Reese, Ryan on the Rocks: Let's Roll the Credits

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, October 31, 2006

You can never really know what's going on inside someone else's relationship, you know? So while the separation of Hollywood golden couple Reese Witherspoon , 30, and Ryan Phillippe , 32, confirmed by their publicists yesterday, will spawn all kinds of rumor and speculation to keep the glossy-mag industry going for months, we'll stick to the facts:

1997: They meet at her 21st birthday, two pretty young things of near-proximate career standing. Her biggest flick, "Fear," had grossed only $20 million. Months later, he hits it big with "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (box office: $72 million), is signed to lead role in star-studded "54."

1998: "54" tanks ($16 million).

1999: They co-star in "Cruel Intentions," Phillippe sharing top billing with Sarah Michelle Gellar , Witherspoon billed third. (gross: $38 million). They wed in June, welcome daughter Ava in September.

2001: Phillippe is paid $2.5 million to star in "Antitrust" (gross: $11 million). Witherspoon's "Legally Blonde" opens at No. 1 in July, grosses $96 million, earns her a $15 million paycheck for the sequel.

2002: Phillippe gets good notices for quirky supporting roles in "Gosford Park" ($41 million) and "Igby Goes Down" ($4 million). Witherspoon stars in "Sweet Home Alabama" ($127 million).

2003: "Legally Blonde 2" ($90 million). Couple welcomes son Deacon in October.

2005: Phillippe gets good notices for quirky supporting role (salary: $350,000) in "Crash" ($54 million); Witherspoon stars in "Walk the Line" ($119 million), wins Best Actress Oscar. But, hey -- "Crash" wins Best Pic!

2006: Phillippe gets good notices for role in "Flags of Our Fathers"; movie grosses a disappointing $19 million in its first two weeks.

Yesterday: Publicists for the couple issue a joint statement -- "They remain committed to their family and we ask that you please respect their privacy and the safety of their children at this time."

The Strategist Next Door

A profile in the December Vanity Fair portrays Karl Rove as a polarizing yet brilliant strategist facing his biggest challenge ever in next week's midterm elections -- but you knew that . Here's the dirt author Todd Purdum got because he and Rove are neighbors in the Palisades:

· When Purdum went on vacation, Rove walked his newspapers up 34 steps to the front porch every day; he later berated Purdum for not stopping delivery.

· Rove found out that another neighbor's kid named his soap-box derby car after him ("K-ROVE-R") -- though it was hidden under a heavy plastic tarp!

· During a party, Rove covertly took a copy of "Bush's Brain" from Purdum's bookshelf, scribbled "Don't believe a single word in this piece of trash" inside it, then replaced it.

· Rove served Purdum French-press coffee ("the sort of thing Rove might have mocked John Kerry for"), as well as venison sausage from a deer bagged by his teenage son.

Demand a Recount!

Laura Bush is celebrating -- okay, maybe not celebrating -- her 60th birthday on Saturday. "Don't mention it," the first lady laughingly told C-SPAN's Steve Scully . No big party planned: FLOTUS will spend the day with the president and a few of her best friends at their Crawford ranch, and the first couple will celebrate their 29th wedding anniversary the next day. The other birthday girl at the White House -- executive pooch Miss Beazley -- was a present from the president two years ago; no word on what he has planned for his wife's big 6-0.

Steve Wynn's Next Canvas: The Kennedy Center

One month ago, casino mogul Steve Wynn accidentally put his elbow through a Picasso masterpiece ("La Reve"), days before he was to close a deal to sell it for $138 million.

But he's getting another chance to prove himself as a supporter of the arts! President Bush yesterday appointed Wynn to the Kennedy Center's board of trustees (along with Norm Mineta , AOL co-founder Jim Kimsey , Gloria Estefan 's husband, Emilio , and two others). Congratulations, Steve! We know you'll be more careful this time. We're just gonna cordon off the JFK bust, though, if you don't mind . . .

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