Clooney, Zellweger officially a couple

Sweet-faced Renee Zellweger and the matrimonially disinclined George Clooney are now officially confirmed as an item. The two apparently had a flirtatious exchange at her 32nd birthday party last May, but Clooney was still hooked up with British model and MTV personality Lisa Snowdon. Clooney, whose relationship with Snowdon ended last June, offered to cook Zellweger dinner a month ago. The twosome hang out at his house three or four times a week, according to his best (and apparently loose-lipped) friend, actor Tommy Hinkley: “Renee has been up at the house with George loads of times recently. They are definitely hanging out a lot and seeing each other. I like Renee loads she is such a fun, charming person.” Hinkley also reminded Heat magazine that Clooney is still against the institution of marriage. “I hope he settles down with her because I know how wonderful it is to be in love. But that is George’s choice.” Clooney has remained faithful, however, to his potbellied pig, Max, who sleeps in the bedroom. THE CRUEL FUNNY-BONE OF IRONY: Kim Basinger must have had to sell her soul to win that Oscar for “L.A. Confidential” which co-starred Oscarless fellow actors such as Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce and now proof has come that the devil shall reap his due. She has signed up for another film with director Curtis Hanson but she has to play Eminem’s mother in his semi-autobiographical movie. Hmmm, so not only does she play his much-despised maternal figure, she has the same first name as his much-despised wife.

JUDGE JUDGING AMY: Richard T. Jones has gone to court to get out of court. Jones, who plays court services officer Bruce Van Exel on the CBS drama “Judging Amy,” filed suit Monday against the series’ producer, 20th Century Fox Television. The suit states that since Fox has failed to develop his character as agreed, and he still has to work long days and through lunch, he wants to be released from his contract. Also, the suit alleges that the studio didn’t accommodate movie roles that came to Jones while the series was being filmed. Jones was assured by Fox he could be written out of the show if he became unhappy, said his attorney, Martin D. Singer. Here’s a twist: No damages are being sought, just the cost of the filing and attorney fees. Twentieth Century Fox Television had not seen a copy of the suit and had no comment, a spokesman said.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME: U.S. Rep. Gary Condit’s (D-Modesto) Washington condominium is for sale. The Central Valley Democrat and his wife, Carolyn, are asking $130,000 for the one-bedroom, one-and-a-half bathroom top-floor condominium in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. The unit may be seen by appointment only, according to a computerized real estate listing. Telephone calls to aides in Washington and California were not returned Tuesday.

THE LAW MUST GO ON: Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has undergone a remarkable political transformation with his response to the tragedy that has beset his city. There is no break from the law, however, and a Manhattan appeals court has upheld a ruling that bars his girlfriend Judith Nathan from visiting Gracie Mansion while his children live there.

In the 3-2 decision made public Tuesday, the State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division said a lower court judge was right to bar Judith Nathan from the mayoral residence to avoid an accidental meeting between her and Giuliani’s two children. The court agreed such a meeting “would be harmful to the children’s emotional well-being.” Giuliani and TV personality Donna Hanover are divorcing. The children, Andrew, 15, and Caroline, 11, and Hanover will leave at the end of the year when Giuliani’s term ends. Hanover’s lawyer, Helene Brezinsky, declined to comment on the decision. Giuliani’s lawyer, Raoul Felder, did not return phone calls.

Today’s People Column was compiled by Vera H-C Chan from staff and wire reports. Comments? 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

Divorce pursued: By Bob and Carol Costas. The NBC sportscaster and his wife of 18 years separated in August. Although Costas is from New York, the couple settled in St. Louis to rear their children, Keith, 15, and Taylor, 12. “The parting is amicable,” said business manager Pam Davis. “They are devoted to their children, and Bob will continue to live in St. Louis to remain close to them.”

Sentence imposed: By Shannen Doherty. A Ventura County judge imposed the minimum sentence five days in a work-release program as part of her sentencing for a December drunken driving arrest. The 30-year-old actress has given lectures to teens about the dangers of driving under the influence. Deputy district attorney Ian Morse said Doherty will probably serve her five days of work-release picking up freeway trash.

Birthdays: Comedian Jan Murray (84), actor Charlton Heston (77), country singer Leroy Van Dyke (72), actress Felicia Farr (69), actor Eddie Applegate (66), author Jackie Collins (60), author Anne Rice (60), actress Lori Saunders (60), actor Clifton Davis (56), actress Susan Sarandon (55), actor Armand Assante (52), actor Alan Rosenberg (51), producer Russell Simmons (44), musician Chris Lowe of The Pet Shop Boys (42), country musician Gregg “Hobie” Hubbard of Sawyer Brown (41), actor David W. Harper (40), singer Jon Secada (40), actor Liev Schreiber (34), country singer-musician Heidi Newfield of Trick Pony (31), rock musician Andy Parle of Space (31), actress Alicia Silverstone (25), actor Phillip Glasser (23), actress Rachael Leigh Cook (22), actor Jimmy Workman (21), actor Michael Charles Roman (14).