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''Legally Blonde'' is No. 1 at the box office

Plus, Britney Spears drinks something stronger than Pepsi, Jennifer Lopez denies she’s a racist, and more

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Alanna Ubach, Jessica Cauffiel, ...
Legally Blonde: Tracy Bennett

BOX OFFICE Movie stars who worry that computer-generated actors will replace them can rest easy for a while. The digital actors of ”Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” couldn’t beat the old school, analog actors Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando in ”The Score.” In fact, they couldn’t even beat the digital pets of ”Cats & Dogs.”

Still, ”Legally Blonde” had more fun than all of them. Reese Witherspoon‘s ”Clueless”-meets-”The Paper Chase” comedy opened at No. 1 this weekend, with an estimated $20.4 million. ”The Score” heisted $19 million to open at No. 2. Last week’s winner, ”Cats & Dogs,” slipped to No. 3, with $12 million, but the $58.9 million it’s fetched so far suggests it will ultimately pass $100 million. The video game-based ”Final Fantasy” opened at No. 4 with $11.5 million for the weekend, earning a total of $19.1 million since it opened Wednesday. Falling three slots to No. 5 was ”Scary Movie 2” ($9.5 million), which, like ”Kiss of the Dragon” (No. 8) and ”A.I.” (No. 9), dropped to less than half of last weekend’s take.

Rounding out the top 10 were ”The Fast and the Furious (No. 6), ”Dr. Dolittle 2” (No. 7), and ”Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (No. 10). Outside the top 10, two blockbusters hit milestones, with ”The Mummy Returns” passing $200 million and ”Shrek” surpassing ”Toy Story 2” to become the second most successful animated feature of all time, behind only ”The Lion King.” Watch for another CGI-versus-humans battle this weekend, as the digital dinosaurs of ”Jurassic Park III” take on Julia Roberts in ”America’s Sweethearts.”

NOT THAT INNOCENT Britney Spears continued to milk her good girl/bad girl routine for the nation’s TV critics at the television industry’s annual promo-fest in Pasadena on Friday. Discussing her November HBO concert, which will be broadcast live from Las Vegas, Spears said, ”I really want this to be shocking and edgier.” Her planned duet with Cher on the old Sonny and Cher hit ”The Beat Goes On” doesn’t exactly sound shocking and edgy, but Spears insisted, ”I want to do things that people have never seen before. I don’t want to be considered a role model.” Along those lines, she acknowledged that she has an occasional social drink, even though the 19-year-old is a couple years shy of the legal age. ”I like to celebrate when something comes up, but I do everything with balance. One drink here or one drink there is fine. I’m growing up. I’m not a little girl anymore. But I never overdo anything. I can’t afford to do that.”

By the way, Spears has an unlikely fan in veteran hard rocker Ted Nugent. ”I happen to really get a kick out of Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears,” the 52-year-old Motor City Madman tells the Calgary Sun. ”I think what they do as young ladies, there’s a level of soul in their voices that defies their years. I think they have incredible talents even though it’s extremely pop at times and borderline on pap, but they’re putting their heart and soul into it.” Of course, the ”Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” singer admits, ”I like looking at their bodies anyhow — that’s what gets me in the door — but when you really listen to their music … it’s very soulful.”

J. LOW Jennifer Lopez insists she’s not racist, even though she sings the n-word in a remix of her new song ”I’m Real” made by rapper Ja Rule. ”For anyone to think or suggest that I’m racist is really absurd and hateful to me,” she said Friday on NBC’s ”Today,” where she performed the original version of the song. ”The use of the word in the song — it was actually written by Ja Rule — it was not meant to be hurtful to anybody.” She also denied rumors that she’s pregnant, though as for rumors that she and her boyfriend, dancer Cris Judd, are engaged, she said, ”I guess you’ll have to wait and see.” Thanks for clearing all that up for us, J. Lo.

DOLLED UP This Christmas, Santa will be bringing many kids Destiny’s Child dolls, complete with tiny headset microphones, cell phones, and Palm Pilots. No word on whether, with all that high-tech communications gear, they’ll be able to say their names, or on whether the Michelle Williams figure will have the fuzzy upper lip that the real-life Williams sported until recently. ”You ought to see what I had,” she said of her moustache in Esquire. ”It was just a part of what I was — my ‘tache was my boyfriend. Some guys like a girl with a moustache. Not a full-grown beard but some men thought it was sexy if a girl had a little fuzz up there.”

LAB PARTNERS Mary Tyler Moore and Christopher Reeve wrote an op-ed essay for yesterday’s Los Angeles Times urging President George W. Bush to approve federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. Wrote Moore and Reeve, ”If he decides against federal support, his legacy will be a missed opportunity to make a difference by bringing hope and better lives to 100 million Americans facing incurable diseases and life-threatening medical conditions, just like the two of us.”

Moore, who has lived with juvenile diabetes for more than 30 years, is international chairwoman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, while Reeve has been an advocate for spinal-injury research since he was paralyzed six years ago. Both actors have testified before Congress on the contentious issue, which pits medical researchers against abortion opponents who disapprove of the harvesting of cells from surplus embryos discarded by fertility clinics.

THE TRUTH Rapper Beanie Sigel was arrested on Friday on Sigel Street, the Philadelphia street from which he took his name, for allegedly assaulting a driver. Police said Sigel and his friends were standing on the street and wouldn’t let Frank Ferrer pass. Ferrer said the group jumped him when he got out of his pickup, and that Sigel kicked and punched him. Ferrer was treated for a cracked rib, an eye injury, and a concussion. It’s the second such accusation in recent months for the Jay-Z protégé. In February, a woman accused him of pouring a drink on her and threatening her with a gun, but she failed to appear in court, and the charges were dropped.

SIN CITY Ultimate bachelor Charlie Sheen is selling what he calls the ”ultimate bachelor pad,” the 2.5-acre Malibu property that includes his 6,000-square-foot home. Sheen recently bought another Los Angeles home, so he’s put on the market his old place, which features a grotto, a spa, a poker room, billiards room, a cigar room, an office, a gym, a guest house, and a batting cage. He’s asking $4.5 million for the home, which comes furnished. Given Sheen’s bachelor lifestyle, prospective buyers should be happy enough that the place is still standing.

KID ROCKER Who says 54-year-old David Bowie can’t still draw a young audience? Inspired by his daughter Alexandria, born to him and supermodel wife Iman last August, Bowie is programming an Internet radio station for children called Kick out the Jammies. The playlist mixes kid favorites like ”Itsy Bitsy Spider” with classical music, Broadway tunes, novelty songs (from sources like ”The Simpsons”), and rock acts like the Rolling Stones. What, no ”Young Americans”?

CASTING CALL Kevin Spacey is in talks to star in ”The Life of David Gale.” He’d play an anti-capital-punishment academic who finds himself on death row when he’s framed for murder. Alan Parker, who knows from grim prison movies (”Midnight Express”), will direct.

SAY UNCLE Early king of television Milton Berle turned 93 on Thursday. Perhaps the comic owes his longevity to the fact that he doesn’t drink alcohol. ”I had a taste of it once when I was in a nightclub, and I spit it out,” he tells TV Guide. He also doesn’t smoke cigarettes, though he smokes cigars all the time. Of today’s comedians, he complains, ”They think it’s easy to go out and do a stand-up. They grab a mike and say, ‘How are you doing out there?’ They have no material.” Uncle Miltie, of course, always had fine material — chiffon, taffeta, lace…