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Posted 10/1/2003 4:53 PM
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Douglas, Zeta-Jones are just loverly at 'Cruelty' premiere
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif — What do Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones discuss in the privacy of their mansion? Clearly not their on-screen love interests.

Tuesday night at the premiere of her new romantic comedy, Intolerable Cruelty (opening Oct. 10), Zeta-Jones drew comparisons between her coupling with co-star George Clooney and her husband's 1980s partnership with Kathleen Turner (Romancing the Stone, The War of the Roses).

"(Cruelty) definitely lends itself to those old Hollywood couplings," said the 34-year-old beauty, who plays a gold digger opposite Clooney's suave divorce attorney. "I think my husband was the last, with Kathleen, where you see the movie and instantaneously want to see more of them."

Later in the night, Douglas was taken aback to hear his wife's comparison. "Catherine and I spend every day and night together, and she's never once mentioned this to me," he said, promising, "You can bet I'll ask her about this tonight." Still, Douglas, who brought along mom Diana, had to agree with his Mrs. "The films are similar, though this one's more sophisticated. And remember, Kathleen and I hated each other to death (in Roses)."

Holding court on the opposite side of the Motion Picture Academy lobby with his parents was Clooney, who'd flown in for the day from the Washington, D.C., set of K Street, the new HBO series he's producing with Steven Soderbergh. The former Caped Crusader (1997's Batman & Robin) gamely offered his advice for the newest Batman, Christian Bale: "Hopefully he won't tank the franchise the way I did," he joked. "I set the bar so low he shouldn't have a problem."

Maintaining a discreet distance from Clooney throughout the evening was his sometime girlfriend, Krista Allen, who hung out on the patio with her manager. Allen will pop up later this TV season as love interests on Frasier and Two and a Half Men. She summed up Clooney's performance as "great," before sealing her lips as if to convey, "That's all you're getting."

In the film, Clooney's vain character obsesses over his teeth. The actor says his real-life obsession involves routine self-examinations for "nasal hair," while Zeta- Jones, dressed in a black Gucci skirt, Christian La Croix top and Manolo Blahnik shoes, admitted to sharing the worries of many women: "I think every woman in the world turns to their boyfriend, or girlfriend, or husband and says, 'Does my butt look fat in this?' It's like it's preprogrammed at birth." So what's her husband's response? "Michael says, 'I'm not going to even comment on that anymore. Just get in the car.' "

Clooney and Zeta-Jones became such chums during filming that he invited her to his home on Italy's Lake Como. "Myself and my two children and my husband and my nannies all arrived at his house to swim, eat and drink lots of wine," said Zeta-Jones, who next month begins playing a flight attendant opposite Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg's Terminal.

Also attending from the cast: Geoffrey Rush, who plays a soap opera producer and whose real-life mother is a Days of Our Lives addict; Cedric the Entertainer, accompanied by wife Lorna, who is seven weeks away from delivering their first daughter; and one of Zeta-Jones' patsies in the film, Billy Bob Thornton, who admitted to encountering several gold-digging women in his day. "You get used sometimes," Thornton said, "but you learn."