Morning Briefing: The Becks-Cruise connection: Before setting his sights on Katie Holmes, it seems Tom Cruise had a bit of a crush on British uber-couple Victoria and David Beckham. "The strange thing is it was Tom who suggested we meet. We were devoted fans of his," says former Posh Spice Victoria. "When we met him for the first time, I was pregnant and he came for dinner." She also gushes about Cruise's brilliant conversational skills, saying: "He's an incredible person and he said a lot of things that really impressed us, not because it's Tom Cruise but because he's terribly intelligent." (Note: this is the same interview where she admits she's never read a book.) The flattery goes both ways: Cruise has used the "I'm going to make you a star" line on Victoria in the past, and recently told soccer-star David, "You are my hero." As leading man/producer, Cruise now wants to get Becks a cameo in "Mission Impossible 3." There may be a hint of jealousy behind Cruise's attentions, though. Someone close to the couple told the Sun: "Tom told them he played [football] for his college team and dreamed of making it as a professional. But unfortunately he injured his knee and wasn't able to play any more." (The Daily Record, FemaleFirst, A Socialite's Life)
Must've slipped his mind: Just when you thought the long national nightmare of Michael Jackson sex abuse trials was over, there's this. A judge in Louisiana fined Jackson $10,000 for failing to appear in court in a new suit brought by a 39-year-old man who says he was abused by the pop star in a limousine as a child and repressed the memories until 2003. Jackson or a representative were supposed to appear on July 21 for the civil trial, but the summons must have been "lost in the confusion" of the previous case, says Jackson's lawyer Charles Gay. A court date for the new case is to be set on Sept. 7. (BBC)
Judge Judy offers good hourly rates, too: In a legal move that can only be pulled off in California, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt are going to be using a rent-a-judge to preside over their divorce proceedings. Judge Jill Robbens will oversee the negotiations in the privacy of a lawyer's office rather than in open court in order to keep the details out of the public eye. Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie has been growing more vocal about her attachment to Aniston's ex. Star magazine reports that Jolie was asked about her relationship with Pitt during a shopping spree at Saks Fifth Avenue, and responded by cooing at her recently adopted baby, "Do you miss Brad? Mommy misses Brad." When put a direct question about the possibility of getting married, her answer was, "We're working on it." (Ananova, The Bosh)
A walk in the park: Rumors, talk and hopeful speculation are flying that Jude Law and Sienna Miller are patching things up after the couple was spotted taking a walk on London's Hampstead Heath. It's the first time the couple has appeared together in public since Jude's affair with the family nanny became news (and since nude photos of Jude made the rounds of the Internet on Wednesday). The two are also reportedly going to the wedding of Sienna's sister together late next month. (The Sun, MaleFirst)
Also: The woman at the heart of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's sex scandal is now denying there was any sex at all. Gigi Goyette, who was reportedly paid $20,000 by a tabloid paper not to talk about their affair, was on "Inside Edition" Tuesday night and said, "Not only am I not his mistress, I didn't come forward. Nobody has ever come to me to get my exclusive story." Martha Stewart's new show, "Martha," is set to feature a mix of homemaking how-to and celebrity chitchat, and among her first guests will be the newly rechristened Sean "Diddy" Combs. Stewart approached him soon after she got out of prison about wanting him to appear on the show. "When she got her freedom, she contacted me and told me that they had a nickname for her -- M. Diddy," says Diddy. "And it was comforting to her and she thought it was funny." The new "Martha" starts in September. "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria was bumped on the noggin by a falling pole during a shoot for the series on Wednesday. She's fine and is expected to get right back to work, but has been in hot water with the show's producers lately for talking about other long, slender objects. The family of the Notorious B.I.G. isn't going to get financial compensation for the rapper's death anytime soon. The Los Angeles city council rejected the family's proposed out-of-court settlement in a wrongful death suit that ties two LAPD cops to B.I.G.'s 1997 shooting. "No one wanted to throw away $18 million," says Councilman Dennis Zine. "This case will have to go through the courts."
Money Quote: Sylvester Stallone on rumors that publishers American Media are about to pull the plug on his magazine, Sly, a lifestyle magazine for men over 40 that debuted in March: "I am not another Rosie O'Donnell. I am serious about my magazine." (Page Six)
Turn On: Two rare series debuts in the dry summer season: "Celebrity Poker Showdown" gets started tonight at 8 p.m. on Bravo. Later, Howie Mandel, the man behind the hidden cameras of "The Tonight Show," gets his own series -- "Hidden Howie: The Private Life of a Public Nuisance" at 11 p.m. EDT, also on Bravo.
-- Scott Lamb