Oscar flash will be a tad more subdued than usual, due to the possibility of war…Richard Gere’s next gig…The Met’s big dance-a-thon.

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Running neck and neck with Renée in the fashion sweepstakes and the contest for Best Actress is Nicole Kidman who has let go of the Los Angeles mansion she shared with Tom Cruise. Nicole loves gray skies and rain and therefore London town. So, she’s said to be shopping for a house there. And it’s not just the weather she’s fond of, but the people and their humor, so much so that she wants to make fun of herself in a comedy on the West End.

Nicole has a lot of close girlfriends ready to catch her if she falls, the same ones who helped her get over her marriage breakup with Tom, the ones who are constant. "Men," she says, "they come and go. But girls, they stay." For Oscar night, she’s leaning toward black and she’s been on the phone to Karl Lagerfeld, for one. Karl designed the beautiful pink pleated Chanel she wore to great acclaim at last year’s Oscars.

Richard Gere is tapping into his "Chicago" success as a hoofer to land the role opposite Jennifer Lopez in a remake of the Japanese ballroom-dancing film, "Shall We Dance?" — to be produced by Miramax and directed by Peter Chelsom. Richard would play a bored middle-aged accountant who lights up his life by taking dance lessons from a hot instructor, played by, well, you guess. Meanwhile, Renée Zellweger — yes, she’s everywhere — wants to hit Broadway. She’s thrilled that the strike has ended and is supposed to be looking for a show to call her very own.

Every year, the Metropolitan Opera gives a big glittering dinner dance right on the Met’s huge stage. The guests, many of them philanthropic corporate giants and their ladies, dine sumptuously and dance the best way they can, right in the middle of that enormous expanse amidst scenery taken from one of the company’s famous productions. This night is the Met’s biggest fundraiser. It’s called "On Stage at the Met." And this particular party the other night raised almost $1.5 million. That’s an awful lot of arias.

In a burst of corporate celebration, the guest of honor was William B. Harrison Jr., the chairman and ceo of J.P. Morgan Chase, and the dinner chairmen who saluted him were Robert Effner, chairman, president and ceo of Wyeth; Maurice R. Greenberg, chairman and ceo of American International Group, Inc., and David J. O’Reilly, chairman and ceo of Chevron Texaco Corp. — all generous donors, you may be sure.
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