ROLL CALL: Nicole’s Birthday Gift & Mandy’s Ghostly Visitor

Your Daily Dispatch of Celebrity Shenanigans by Tommy Vergason

June 25, 2007

MANDY’S STRANGE COMPANY?: Mandy Moore had a strange encounter while recording her latest album, reports THE NY DAILY NEWS’ BEN WIDDICOMBE. At a listening party at Club Stereo for her new album, “Wild Hope,” Moore reportedly told Widdicombe: “The place we recorded was definitely haunted. The ghost was nice. It turned my TV on for me - no particular programs. It was nice. I felt like I wasn’t by myself; they were my friends. I had company.” It was her BlackBerry, though — not the supernatural — that Mandy referred to when she reportedly forgot the lyrics to her song “Candy” during a performance at the event, THE NY POST’s PAGE SIX reports. Regarding the album’s lyrics, which reportedly take aim at an ex-boyfriend on some songs, Moore refused to divulge to PAGE SIX whether she was targeting anyone specifically when she wrote the words. “I’d never name names,” she is quoted as saying. “But I’d say stay away from anyone who is too insecure or self-involved.”

NICOLE’S HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Nicole Kidman received a very special gift for her 40th birthday last week: a visit from her husband, Keith Urban. PEOPLE reports that Urban, who has been touring the U.S. on his “Love, Pain & the whole crazy World” tour, flew to Australia celebrate with Kidman, who is busy filming Baz Luhrmann’s epic “Australia” on location in the beach town of Bowen. On Wednesday, Kidman’s actual birthday, the couple reportedly watched a surprise fireworks display, set up in Kidman’s honor, from a mountaintop lookout in Bowen. Australia’s DAILY TELEGRAPH reports that Luhrmann, who previously directed Kidman in “Moulin Rouge,” threw a birthday party for her, and even Bowen’s mayor played a part in the festivities. “My wife spent all day baking,” he reportedly told the DAILY TELEGRAPH, “now we’re just waiting for Nicole to arrive.” Urban, 39, is scheduled to resume his U.S. tour next week.

HUGE FAME CAN BE ‘THE PITTS’: “Ocean’s Thirteen” star Don Cheadle spoke with MOVIE.COM’s JEANNE WOLFE, citing one of his own birthday parties as an example of why he prefers having a quieter media profile than some of his “Ocean’s” co-stars. “I had a birthday party at my house, and Brad [Pitt] came to the house, and the next day it was in People magazine. And I was like, ‘That’s a wrap, cuz — you’re not coming to my house anymore,’” he reportedly said. “That’s kind of insane, you know. I still go to the store and buy groceries. I still walk around with my daughters, and go to the park and go to the beach. I would hate to feel like I couldn’t just have that kind of a life.”

BELIEVE IT OR NOT: People who live “lives less ordinary” were celebrated at the opening of the “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium” in NYC’s Times Square on Thursday, and some stars came out to take in the attractions on display. THE NY DAILY NEWS’ RUSH & MOLLOY spoke with Ozzy Osbourne’s daughter, Kelly, who said she wasn’t at all phazed by some of the more graphic items, such as the display of 24 shrunken heads. “I’ve seen too much in my life,” Osbourne reportedly joked. Jenny McCarthy confessed that she was bit taken aback by the display of Thai women who stretch their necks out with rings, but the notoriously frank actress reportedly added, “I guess they would look at us and see breast implants and think that was weird!” McCarthy’s boyfriend, Jim Carrey, is rumored to be in talks to play Ripley in an upcoming movie about the showman’s life. McCarthy reportedly told PEOPLE at the event that things are “going great” between Carrey and her, but that they have no plans to marry. She referred to another Hollywood couple who have endured for years without tying the knot as inspiration for their choice. “There will be no wedding,” she is quoted as saying. “Goldie [Hawn] and Kurt [Russell] have it made, and that’s what we can strive for.”

HEFNER IMMORTALIZED: The world’s most famous ladies’ man, Hugh Hefner, is about to get the big screen treatment, VARIETY reports. Brett Ratner has reportedly been hired to direct “Playboy,” the Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment film about the life of the Playboy magazine founder. Following some failed attempts at making a Hefner movie in the past, producer Brian Grazer and Hefner reportedly approved Ratner’s (and screenwriter John Hoffman’s) take on the movie late last week in a meeting at the Playboy Mansion. “Hef came from a puritanical upbringing and reinvented himself to be the godfather of the sexual revolution,” Ratner reportedly told Daily Variety. “He also used his magazine to advocate civil rights and free speech, and put James Brown on his show ‘Playboy After Dark’ when they didn’t put black performers on national television. He broke all kinds of taboos, especially in sexuality. I want to show it all.” A production schedule for “Playboy,” as well as casting, has yet to be determined.

‘IDOL’ IS COMING TO TOWN!: And, finally, USA TODAY reports that aspiring singers will soon have their chance to show their talents to “American Idol,” as auditions for the show’s next season will kick off in San Diego on July 30. New audition cities Omaha, Charleston, S.C., and Philadelphia join Dallas, Atlanta and Miami on the audition tour, which last year attracted a reported 100,000 hopefuls. “Idol” producers will reportedly narrow each city’s field to 300 to 400 of the best and worst singers. Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe and co-executive producer Ken Warwick will then cull to about 120 per city to sing to judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. Producers want to find a way to make sure more good singers make it through the initial auditions and the Hollywood round and into the final 24. “Too many slipped through the net,” Lythgoe reportedly told USA TODAY, but added that no “big changes” are planned.

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