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City of Angles

July 20, 2001|ANN O' NEILL

Fifty million dollars is like, what, the payroll for the cast of "Friends"? What ever , that's what Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are seeking in damages from the Italian designer of their wedding rings.

Yes, their love is very special and impossible to duplicate, but look-alike symbols of that love now are available on the Internet--and in Las Vegas--according to a federal lawsuit the couple filed Wednesday in Los Angeles. The suit was filed just in time for the couple's first wedding anniversary on July 29, which coincides with the deadline to sue under California's statute of limitations.

We don't have to study pictures of their pretty fingers in the celebrity magazines anymore. Now we know: According to court papers, Pitt's ring includes 10 diamonds and the engraving "Jen 2000." Aniston's ring is encrusted with 20 diamonds and engraved with "Brad 2000." Aaawwww. Both wedding bands are made of white gold. The suit gives nary a hint of what the originals cost. The Internet versions offer 12, maybe 13 diamonds, and cost $1,000 apiece.

Pitt and Aniston seek an injunction blocking further sales. In the suit, the couple accuses ring designer Silvia Damiani and Damiani International of exploiting them as "unwilling shills." After all, says the suit by Pitt's longtime lawyer, Jay Lavely, the company has gained "the type of publicity that money can't buy: The purported endorsement and sponsorship of perhaps the world's most recognizable couple."

When we called, the company's Milan offices were closed for the evening.

Just Fine Me

Sarcastic actor David Spade was in rare form Wednesday after he answered a warrant in an Arizona court for failing to deal with a ticket. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of recklessly operating a jet-powered ski at a lake outside Phoenix. After meeting behind closed doors with the judge, the "Just Shoot Me" star ponied up a $177 fine (he probably tips bigger), then went into funny mode for the TV news crews. Hey, it's his medium.

"It's the crime of the century," Spade said. OK, well, maybe this century in that state. "It's just a good excuse to wear a suit when it's 117 [degrees] out." Spade added that he "got busted" and is "racking up jail time" in a desperate attempt to win an Emmy. As if his stun gun attack earlier this year wasn't enough to win over the sympathy vote.

The New 'It' Girl

Frida Kahlo? So last year. Greek diva Maria Callas is the artiste everyone wants to make a movie about. We hear that syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington and her sister, Agapi Stassinopoulos, plan to produce the film version of Huffington's 1981 Callas biography.

Rhino Films will make the movie, even if there are competing projects. Production head Stephen Nemeth, who produced Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," envisions "a small movie, an intimate portrait of a tortured, brilliant woman." Nemeth said he isn't worried about another production of the singer's life story, directed by Franco Zefferelli and starring Fanny Ardant and Jeremy Irons. That project, "Callas Forever," is scheduled to start filming later this month.

"If somebody beats us to it, so be it," Nemeth said.

The script for his as-yet-untitled film will be written by journalist Cliff Rothman, known for his profiles of Artie Shaw in Vanity Fair and Casey Wasserman in GQ. "I am attracted to Callas' story because it's larger than life and operatic, and yet human and universal," Rothman said. "And Arianna is such a gifted thinker, she understands the nuances and the tensions, the capacity for bliss and pain, the grandiosity and the fear."

The Niki Watch

The good news is, supermodel Niki Taylor finally has sufficiently recovered to return home after suffering severe internal injuries in an April car crash. The bad news? While recuperating at a nursing home earlier this month, she had to return briefly to the hospital.

Taylor was released from Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital in late June, but went back July 6 so fluid could be drained from around her lacerated liver, her spokeswoman said. Now, Taylor's at home in Davie, Fla., where she will begin physical therapy. She addressed her public for the first time Wednesday, saying in a statement, "Words cannot express the gratitude in my heart for Dr. [Jeffrey] Nicholas and everyone at Grady who worked so hard to save my life. I am very grateful."

Guilty!

British juries don't seem to have the same problem convicting famous people that we do here in Los Angeles. On Thursday, Lord Jeffrey Archer, the disgraced Tory politician and bestselling novelist, was sentenced to four years in jail after being found guilty of fudging evidence to win a 1987 libel case. Our crack foreign staff was on the case. Check out the front of the book for details.

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Times staff writers Gina Piccalo and Louise Roug contributed to this column. City of Angles runs Tuesday-Friday. E-mail: angles@latimes.com.

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