Byline: Aileen Mehle

So Cameron Diaz opens today in the funny flick, "Feeling Minnesota," opposite Keanu Reeves. But the rising star claims she knows not what she's doing when it comes to acting. "I just get out there and do it," she says. "It's not a job you'd want to do for the money. There are too many demands--too much pressure. But I love the challenge." She'd just as well better learn to love the money too. Challenges are fine, but you can't eat them. By the way, Cameron says when she first started modeling she was a "before" girl who couldn't even get a comb through her hair. It seems that now she can.

Those sneaky photographers' target last week was Elle Macpherson, caught in a clinch without too many clothes on with a gent reported to be mega-rich Swedish businessman Arpad Buisson. They were aboard a luxury yacht cruising the Spanish Mediterranean, the sweet things.

Chris O'Donnell, whose new movie is "The Chamber" alongside Gene Hackman and Faye Dunaway, says his chums just love going to bars with him because it's the best way to get acquainted with girls. Now, he says, these same chums are also being bribed by the media to give interviews. "I tell them, 'Don't even think about it,"' says Chris. That's really telling them, honey.

Things ain't so hot at Monaco's pink palace right now, what with one disaster following another, but everyplace else this summer in the South of France was fantastique. Tout le monde in designer frocks and major bijoux--no one seemed particularly worried about the possibility of lurking banditti--plus husbands and other pleasure-seekers were out every night, disporting themselves in restaurants, at parties aboard yachts and at beautiful private homes. Very few things gladden the heart like watching the rich at play. (Oh, pooh; if you won the lottery tomorrow, you'd do exactly the same thing.)
Two of the most wonderful private houses on the Cote d'Azur, maybe in the world, are Harding and Mary Lawrence's ravishing villa, La Fiorentina, perfectly located on a point on the sea in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, and La Leopolda, the magnificent Villefranche residence of international banker Edmond Safra and his wife, Lily, named after King Leopold of the Belgians who built the almost-palace. Lately, the rumor keeps rising that La Fiorentina is on the market. Not so. Such a lovely round number as $200 million has been bruited as the sales price, and the Sultan of Brunei, the richest man in the world, has been declared interested in the property. The sultan did indeed send emissaries, but with his enormous entourage, La Fiorentina was deemed not big enough to hold all those bodies--and maybe all that money. To repeat, the house is not for sale, but if anyone waved maybe $100 million in front of the Lawrences' very nice noses, La Fiorentina could well change hands. Meanwhile, the Lawrences have bought a lovely, small Georgian house right smack in the middle of Dublin and are in the process of making it even more beautiful. Dublin, of course, is the new in place, and the Andrew Lloyd Webbers (Sir and Lady) dined at La Fiorentina before leaving their house in the South of France for their horse farm in Ireland the next day. Lady Lloyd Webber, the lithe Madeleine, is mad for horses, and surely somebody must have brought it to her attention that there are more of them in Ireland than in the South of France.
As for the Safras, both noted for their exquisite taste and collections, they have a new apartment in Monte Carlo where they will spend time in the winter, but they'll stay at La Leopolda in the summer. The few who have seen the Safra apartment say it is so glorious and impeccable in every detail that that may be what heaven looks like.
Still another marvelous house in the 'hood is the old Margaret Biddle house on the water acquired by the British heiress Vivien Duffield and Jocelyn Stevens. Everyone, including that master of taste, Hubert de Givenchy, despaired of Vivien's ever being able to rescue the place, but she has done a superb job of renovating and decorating the villa, and it is now a thing of beauty--even Givenchy would have to agree.

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