We believe you, George!

Clooney says he did not burrow into a woman's armpit "like a pig digging for truffles" nor make a remark about her caboose; Charlie Sheen: No fee love, only free love. Plus: Joaquin Phoenix -- call me Kitten, meow!

By Amy Reiter

Published October 20, 2000 4:15PM (EDT)

George Clooney would like to make a few things perfectly clear: He did not date that Elle writer, Deanna Kizis. He did not burrow his nose into her armpit "like a pig digging for truffles." Nor was he moved to tell her "Your ass looks great in those pants."

An article in Elle implying that Clooney was the star of "The Thin Red Line" who did just those things (a photo of the former "ER" star runs on the cover of the issue in which the article appears, along with the teaser "Don't Date George Clooney") has prompted the actor to fire off a letter of complaint.

"You put my name on the cover of your magazine in a story that has nothing to do with me," writes Clooney. "I am not the actor in the story entitled 'Don't Date George Clooney.' The article is so deceptive that my parents called to ask me about it." (Heartbreaking, no?)

"So, what do I do? I can't sue," Clooney continues. "No malicious intent. No criminal charges, obviously. No big deal. I guess I could get the boys together and egg your house."

Or he could skewer the editors, who have since apologized for "any misunderstanding," with his rapier wit. "Since you don't want to 'date' me, then I suggest you don't get to screw me, either," he says. "Not without flowers and candy."

Is that a hint?

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OK, show of hands. Who believes him?

"She is not only beautiful but also very deep."

-- Michael Douglas on Catherine Zeta-Jones, who has apparently determined that she's thin enough to marry him on Nov. 18.

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Name calling

Note to Mark Wahlberg: Joaquin Phoenix does not love it when you call him names.

It seems Wahlberg had the damnedest time pronouncing Phoenix's first name (pronounced "Wah-Keen") when the two worked together on "The Yards."

"I never had anybody butcher my name worse than Wahlberg," Phoenix told gossipist Baird Jones at the film's New York premiere. "He started off calling me Yo-Hooker Phoenix, then it morphed into Hakeem, and at the end Marky Mark was calling me Rakeem, like I was some kind of rapper."

But hey, Phoenix is used to people messing up his moniker. "When I go out with the ladies," he says, "I don't force them to try to pronounce my first name. I tell them I like to go by the nickname Kitten."

That's Mister Kitten to you, Marky Mark.

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Stiffness explained

"Tipper keeps my shoes nailed to the floor so that I don't lose touch with gravity."

-- Al Gore, hammering home, yet again, his love for his wife, whom he loves very much, in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone, a magazine he may love, but not nearly as much as he loves his wife.

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Juicy bits

Charlie Sheen: innocent victim? The actor believes he got a bum rap in the whole Heidi Fleiss black book scandal. "I was kind of put in the sacrificial lamb role," he tells the upcoming issue of Us Weekly. "And, yeah, I was as involved as anybody. I mean, I really chased it." But nowadays he's less inclined to shell out for sex. "I have tried it since, in sobriety," he says, "and it was depressing."

He may have recently split up with his wife of three years, but Macaulay Culkin is no longer home alone. He's just made a play to relaunch his acting career by starring in the world premiere of Richard Nelson's "Madame Melville" on the West End stage. And the London critics are hailing his turn as a boy who learns about love from his teacher (complete with a scene in which they act out positions of the Kama Sutra) as a great success. "I enjoyed it," one wag weighed in. "But he hasn't changed as much as I thought he would considering as he's gone through puberty." Ooof!

Phoebe and Joey sittin' in a tree? Lisa Kudrow has told a group of reporters that, in time, she's certain her character on "Friends" will become more than buddies with Matt LeBlanc's character. "It's inevitable, isn't it? It's just a question of when it will happen," the "Friends" star said, adding that she and LeBlanc "can see the writing on the wall" about Phoebe and Joey's slow-budding romance. "We have our ideas on what should happen to our characters, but I don't think it will carry that much weight." Hey, Phoebe, how you doin'?

Be afraid. Be very afraid. John Travolta is hoping to make a sequel to "Battlefield Earth." The first one, he contends, was "not the flop some people are trying to say it is." In fact, he recently told reporters, "by the time you factor in foreign sales and video, 'Battlefield' will gross more than $80 million." The critical drubbing, he says, was to be expected. "I did my research. Critics traditionally don't like science fiction. Many critics didn't give 'Alien,' '2001: A Space Odyssey' or 'Blade Runner' good reviews on their initial releases, but have since revised those opinions." Some people never learn.

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Miss something? Read yesterday's Nothing Personal.

Amy Reiter

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Celebrity Charlie Sheen George Clooney