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The fur's flying ...
Charlize Theron is making the fur fly in Hollywood by joining a campaign against the use of animal pelts in fashion, reports Agence France-Presse.

The 29-year-old star, who picked up the best actress Oscar earlier this year for her role as Florida serial killer Aileen Wuornos in "Monster," will soon star in a billboard advertisement slamming the animal cruelty caused by the fur industry.

"If You Wouldn't Wear Your Dog, Please Don't Wear Any Fur," reads the billboard that is plastered over a huge photograph of the blond beauty hugging her pet pooch, Tucker.

"Fur isn't necessary. It doesn't make sense to me to let animals suffer for fashion," Theron said, crediting her love for animals to her upbringing on a South African farm. "The only difference between your 'best friend' and the animals killed for their pelts is the way we treat them."

Barry taking a break ...
Dave Barry, the Miami Herald's Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist, plans to take an indefinite leave of absence from the newspaper starting in January.

Barry, 57, said he wanted to spend more time with his family after a hectic summer covering the national political conventions and the Olympics. He said he may return in 2006. "I've never not had a column in a week in all of 30 years, even when I went on vacation," Barry said. "At some point I said, 'Well, maybe it'll be OK to not do it for a while.' And I didn't want to wait until I hated it and I didn't want to wait until I thought, 'Oh, I've got no more columns to write.'"

Barry's weekly column is carried by about 500 newspapers across the country including The Buffalo News.

Barry said he intended to stay in South Florida and continue writing humor and children's books.

Gold cops guilty plea ...
Former "Growing Pains" star Tracey Gold pleaded not guilty this week in Ventura, Calif., to charges that she was driving drunk when her sport utility vehicle overturned on Sept. 3, injuring her husband and 7-year-old son.

Tracey Gold Marshall, 35, wasn't hurt when the SUV flipped on a highway in Moorpark, but her husband, Roby Marshall, 39, injured his neck. The couple's 7-year-old son suffered a broken collarbone and a cut above his eye. The couple's two other sons, a 5-year-old and 4-month-old, were also in the SUV but weren't hurt.

Her lawyer, Blair Berk, declined to discuss details of the incident.

"(Marshall) is acting very responsibly and taking all this very seriously," Berk said. "All of her family -- her husband and her children -- are all incredibly supportive."

Usher's good day ...
Usher had a ton of fun at his 1920s-theme birthday party in Manhattan last weekend.

As a 16-piece band played, the 26-year-old R&B star could be found on the Rainbow Room dance floor, where he, Sean (P. Diddy) Combs, Jay-Z and Jermaine Dupri (looking like successful bootleggers) surrounded their "moll," Mariah Carey, as she did some flapper moves.

Savion Glover tap-danced. Patti LaBelle sang "Happy Birthday." And Usher, sporting his new $40,000 Audemars Piguet watch, always seemed to have a glass full of Moet Nectar Rose.

Naomi Campbell's NC Connect organized the retro evening. Also there were Denzel Washington, Donald Trump and Melania Knauss, Steve Stoute and Penny Marshall.

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