And Next, a Beautiful Baby Contrary to prior reports, Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Connelly is indeed pregnant. New York magazine writer Marc Malkin is reporting that the actress and star of the upcoming "The Hulk," is expecting a child with Paul Bettany, 31, her "A Beautiful Mind" co-star and husband of two months. Rumors began circulating after Connelly's appearance at the Golden Globe Awards, but they were denied by reps for the actress. Connelly, 32, has a son, 5-year-old Kai, with photographer David Dugan.

The Unwelcome Gest

VH1 has filed a $1.5 million countersuit to Liza Minnelli and husband David Gest's $23 million suit over the canceling of a reality series that was to center around the couple's private New York residence.

And from the latest filing, it would appear that Gest is the real diva in this marriage.

The countersuit, filed on Thursday and posted on "The Smoking Gun" Web site, describes Gest's behavior as "erratic and deceitful conduct that went so far beyond the acceptable bounds of show business eccentricity." This behavior included:

* Outrageous demands over creative control and his refusal to appear on camera when, "in his opinion, he was not looking his best";

* Expenses that included a wardrobe more than 30 times that of Minnelli's and the transportation and lodging of his Los Angeles-based hairdresser;

* Bizarre treatment of the crew, such as ordering a staffer to stick her head in an oven "to make sure it was spotlessly clean."

A Corleone Family Reunion Random House and the Mario Puzo literary estate have chosen fiction writer Mark Winegardner to pen the sequel to the mega-selling 1969 tale "The Godfather." The Tallahassee native and director of Florida State University's creative writing program was chosen through a contest started last fall, whose finalists included Vince Patrick, James Carlos Blake, and at least two authors rejected because of their British nationality. According to Random House editor Jon Karp, "No Brits are going to be writing the next 'Godfather' novel." Winegardner, who is of German and Irish ancestry, hopes to have the sequel ready by the end of next year.

Noted . . .

Harvard University's Black Student Association has removed a page of its guidebook that many felt was offensive to women. The piece, written by executive editor Marques J. Redd about an ex-girlfriend, was titled "Top 10 Signs Harvard Has Driven a Black Woman Crazy." . . . The new Harry Potter novel, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," will break more than just sales records when it's finally released in bookstores this summer. Carrying a suggested price tag of $29.99, it will also become the most expensive children's book in history.

. . . And Quoted

"The Eskimos are feeling the pinch."

-- Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, speaking about global warming at a free concert meant to bring attention to environmental concerns.

-- Compiled by Matt Kane

from staff and wire reports

Newly married Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly are on the stork watch.VH1 airs some dirty laundry about the home habits of David Gest and wife Liza Minnelli.