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Posted 12/9/2004 9:50 PM     Updated 12/9/2004 11:34 PM
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All in a lather at 'Ocean's' premiere
HOLLYWOOD — Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives. And so was Wednesday night's star-studded black-tie premiere for Ocean's Twelve, a far-out heist caper (opening Friday) with some soapy elements of its own.

Two Ocean's stars share surprising connections to the long-running NBC daytime soap opera. Cast member Julia Roberts, who skipped the premiere to stay home with her newborn twins, is a Days of Our Lives groupie. And Bruce Willis, 49, who pops up in the film as himself, brought Days actress Nadia Bjorlin, 24, as his date.

Bjorlin, who plays the soap's tragically disfigured soprano diva, Chloe Lane, rode to the premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in a limousine with Willis' family.

Ocean's star Matt Damon, who is expected to shoot The Bourne Ultimatum in 2006, did a double take as Bjorlin strutted down the carpet in a shocking red lacy/feathered peekaboo gown designed by Mark Zunino for Nolan Miller. Without acknowledging a romance, Bjorlin, who had her hand on Willis' lap at the after-party, had this to say about her Die Hard hunk: "He's very sexy. Men who look like real men are sexy ... as are a lot of the men in this movie."

Bjorlin's Days co-star Matt Cedeno wasn't working this week and was surprised to learn of the Bjorlin/Willis pairing. "He's a very charismatic guy, and she's a little on the young side," he noted.

Roberts' twins, Phinnaeus and Hazel, are now almost 2 weeks old, and Ocean's cast member Catherine Zeta-Jones has sent along presents. "We got gifts from my friend Patsy's amazing baby shop in New York," the Versace-clad Zeta-Jones said. Though she had to leave the premiere immediately after her red-carpet duties to catch a plane back to the Mexico set of Zorro 2, her husband, Michael Douglas, stayed on for the film and party.

Brad Pitt wasn't talking, and Bernie Mac, who was expected to make his first public appearance since suffering from exhaustion, didn't show.

But the rest of the Ocean's cast explained why they haven't yet sent baby gifts to Roberts:

Damon: "In all fairness, I have a feeling the babies are pretty well covered. Julia would probably rather have me donate a toy to someone else."

Andy Garcia: "I don't even have her phone number."

Don Cheadle: "Seeing as how the babies are mine, I'll have plenty of time to shower them."

George Clooney, whose ruptured disk was still causing him pain, was escorted by two dates — one dressed in black (mom Nina Clooney); the other in white (model/girlfriend Lisa Snowden). Clooney said he gave Roberts the gift of his medical expertise, which he honed during his five seasons playing a doctor on E.R.

"I was with her in the birthing room at the time," Clooney joked. "I played a pediatrician on television and explained to her that I'd only worked on background extras before, but she wanted me there anyway. Fortunately, I left only a very small scar."

All joking aside, Clooney was back in the hospital himself Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. to check the condition of his ruptured disk, which he believes he injured during a fight scene on the set of his upcoming film Syriana. At his side for the checkup was Ocean's producer Jerry Weintraub, who praised Clooney's red-carpet courage: "George is in pain tonight, but he's a real trouper."