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'Chicago' Star Lands in Bel-Air


Renee Zellweger, who stars as the singing and dancing Roxie Hart in the upcoming film version of the Broadway musical "Chicago," has purchased a Bel-Air home for about $6.8 million.

Zellweger, who was nominated for a best actress Oscar this year for her role in "Bridget Jones's Diary" (2001), has been living in a smaller Hollywood Hills home. She had bought that home two years ago for about $1.8 million.

The Bel-Air home has seven bedrooms, including a master suite with an office and a workout room, and eight bathrooms in about 6,400 square feet.

Designed by the late Southern California architect Paul Williams, the traditional-style gated home that was recently updated was built in the '30s. The home has a kitchen/family room, library, guest house, maid's quarters, pool house, pool, loggia and gardens.

The house, which sits on two-thirds of an acre, had been on and off the market since March 2001 when it was originally listed at $8.9 million.

Zellweger, 33, starred opposite Tom Cruise in the romantic comedy "Jerry Maguire" (1996) and co-starred with Jim Carrey in "Me, Myself and Irene" (2000).

She co-stars with Ewan McGregor in the movie "Down With Love," which is scheduled to end shooting this week and be released next year. The musical movie "Chicago" is due out Dec. 25.


Simon Cowell, a British record producer and one of three talent judges on the Fox-TV show "American Idol: The Search for a Superstar," has rented a Westside home for about $25,000 a month.

Cowell reportedly rented the home for what has been described as "the duration" of "American Idol." The gated house has five bedrooms and seven bathrooms in about 7,500 square feet. The contemporary villa, built in 1991, also has guest quarters, an office, pool and waterfall.

Cowell's primary residence is a four-bedroom home in London.

"American Idol" is the American version of the British unscripted series "Pop Idol," on which Cowell, 42, also was a judge. The other judges on "American Idol" are singer-dancer Paula Abdul and record executive Randy Jackson.

The show's winner, selected from thousands of amateur singers, will receive a recording contract with 19 Records, a Bertelsmann Music Group label owned by Cowell and Simon Fuller, the show's executive producer and former manager of the Spice Girls. Cowell also will become manager of the winning act.

David Kramer of Coldwell Banker, Beverly Hills North, represented Cowell in renting the house. Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland, Beverly Hills, had the listing, sources said.


Pickfair Lodge--a home built for silent-screen matinee idol and bandleader Buddy Rogers after his longtime wife, actress Mary Pickford, died in 1979--has been listed at just under $4 million.

Pickfair Lodge was built in 1980 on nearly an acre of land at Pickfair, the Beverly Hills estate created in the '30s for Pickford and her then-husband, actor Douglas Fairbanks. Pickford subdivided the property over the years, reducing the size from 15 acres to 3.1 acres by the time the estate was sold in a 1980 probate hearing to L.A. Laker owner Jerry Buss. Buss later sold Pickfair to businessman Meshulam Riklis and his then-wife, actress Pia Zadora.

The Pickfair estate, itself originally a hunting lodge, was turned into a home for Pickford and Fairbanks in 1932 by architect Wallace Neff. The couple divorced in 1936 and a year later, Pickford, dubbed "America's Sweetheart," married Rogers, co-star of "Wings" (1927), the first movie to win an Academy Award for best picture.

Rogers and Pickford continued to live at Pickfair for more than 40 years. She agreed that the mansion could be sold upon her death and encouraged Rogers to build a smaller house resembling Pickfair for himself on part of the property, which he did in building Pickfair Lodge.

After Pickford died, Rogers married Palm Springs real estate agent Beverly Ricono in 1981. The two split their time between Pickfair Lodge and their desert home in Rancho Mirage. Rogers died in 1999 at age 94.

His widow is selling Pickfair Lodge, which has five bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms in 7,000 square feet. The house also has high ceilings, an Oriental-style room and a western bar. A large balcony overlooks the grounds, which has a pool and a paddle tennis court.

Nandu Hinds of Prudential California Realty in Beverly Hills, has the listing.


Jim McDonnell, drummer "Slim Jim Phantom" with the former rockabilly band the Stray Cats, has put the Sunset Strip-area condo he has called home for a decade on the market at $509,000.

McDonnell, 41, also owns the Cat Club next to the Whisky on Sunset Strip. He says he needs a larger place to live because he is getting married. His divorce from actress Britt Ekland, 59, was finalized in spring though the couple have been apart for 10 years.

The condo, which has two bedrooms and two bathrooms in 1,400 square feet, also has hardwood floors, crown moldings, 11-foot ceilings, a fireplace and courtyard views. It is in an eight-unit, French-style complex built in 1938.

The condo complex has housed many celebrities over the years. McDonnell's unit was formerly owned by Gene Simmons of the rock band KISS and his wife, actress Shannon Tweed.

Actress Joan Crawford also lived in the unit at one time, McDonnell said.

Richard Ehrlich of Westside Estate Agency, Beverly Hills, has the listing.


G. Dennis Lortz, producer of the TV series "Ripley's Believe It or Not," has become a first-time home buyer with the purchase of a two-bedroom, Country English-style home in West Hollywood for $525,000.

The single-story home also has two bathrooms, a fireplace, hardwood floors, a breakfast bar and an intercom system.

Kevin Wenig of Gold Star Realty, Encino, represented Lortz in buying.

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