Rambling Reporter

6:00 AM PST 06/05/2012 by Merle Ginsberg & Gary Baum

Something Wild: When Oprah Winfrey announced June 1 that Cheryl Strayed's hiking memoir Wild was the first pick for her revived book club, among those most excited by the announcement were Reese Witherspoon and her producing partner Bruna Papandrea. The pair, who recently joined to form their new Pacific Standard banner, had optioned the book in November, four months before its March publication date, as a starring vehicle for the actress. "It was the first thing we picked up together," says Papandrea of the project, which Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right) is on board to direct. As a result of the Winfrey pick, the Knopf book has seen its Amazon sales position spike from No. 175 to No. 12 as of press time. "Wild is a magical and evocative book about losing everything -- family, money, your mother, your partner -- and finding your true spirit alone in the woods," Witherspoon tells THR.

Jessica Simpson's Baby Is No Bump for People

People is suffering some money-losing baby blues after paying $850,000 for pictures of Jessica Simpson, her fiance, Eric Johnson, and their newborn daughter, Maxwell Drew, for its latest issue. The ploy got quite a bit of media buzz, but THR has learned it sold a paltry 950,000 copies -- a good bit under People's weekly average of 1.3 million.

Political Bromance Brews

Once the Democratic National Committee's biggest individual donor, entertainment mogul Haim Saban quietly withdrew into political "hiatus" after Barack Obama's election. The admirer of Bill Clinton and strong supporter of Hillary's unsuccessful White House run has sat things out the past two years, but he recently told THR he decided to again support the DNC after a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office during which Saban and Obama "talked policy." Saban didn't give details about the meeting, but it's well known that one of Saban's major concerns is U.S.-Israel relations. On June 14, Saban and his wife, Cheryl, will open their palatial Beverly Hills estate for a fund-raiser for the host committee behind the Democratic National Convention, which takes place Sept. 3 to 6 in Charlotte, N.C. President Clinton will be the guest of honor and no doubt working the room of the high-rolling crowd.

Too Sexy to Make the Cut

At Glamour's dinner May 31 for July cover girl Julianne Hough, the actress told THR that not all of her roles will be as bump-and-grind as the heavy-metal waitress Sherrie Christian of Rock of Ages, in which her notorious lap-dance scene with Tom Cruise ended up on the cutting-room floor. "They cut it because they discovered that women who saw it wound up not liking me," says Hough. (Never fear, dance fans: The scene will make it onto the DVD, she says.) The actress is happy to report that in her next film, Diablo Cody's untitled directorial debut, "I play a Christian evangelist with burns over two-thirds of her body. No one will want to see my body in that!"

Hugh Jackman Bites

Tom Hooper is so fanatical about injecting realistic despair into his new version of Les Miserables, he's committed to re-creating all aspects of the hellish street life of Victor Hugo's 1862 novel. A visitor to the movie's elaborate set was lunching with star Hugh Jackman when they realized he had to take out his teeth to eat a sandwich. Turns out Hooper is having all of his stars -- including Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne -- wear prosthetic rotting teeth indicative of the period. He also spread cow dung on the set so the actors could smell a gritty street. Miserable, indeed.

Power Lunch

Just another Tuesday at The Grill on the Alley: Jeffrey Katzenberg in one corner, A-list attorney Alan Hergott in another, Ziffren Brittenham partner Cliff Gilbert-Lurie sharing a table with producer Keith Addis, producer Richard Zanuck breaking bread with Laurent Bouzereau (who's directing a documentary on Zanuck to air on TCM) and producer Iain Canning in a booth not far from the front door with WME's Megan Silverman. … Johnny Depp hung out with Mick Jagger, Rande Gerber, Linda Evangelista and Kate Moss at Restaurant at the Sunset Marquis. … The Amazing Spider-Man director Marc Webb and his producer Matt Tolmach hit Barney Greengrass. … Kristen Stewart visited Napa Valley Grille. … Glee's Darren Criss joined a big group at Pace. … Lana Del Rey and Steven Tyler went for Mexican at the new Pink Taco on the Sunset Strip. … Felicity Huffman, Kate Walsh, Project Runway producer Desiree Gruber and Maurine Slutsky of the Entertainment Industry Foundation shared a table at Mr. C. … Sam Waterston of HBO's upcoming The Newsroom lunched at Ago. … Madeleine Stowe popped into Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air. … Recent visitors to Kate Mantilini include Julianna Margulies, Tyra Banks, Mel Brooks, Nancy Sinatra and Peter Facinelli.

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