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KIDMAN DEALS WITH THE MOBS

Talking with Nicole Kidman the other day, I asked the Oscar winner how she felt about being mobbed in Paris recently, when she appeared there as Chanel's new spokeswoman.

Nicole: I was stunned. People asked me, "Is this your life, being mobbed like that?" I said no, not really. I can kind of step out of that phase of being too well-known. I am somehow able to escape.

Liz: Is it fun to be the new face of Chanel?

Nicole: It's wonderful. It's a huge honor in the sense of the people who have done it before. But, at the same time, I got to work again with Baz Luhrmann. He constructed this mini-movie, and so we got to play together. Since before "Moulin Rouge!" he is one of my closest friends and confidants.

Liz: I will ask you again, as I have before -- aren't you working too hard, just going from one thing to another?

Nicole: Well, before "Bewitched" starting filming, I just said no, that I couldn't begin it any earlier. I took two months off and went back to Australia, where I surfed. I cooked. I have a beach house. I had my kids, my mom and dad, and I put a message on my phone, "Please don't try to call me. Don't leave a message. I won't call you back." I think this made some people angry, but I really don't care.

Liz: That's the first time I ever heard you utter the words "I don't care." You are the most down-to-earth and accessible of stars. And I think so many big stars are aloof after they have a hit, and they never want to take a chance.

Nicole: I never see myself as "having a hit" or being a "star." I am always surprised at how lucky I've been.

Liz: Tell me about your friendship with Lauren Bacall, with whom you've now made two movies -- "Dogville" and "Birth." She is very motherly about you.

Nicole: I love her. I'll do anything for her. She is a great, great woman. I have so much respect for her. She's no-nonsense, but she's got a lot of heart and much love in her. I am just grateful she is in my life. She has great advice, doesn't sugarcoat things, and I really trust her.

Leonardo DiCaprio sums up his reticence in December's Vanity Fair. He says: "It's a really obvious thing to say, but the more people know too much about who you really are -- and it's a fundamental thing -- the more the mystery is taken away from the artist, and the harder it is for people to believe that person in a particular role."

Leonardo wouldn't even be giving his interview to Evgenia Peretz were it not to promote Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator." In this, DiCaprio portrays Howard Hughes during his halcyon days. Advance word is great.

I've always bet that Leo regretted going down with the "Titanic" because of the frenzy it created for him. In this long, excellent article, he admits he wishes he'd refused the big ship and accepted "Boogie Nights," a movie that did flaunt one titanic special effect but would have saved Leo all that paparazzi wear and tear. And women throwing themselves at him, too.

Here's my message to women. For a while, I had on my desk an article about women being tortured and killed in prison. When I first looked at it, I thought it was about the horrors in Abu Ghraib Prison. Actually, it described what had happened to suffragettes before, during and after 1900, as women sought the vote.

The piece was so revolting, I could hardly read it, and then I misplaced it. Today, I'm thinking of those tortured, sacrificed and denied women. We need to honor them and put our voting franchise to use.

"If not now, when?" asked the Jewish philosopher Hillel. When do we intend to become fully functioning in doing our civic duty? Women must ask whether they intend to continue to let well-off, white American males decide the country's fate.

Tribune Media Services

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