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An early review of ''Eyes Wide Shut'' tells secrets

Plus, Robert Downey Jr. is back in custody for drug use, and the latest Backstreet Boys rumor is untrue

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SNEAK PEEK The first review of ”Eyes Wide Shut” is in, and it’s positively a love letter. London Evening Standard critic Alexander Walker called it ”an astonishing work” that reveals ”a humanity that this director’s detractors have insisted he did not possess.” Of course, it wasn’t the most objective look in the world: Walker is a longtime friend of Kubrick’s who wrote a biography of him, and the late director’s wife let Walker see it at her London-area home, even before many at the film’s studio have gotten a peek. As glowing as the praise is, Kubrick’s family is annoyed that he reviewed it so early. The critique is full of details of the top-secret film, so if you want the surprise spoiled, you can read it on the Standard’s website.

LEGAL TROUBLE If it’s Wednesday, it must mean that Robert Downey Jr. is in trouble for drug addiction again. The actor was sent back to jail after admitting to a California judge that he hadn’t been checking in for his court-ordered drug testing since December, and was still using. ”I’m coming here with my drug counselor to tell you I find (staying clean) very difficult,” he told the judge, according to Reuters. He will have to undergo a psychiatric examination, and he was immediately put into custody for a strict drug treatment, and will stay there at least until his next court appearance on Aug. 5…. ”Boyz in the Hood” director John Singleton has been ordered by an L.A. court to make a short film about domestic abuse as part of his punishment for punching the mother of his child in the face and choking her when she came to pick up their 6-year-old daughter from his house in January. Singleton, 31, pleaded no contest to the charges, according to Reuters, and was also sentenced to three years probation, fined $300, and ordered to take a year of counseling.

RUMOR CONTROL Don’t believe the whispers: Although word was running rampant that Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell would be taking time off of the group’s tour because of health troubles related to his heart surgery last year, the group’s publicist has stepped in to say it’s untrue, according to MTV News. The shipshape Boys will be wrapping up their European tour on Aug. 7, and will be playing Stateside in September.

SENSITIVE EARS A Georgia woman has filed a complaint against the Toys ‘R’ Us chain after her 11-year-old son picked up a talking Austin Powers doll off the shelf that said, ”Do I make you horny, baby, do I?” The son asked her, ”What does horny mean?” and Tamatha Brannon later said her boy was ”in no way ready for any sex conversations.” Her complaint got the Morrow, Ga., store to take the bawdy Powers dolls off its shelves, and undoubtedly had the manager thanking the Lord above that the Brannons didn’t wander down the ”South Park” aisle.

FRIENDS FOREVER? Sean ”Puffy” Combs and Interscope executive Steve Stoute seemed awfully chummy on Tuesday, considering that Stoute is pressing charges that Combs and his cohorts beat the crap out of him. At the nomination ceremony for the 1999 Source Hip-Hop Music Awards, Combs went to the podium and said, ”I’m going to need a little help with this, so I’m going to invite a friend and a fellow mogul to help me with this one,” and waved Stoute up. Rumors have been rampant in the New York papers of a possible settlement between the two, but no official announcement has been made. But things look good, considering Combs didn’t smash Stoute over the head with the podium.

CASTING After Ben Affleck’s ”Reindeer Games” and Michael Douglas’ ”The Score,” Bruce Willis is the third star to announce plans to play a con man trying to go straight who is blackmailed into doing ”one last job.” Willis’ project is called ”Ace in the Hole,” and it will be directed by Josef Rusnak (”The Thirteenth Floor”)…. Glenn Close will star in the TV-movie ”The Ballad of Lucy Whipple” as a mother who drags her child (”Stepmom”’s Jena Malone) from their New England home out to California during the Gold Rush.

LAWSUITS Daniel Stern has filed a countersuit against Columbia TriStar TV, which earlier this month filed suit against him for $25 million, claiming that he bad-mouthed his own pilot, ”Partners,” to CBS president Les Moonves and dissuaded the net from picking up the show. Stern denies making any such call to Moonves and says that the studio is just trying to make him the ”fall guy” for the failed series, according to Variety. He also claims that Columbia TriStar executives had previously made him assurances that they would fix what he saw as the show’s problems, but never did, and that the studio has attempted to ”demonize” him in the press and label him as ”unprofessional”…. Suzen Johnson, the flight attendant whose hotel-room liaison with Frank Gifford was documented in 1997 by the Globe, is suing the owners of the tabloid for $10 million. Johnson claims that her relationship with Gifford was purely nonsexual, and that the paper’s editor had originally told her the Globe just wanted to do a piece on their, uh, friendship, and did not tell her it would be bugging their hotel room (in which Johnson and Gifford traveled slightly beyond the limits of buddyhood). A spokesman for the Globe told the Miami Herald that ”I’m sure after I review this complaint we will again prove that she’s a pathological liar.”

HONORED You’ll be able to step on more stars on your next trip to L.A.: The Hollywood Walk of Fame has announced that Jim Carrey, Sting, Jodie Foster, Kevin Spacey, and KISS will be getting their own squares in 2000. If you’re thinking that sounds like an elite crew, consider some of the other names getting sidewalk real estate next year: Don Knotts and Siegfried & Roy.

BIRTHS 702’s LeMisha Grinstead gave birth to a baby boy on June 18. She’s been taking time off from the group to recuperate, and will rejoin 702 (currently on tour with Brandy) in August. Right now her little sister, Orish, is filling in for her onstage.

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