PEOPLE

Carrey may be a Grinch after losing Zellweger

Jim Carrey’s success-love balance is off kilter again. While his latest movie “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” reaches the $195 million point in box office receipts and guarantees him royalties for life, Carrey is minus one girlfriend. As of a few weeks ago, Carrey and Renee Zellweger “are no longer in a relationship,” confirmed the actress’s publicist, Leslie Sloane-Zelnik.

The two had met while co-starring in the Farrelly brothers comedy “Me, Myself and Irene.” Last summer, Carrey bought her a diamond ring, which she wore on her left hand, then told reporters it was a friendship ring. By all accounts, the 31-year-old actress tarried in the beginning of the relationship because actors often fall in love with their leading ladies as Carrey did with his “Dumb & Dumber” co-star Lauren Holly, whom he married, then divorced. As for Carrey’s publicist, he says the actor is not available for comment because he is out of town.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE OF HIGH BIDDERS: With her “Invitation to the White House” barely warming the book shelves, Hillary Rodham Clinton is already the subject of a bidding war for a new book, with the stakes as high as $7 million. The wads of cash, though, aren’t for another coffee-table book, but a memoir that would include her take on her husband’s affair and the related impeachment. There’s a chance her contract will exceed the $7.1 million given to General Electric chairman Jack Welch last summer, and definitely beats President Ronald Reagan’s two-for-one deal, when he put out two books for more than $8 million.

While that auction tidbit is from an anonymous source working for a bidding publishing company, another source says the first lady wants the advance for a Washington, D.C., house. The New York Times reported Wednesday that she wants the money before the year’s end, when she and President Bill Clinton need to clear the White House. They already have a large mortgage on the $1.7 million Westchester County house.

Both Washington lawyer Robert Barnett, who’s conducting the auction, and Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson declined comment. However, a nonpartisan watchdog organization, Congressional Accountability Project, who read the Times report, wants the senator-elect to naysay any advance and accept copyright royalties only. Clinton can blame that one on Newt Gingrich, whose initial acceptance of a $4.5 million book advance while he was house speaker led Congress to amend its rules barring such loaners.

THE BIG PICTURE: While shows like John Goodman’s “Normal, Ohio” are getting the smooch of near-death (it’s on hiatus and Fox isn’t ordering any more episodes), its fellow network sitcom “Malcolm in the Middle” will go big screen less than a year after its television debut.

New Regency Films announced Tuesday its plans to produce a feature film on a smart young boy who is perpetually embarrassed by his rowdy family. “I don’t think fans of the TV show will be disappointed,” said the film’s executive producer, Linwood Boomer. Actors Frankie Muniz, Jane Kaczmarek and Bryan Cranston, who play Malcolm, mom and dad, respectively, haven’t signed on yet; but, New Regency spokesman Michael Brown said, “Obviously, we’re hoping they will.” Obviously.

GOING FROM BAROQUE: After 14 years as the driving management force behind San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, executive director George Gelles is jumping ship to the prestigious Carmel Bach Festival.

Festival president Lamont Wiltsee announced Wednesday that Gelles will take over as executive vice president and managing director effective April 1. Under Gelles’ stewardship, the 20-year-old Philharmonia Baroque, conducted by Nicholas McGegan, has expanded its annual budget tenfold to $3 million, made 24 recordings on three major labels and increased its concert series to seven programs, presented in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Walnut Creek and Irvine.

The internationally renowned Carmel Bach Festival, entering its 64th season, produces a three-week run of concerts and programs in historic venues around Carmel every summer.

AWARD SEASON: Steven Soderbergh received an early Christmas gift in the form of a best picture award from the New York Film Critics Circle. His drug thriller “Traffic” also merited best director and best supporting actor (Benicio Del Toro, who plays the Mexican cop involved in drug wars). Marcia Gay Harden was named best supporting actress as Jackson Pollock’s wife in “Pollock,” which won’t get to the Bay Area until January. Best actor awards went to Tom Hanks for “Cast Away,” opening here Dec. 22, and Laura Linney for “You Can Count on Me.”

Other winners include Kenneth Lonergan, best screenplay, “You Can Count on Me;” Peter Pau, best cinematography, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon;” “Yi Yi (A One and a Two),” best foreign film (coming here January); “George Washington,” best first film; “The Life & Times of Hank Greenberg,” best nonfiction film; “Chicken Run,” best animated film.

Today’s People Column was compiled by Vera H-C Chan and Sue Gilmore from staff and wire reports. Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8362, or e-mail spin@cctimes.com.

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