Cornish Update: No Baby Hens | Queen Aretha's Surprise Birthday | Hollywood Trial: Fields' 'Fifth' Symphony

Cornish Update: No Baby Hens

You never know what people are going to seize on.

Earlier today, I wrote really what was supposed to be an appreciation of the movie “Stop-Loss” starring Ryan Phillippe and girlfriend Abbie Cornish.

I wrote, as an aside, that they were apparently having a child together. I thought it was a reiteration of known news. It was certainly not presented as a scoop. As readers of this column know, we nearly never write about Hollywood pregnancies or romances, I blithely tossed off that tidbit thinking it was public knowledge. Otherwise, it would have been the headline, you see.

This touched off a firestorm. All the tabloids went crazy. The Defamer blog jumped on it, so did Huffington Post.

This weird little toss off was more important than the 80,000 soldiers who’d been recycled back to Iraq, the gist of the movie.

Alas, Abbie, whom most people don’t know anyway, is not with child. (I’m surprised that she is counted so high as a “celebrity.” Could the average reader pick her out of a lineup?)

Nevertheless I had to endure the obnoxious bleating of her publicist. I guess the idea is that if you’re rude and keep talking over the person you called, the journalist will not write about the client again.

Agreed: Since Abbie Cornish is unknown to the public, I will leave her that way. She had a nice performance in the “Elizabeth” sequel, and I thought she was good in “Stop Loss.” I wrote nice things about that movie, but Cornish’s publicist didn’t bother to read that column before she called me.

So: No more Cornish, pregnant or not. On to bigger chickens! But do see “Stop Loss.”

Queen Aretha's Surprise Birthday

The folks still finishing up drinks in the Ritz Carlton’s foyer lounge got a neat surprise Tuesday night around 10:30 p.m.: a birthday party for the Queen of Soul herself, Miss Aretha Franklin, attended by about 20 close pals.

Franklin, in a beautiful strawberry-pink Chanel-like suit, had just come from seeing a performance of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" on Broadway with a group of about 10 people. She arrived at the Broadhurst Theater in a tank-like Rolls Royce Silver Cloud and remained in her seat during the two intermissions while fans came over to say hello.

Other stars in the sold-out audience included Leslie Uggams and Wesley Snipes.

After the show, Franklin alighted at the Ritz, where she was presented with a gorgeous homemade birthday cake and plenty of kudos from old friends like R&B greats Chuck Jackson ("I Keep Forgetting," "Any Day Now"), Freddie Jackson ("Rock Me Tonight" — no relation) and "Cat" star Terrence Howard. She glowed while chatting with the "Hustle and Flow" actor, who’s so good in "Cat." (He takes a three-week break beginning April 13 for "Iron Man" promotion.)

Also on the guest list was Luther Vandross’ favorite singer, Fonzie Thornton, off and on with Chic for 30 years, who’s been singing back-up for Aretha on tour. At last weekend’s sold-out show at Radio City, he was joined by the legendary Cissy Houston. Cissy, whose daughter Whitney, is a singer of some note, sang on all of Franklin’s classic hits recorded circa 1967-1968.

It was the most convivial affair, with Aretha accepting gifts and doling out slices of cake. Franklin told the small crowd, "I could move here, it’s so nice!" But she remains a Detroit girl, and don’t believe those stories you heard last week that her house is in foreclosure.

"What did they say? I owed like $400." She laughed, thinking of the tabloid press. "Some people…"

Franklin is shopping her next album, which is completed, to record labels. She probably will not go with Clive Davis’ J Records this time and is weighing all options. (L.A. Reid, are you listening?) After a flurry of shows this spring, Franklin will head to the Hamptons for her annual retreat. She’s also thinking about spending August in Manhattan. (September would be better, no?)

How old is she on this birthday? Kids, Aretha Franklin is timeless.

Hollywood Trial: Fields' 'Fifth' Symphony

Will infamous and feared Hollywood attorney Bert Fields invoke his Fifth Amendment rights if he takes the stand in the Anthony Pellicano case?

Some say yes, others say no. Early stories on Tuesday indicated he would; Wednesday's New York Times says no.

The main thing is this: Nearly every witness so far in the case mentioned Fields as an integral part of Pellicano’s world. The quote, "With Fields you get Pellicano" has become better-known in Hollywood than "With six you get egg roll."

The question is: Will prosecutors really get into detail with him if he does take the stand, or will his appearance be a non-starter? That appears to be the case for Brad Grey, who came and went with little fanfare — unless, of course, he’s recalled. That’s always a possibility.