere and the gerbil

The truth about "that rodent"; why Sharon Stone won't do snorkel scenes; Nader endorsing Buchanan? Young Brits blow away the competition in the nookie sweepstakes.

Topics: Disney, Celebrity, John Waters,

You think Washington’s the only town with rumors in desperate need of dispelling? Ha! Hollywood’s got the little lawmaking burg beaten by a mile.

An upcoming issue of Movieline magazine rounds up the 50 most persistent (and toothsome) Tinseltown rumors of all time, and — sniff, sniff! — debunks some of my personal favorites.

For instance, even though your cousin’s best friend’s boyfriend’s aunt swears she was on duty at an L.A. hospital the night Richard Gere was brought in to have a gerbil plucked from his body’s own internal Habitrail, it just ain’t true. According to Movieline, Gere was in India on the night of the alleged rodent removal.

Reports that Barbra Streisand was in a porn flick back in the ’70s? “Totally fallacious,” Streisand’s handlers insist. And Bruce Willis does not insist on having the special-effects department in his films digitally sketch in a full head of hair. (One look at him in “The Sixth Sense” could have told you that.)

But, hey, here’s one that is true, though I must admit I had never heard it before. Sharon Stone has confirmed that she was so unpopular on the sets of two of her early films, “King Solomon’s Mines” and “Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold,” that members of the crew peed in a barrel of water she had to swim around in. (Talk about a lost city of gold.)

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Just a great pretender?

“I have never wanted to show the world how great I look without my clothes on, although I must say, I do. I look fabulous naked.”

– Aging rocker Chrissie Hynde, showing early symptoms of the dread disease one NP reader has termed mammarius self-approbitis, in the London Telegraph.

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Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader, together again for the first time?!

Washington wags are whispering about a new White House-focused political alliance between the meanie and the Greenie, who long ago joined forces against their common foe, NAFTA. The alliance was brokered by their mutual bud, former Reform Party vice-presidential candidate Pat Choate.

I called Choate, a key Buchanan Reform Party supporter, in hopes of getting the lowdown on this latest rumor. He confirmed part of it.

“They are friends … And I’m sure Ralph would have good things to say about Pat and his integrity, though he disagrees with him on social and many other issues” including abortion, says Choate. But, he maintains, the two men see eyeball to eyeball on matters of trade and international policy as well as campaign reform and “the right for third-party candidates to be in national debates.” He says he’d be “very surprised” if Nader did not pipe up with a hearty Buchanan endorsement.

Surprise! When I got Nader on the phone, he allowed that he’d spoken to Choate about Buchanan but shrugged off the rumors that he’d be shouting “Go Pat Go” any time soon. True, he says, “We’ve worked together on GATT and NAFTA over the years.” But stumping for Pat? Nader, who says he’ll decide early next year about his own presidential run, was emphatic. “Not for his campaign.”

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Tap-dancing catsup bottles of the world unite!

“There will be some adjustments to the cutlery, but all your feature condiments containers are safe. They haven’t been affected.”

– Disney theatrical producer Tom Schumacher, on the impact of upcoming cast cuts to the tabletop number “Be Our Guest,” in Broadway’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

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Juicy bits

Hugh Grant is not alone. Not to mention Austin Powers. According to a recent global sex survey, Britain’s randy young, ages 16 to 21, are getting more action than their counterparts in any other country, included the good ol’ sexually liberated U.S. of A. The study, conducted for Durex, a British-owned condom company, found that those shagedelic royal subjects had, shall we say, sausage with their pasties an average of 133 times a year, compared to 128 times for younguns in the U.S., 116 for German youth, 66 times for Spaniards, 69 for Mexicans (so much for that Latin lover legend) and a heart-wrenching 63 times a year for the average Singapore dweller. Do I smell the next Olympic sport?

Is Patty Hearst again following in the footsteps of the late cross-dressing legend Divine? The American heiress and onetime Symbionese Liberation Army kidnappee is slated to appear alongside Stephen Dorff and Melanie Griffith in “Cecil B. Demented,” an upcoming John Waters flick — Patty’s fourth — about a kidnapping. No word yet on whether you can expect to enjoy those kidnappers’ headstockings in fabulous Odorama.

The heck with that “you complete me” drivel. Cuba Gooding Jr. says he fell for his wife at a high school party because “She was the strongest girl I’d ever met.” The “Jerry McGuire” star tells the October Cosmopolitan that after complimenting his future wife’s impressive biceps, “I hit her, and she hit me back,” a practice they continued whenever they saw each other. “I’d punch her in the arm, and she would punch me. When I finally met Sara’s mom, she said, ‘So this is the kid who gave you those bruises?’” Hey, Cuba, you been giving out marriage advice to Tommy Lee?

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