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Liz Hurley breaks the actors' strike

Plus, Tom Cruise and Cameron Crowe, Liam Neeson, Roman Polanski, Madonna, Pamela Anderson, and more

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Elizabeth Hurley
Hurley: All Action/Chris Neal

STRIKE BREAKER Liz Hurley became the first high-profile celeb to break the 12-week actors’ strike by performing in a nonunion Estee Lauder commercial. However, the ”Austin Powers” babe did apologize, via her film agent, and said that she did not know that she was working against the Screen Actors Guild wishes. ”She was completely unaware of the situation because she doesn’t live in this country and she is extremely apologetic about it,” said her rep at United Talent Agency. ”Had she known it was struck work, she never would have done it. She is extremely supportive of her union.” By working for the cosmetics giant, Hurley faces possible suspension or expulsion from the union. Supporters have asked Hurley to persuade Estee Lauder to withdraw the spot, but her agent says she is unlikely to do that because of her contract with the company.

REEL DEALS The team that brought us ”Jerry Maguire” may be back again. Variety reports that Tom Cruise and Cameron Crowe are in advance talks to work together on an as yet untitled romance that Crowe will write and direct. Very little information has leaked about the project, but it will be produced by the ”M: I-2” star and Paula Wagner via their Paramount-based company. Production is tentatively scheduled to begin next year. After working with Crowe, Cruise will go straight to Stephen Spielberg’s ”Minority Report,” which is scheduled to begin shooting in the spring.

AILING New York’s Daily News reports that Liam Neeson is preparing to go under the knife to repair injuries he acquired in a previously reported motorcycle accident last week. The paper quotes a friend of Neeson’s as saying the ”Phantom Menace” star is ”lucky to be alive. His injuries were a lot more serious than people thought. There was significant internal bleeding and other complications.” The actor’s doctor reportedly moved him from Lenox Hill Hospital to the Hospital for Special Surgery. His publicist has yet to comment on the report.

LEGALESE Artisan Entertainment is suing Roman Polanski, claiming the director pocketed more than $1 mil owed the studio from his recent thriller ”The Ninth Gate.” The suit alleges that Polanski made off with tax refunds for which the production was eligible because it was filmed in France. The director’s agent has yet to comment.

UNIONS ”Suddenly Susan”’s Brooke Shields, 35, and her beau Chris Henchy, 37, are getting hitched. ”He took her away for the weekend and asked her on Saturday night. I don’t know any of the details, but she said ‘yes,”’ reports Shields’ publicist. It will be the second trip to the altar for the former teen star, who was previously married to Andre Agassi.

POLITICS If DiCaprio can interview the Prez, why shouldn’t the Goo Goo Dolls’ Johnny Rzeznik become a Capitol Hill correspondent of sorts? The frontman has been in D.C. shadowing and interviewing Sen. Ted Kennedy for an MTV special entitled ”Choose or Lose” that looks at the crisis of voter apathy. If only those kids didn’t watch so much TV…

PIRACY As two U.S. Senators are being deluged with 70,000-plus e-mails from supporters of Napster and MP3.com, Hollywood’s top brass is engaged in another digital battle against an alleged DVD hacker. Hackers and industry execs were out in force to listen to testimony in the Motion Picture Association of America’s case against 2600.com website publisher Eric Corley, who’s accused of spreading info about how to crack encryption code data on DVDs. The high profile case is an attempt by major studios to halt Internet piracy of films before it grows to Napster-like proportions. Outside the courtroom anti-MPAA demonstrators chanted and waved banners saying, ”Your Rights Are on Trial.”

BLONDS Britain’s ever alert gossip rag the Sun reports that Madonna says she has a fetish for its raunchy Page Three section. Apparently, after dropping her daughter Lourdes off at nursery school, the Material Mom likes to relax with a cup of coffee and a peak at the ”naked girls” in the famous English tab…. A slew of eager students rescued Pamela Anderson‘s ATM card after she left it in a machine while shopping at a Malibu mall last weekend. ”Oh, I can’t believe I did that, I’m so stupid,” the bombshell confessed to the kids when they happily returned her card. A moment of real self-awareness?

BIG WIGS America Online’s chief exec Steve Case told a gathering of the world’s top Internet brass that (EW.com parent) Time Warner’s now infamous decision to black out ABC during its dispute with Disney was a very bad move, according to the Hollywood Reporter. ”It was a dumb thing to do,” he said. ”It was particularly dumb because it was self-inflicted.” Maybe TW should hire Pamela Anderson.