Pricey international call?: When Russell Crowe was trying to call his wife in Australia from the Mercer Hotel a few months ago he simply couldn't get through, and things turned ugly when the actor went downstairs to the front desk to complain. A security tape reportedly shows Crowe attacking porter Nestor Estrada with a phone, then throwing a vase at him and taking a bow. The call could seriously hurt Crowe's career -- if convicted of assault and possession of a weapon, he could find himself banned from entering the United States. Now there is some confusion over whether Crowe is trying to cut a deal to keep the case out of the courtroom. The London Daily Mail writes that Crowe's lawyers are close to finishing a deal with Estrada that will keep the episode out of the courts and leave Estrada with a payment of $11 million, quoting a source close to the actor: "Russell has been hit where it hurts with this one. His ego is bruised and his wallet is grief-stricken but he knows going to court isn't an option. He absolutely needs this to go away and it will." Yet Crowe's lawyers have responded that the deal rumor is just not true. "It doesn't exist," Crowe's lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, told the New York Daily News on Sunday. Estrada's lawyer, Eric Franz, also denied the story: "It's preposterous and bewildering as to why anybody would put out a story like that," he said. Crowe is scheduled to appear in a Manhattan court on Sept. 14 for a hearing -- giving him a few weeks to finalize a deal. (Daily Mail, NY1, NewYork Daily News)
It's visiting time with Judith Miller!: Times reporter Judith Miller is working on her second month in a Virginia jail, but it's nice to know she hasn't been entirely lonely in there. Miller's still keeping mum regarding her source in the Valerie Plame scandal, but she's apparently had plenty of people to chat with during her visiting hours. Page Six says her visitor list may have so far included Tom Brokaw, Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger, and almost-cellmate Matt Cooper of Time -- as well as a Times cadre including publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., executive editor Bill Keller, and former editor Abe Rosenthal. Of course her husband, Jason Epstein, has been in to see her, too (when he' wasn't taking a cruise). But we shouldn't get the notion that visiting the Arlington prison is now de riguer for powerful media types. "They're just her friends," her lawyer Robert Bennett assures the Post. "She gets 30 minutes a day to take visitors. Tom Brokaw was there as a friend, not because [it's fashionable]." (Page Six, Reg. Req'd.)
Paula Abdul keeps her job : It looks like "American Idol" won't need to audition for a new judge after all. After a three-month investigation, Fox has decided there's not enough evidence that Abdul had an affair with "Idol" finalist Corey Clark. The inquiry was sparked by Clark's accusation that he and Abdul had a fling during an episode on "Primetime Live" in May, and it looked like Fox was poised to ax Abdul if the allegations proved true. "I'm grateful this ordeal is over, and I'm so looking forward to getting back to the job I love," Abdul said in a statement. "Once again, I thank my fans from throughout the world for their undying love and support." (USA Today)
Paris dumps her littlest friend: Celebrity breakups are always hard, even more so when the one getting left behind can't possibly tell her side of the story to some glossy magazine. Paris Hilton has decided she needs someone younger, so is dumping her once-minuscule Chihuahua Tinkerbell for an even smaller dog named Bambi. Paris insists that it's only because Tink has some sharing issues: "I still have Tinkerbell and I love her, too, but she gets jealous and she bites him when I'm holding both of them." But a friend told New York magazine that she "only likes them when they're very small, and Tinkerbell got too big." The whole thing might actually be the fault of Paris' bad parenting -- a dog breeder familiar with teacup Chihuahuas says, "Tinkerbell is at the larger end of the teacups. Usually, they won't go over 3.5 pounds, but if you fix them or feed them junk ..." (News.com.au)
Cameron Diaz may be following in Angelina Jolie's footsteps sometime soon -- not Cambodian citizenship-wise, but in the path to motherhood. She's expressed the desire to have kids sometime soon, and may opt to adopt: "I think there are a lot of children out there who need families, so I wouldn't be opposed to adopting some kids, bringing them in, giving them some love." ... Julia Roberts, meanwhile, may be opting out of the spotlight altogether. After the birth of her twins, Phinnaeus and Hazel, in November, Roberts has only appeared on the (small) screen for a Dave Matthews video, and may be leaving the limelight altogether after her turn on Broadway's "Three Days Of Rain" next year comes to an end ... Matt LeBlanc has been asking himself a lot of tough questions lately. With the second, make-or-break season of his show "Joey" set to air this fall, he's been under immense pressure, but right now, possibly no question is more pressing to the ex-Friend than this one: "As a family man, I've asked myself, 'How could I have been so stupid and naive to get myself into such a situation with a stripper?'" That's right, Canadian strippers have struck again. During a motorbike trip through Canada with friends, LeBlanc confesses to the National Enquirer of all places that he nearly had a fling with a "wild stripper." No word yet from his wife, Melissa ... Is it too early to be shopping for Christmas stocking-stuffers? Ex-president Bill Clinton is going to be releasing a CD sometime in September. "The Bill Clinton Collection: Selections From the Clinton Music Room" will feature Clinton's personal faves, including songs like "My One and Only Love" by John Coltrane and "My Funny Valentine" by Miles Davis. The Clinton Presidential Foundation says the disc is just the first in a series Victoria Beckham, despite having published an autobiography, claims she's never cracked open a book. "I haven't read a book in my life," she said in an interview with the Spanish magazine Chic. "I haven't got enough time. I prefer to listen to music, although I do love fashion magazines."
Gangsta rapper 50 cent on his concern over fellow rapper Nelly's seemingly enormous diamond budget: "I've never seen a chain with ice that big and that clean. Not to say Nelly doesn't have the dough to do it, but I would hope the people around him are smart enough to tell him not to. If you gon' spend $5m on diamonds, you's a damn fool." (Softpedia)
Pierce Brosnan on his relief at no longer having to play suave spy James Bond in the film franchise: "I had all these stupid one-liners and loathed them. I felt like such a phony. It never felt real to me and I never felt I had complete ownership of the role." (IrelandOnline)
Before the show dies on Sunday, "Six Feet Under 2001-2005" (HBO, 8 p.m. EDT) will take a look back at what happened during the death-obsessed life of the series. Also, Showtime airs the next hit of "Weeds" at 10 p.m. EDT.
-- Scott Lamb