OSCAR nominee Julia Roberts isn't happy in her latest role as the superstar whose estranged half-sister committed suicide in an apparent drug overdose last weekend.
Yet the 46-year-old actress, who rarely puts a foot wrong on the big screen, appears to be lacking direction on how to manage the all-too-real scandal swirling ever since the body of Nancy Motes, 37, was pulled out of a bathtub by her fiance John Dilbeck last week.
Julia's response to the dredging up of Nancy's recent tortured tweets (Motes posted on January 20, "So my 'sister' said that with all her friends & fans she doesn't need any more love. Just so you all know 'America's Sweetheart' is a B****!!") has been mute, although there have been a flurry of stories from "sources" close to the actress that portray her sibling as an emotionally unstable mess hooked on prescription medication.
True? Perhaps. Cold? Possibly. Calculated? Absolutely, say media-players who suspect Roberts is holding her powder for what could be a nasty legal battle with Dilbeck who insists the woman he was supposed to marry in May wasn't an addict – just a tortured soul who had been, as she tweeted last month, "abandoned by my family".
According to published reports, Dilbeck is now planning on asserting his rights to be named the primary beneficiary of Motes's estate.
Also up for grabs: an eight-page suicide note left by Motes that allegedly contains dark family secrets which she wanted made public after her death.
Potentially dark days ahead for Hollywood's Pretty Woman.
Hollande is man in the middle
MICHELLE Obama brought her A-game to last week's state dinner for Francois Hollande. And not just because of her $12,000 Carolina Herrera ballgown – with its foxy black lace bodice – or her Farrah Fawcett blow-out hairstyle.
The First Lady also managed to put a smooth finish to weeks of mosquito speculation about how the White House would handle the suddenly single Hollande by seating the frisky French President between herself and Barack for dinner (American caviar, a slab of dry-aged rib eye and malted chocolate cake) under a huge white tent pitched on the South Lawn.
The fact that the pint-sized Hollande looked like "a sad-sack singleton" (Vanity Fair) sandwiched between his Amazonian smug married hosts was probably a random oversight, yet guests (including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Stephen Colbert, Bradley Cooper and Suki Waterhouse, JJ Abrams and the Rev Al Sharpton) are still wondering if the choice of U2's One (performed by Mary J Blige) to serenade the guest of honour (who skipped on to the dancefloor accompanied by both the First Lady and the President) might have been below the belt.
Hillary's 'loony toon' moment
HERE'S hoping Monica Lewinsky hears about Hillary Clinton's lecture to NYU students last Thursday night. Particularly the bit when Clinton said that the most important tip she could offer women was a lesson she took from one of her favourite role models, Eleanor Roosevelt: "Grow skin like a rhinoceros."
Lewinsky, now 40, might keep those words in mind when she reads the contents of freshly released documents, written by Hillary confidante, the late Diane Blair, in which Mrs Clinton describes the former intern as a "narcissistic loony toon" who happened to approach the president during a moment of personal weakness.
In a 1998 phone call, recorded in Blair's diary, Hillary said that the president had been brought low by the recent deaths of his mother, her father and the couple's friend Vince Foster. Still, Blair noted, "It was a huge personal lapse. And [Hillary] is not taking responsibility for it."
Elsewhere in the Blair documents, which have been donated to the University of Arkansas, Hillary hit back at accusations that her husband was guilty of sexually harassing Lewinsky.
"It was gross inappropriate behaviour, but it was consensual (was not a power relationship) and was not sex within any real meaning (standup, liedown, oral, etc) of the term," Blair wrote of Hillary's feelings on the affair.
In a postscipt that will inevitably come back to haunt the presumptive presidential candidate, Blair also noted that Hillary told her how the couple "tried to manage" Lewinsky after the affair ended but things grew "beyond control".
Handbagged by Valentine howler
THE biggest faux pas during New York Fashion Week didn't happen on the catwalk but the sidewalk. In a gaffe that will go down in the annals of 'how-not-to' for budding publicists, the NYC-based celebrity relations manager for Valentino issued a press release alerting media outlets that actress Amy Adams was carrying a brand new, $2,500 Valentino bag while walking on the Upper East Side on the afternoon of February 6.
"We are pleased to announce Amy Adams carrying the Valentino Garavani Rockstud Double bag from the Spring/Summer 2014 collection," trumpeted the release which was accompanied by photos of Adams and her fiance, Darren Le Gallo, getting out of a car with their heads down.
Unfortunately, the PR failed to note that Adams had been photographed walking into Philip Seymour Hoffman's wake. Terse words were exchanged over the howler.
"Amy Adams is not a paid spokesperson for Valentino, and the suggestion she would use this moment to participate in a promotion is truly appalling," the actress's spokeswoman Megan MossPachon said in a statement last week, which promoted a rather tepid apology from Valentino for "an innocent mistake".
The NY Post had the last word by plastering the story on its front page under the headline 'Dead Carpet'.