The Princesses and the Paparazzi

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

We've known them as a long-suffering nurse, a mobster's manipulative former flame and a presidential contender with a past. But Julianna Margulies, Anjelica Huston and Joan Allen took us back to more mystical times as they worked the red carpet the other night at the premiere of the TNT television movie "The Mists of Avalon."

The three actresses play powerful sisters in King Arthur's medieval court in the two-parter, which first airs on July 15 and 16. Emmy-winner Margulies, known to "ER" viewers as nurse Carol Hathaway, plays a sword-wielding witch and performs her own stunts on horseback. Oscar-winner Huston, who is a goddess, gets to play one. And Golden Globe and Oscar nominee Allen, usually cast as a goody-goody, plays evil incarnate in the movie version of Marion Zimmer Bradley's bestseller.

Margulies, who rode in competitions as a teenager, climbed back on a horse--and managed to stay on--for the shoot in Prague. "These horses were so well trained, the riding was easy," she said. She did get knocked on the noggin--by a stuntman swinging on a rope. "But I didn't fall off the horse. I just got kicked really badly and I didn't quite understand what had happened. Then at the end, I'm like 'Ow!"' she recalled.

"It was great to play a goddess," Huston said. "Can't top that! It was particularly great seeing Joan Allen play evil. I'd never seen that and I know how much she relished it."

Allen agreed that being bad can be oh so good.

"I get to be mean and scheming and evil. It was great!" she said. "I've played a lot of characters that have some pretty sturdy moral standing, so it was fun to be able to play one that's kind of off-center."

Kissing in Public

You'd think from all the fuss that Prince Charles had publicly swept Camilla Parker Bowles into his arms and planted a big wet one on her. As he arrived earlier this week at a charity event she hosted, the prince kissed his dowdy love on each cheek, Continental style. It was their first public display of affection, and the British papers went wild.

"Would you snog your chick like this?" asked a headline in the Daily Mail of London. "Chas ditches stiff upper lip," said the Daily Record. "At last, a public kiss for Camilla from her prince," observed the more conservative Daily Telegraph.

As for the kiss itself, it was a couple of dry little pecks, really. Hardly what one would call full-blown snogging. They even left the party half an hour apart. Get over it, people.

One Unhappy Ex

Author Tony Robbins, guru to the self-improvement set, is engaged to marry a former health food store clerk who calls herself Sage. But the 28-year-old Canadian woman's ex-husband is making trouble. Mattress merchant John Lynch is telling anyone who will listen that the self-help millionaire helped himself to his wife.

Not true, says Robbins, who has filed a defamation suit in Canada against Lynch and two Canadian newspapers.

Famous for leading seminars in which participants show their mental mettle by walking on hot coals, Robbins accuses Lynch of spreading false stories that he and Sage had an extramarital affair. Both Robbins and his intended deny any hanky-panky, saying in court papers that they didn't meet until long after the Lynches unclinched.

A Canadian judge finalized the Lynch divorce late last week. Robbins was officially divorced in March from his wife, Becky, to whom he dedicated his 1991 bestseller, "Awaken the Giant Within."

A publicity war has erupted: On one side are Robbins, his fiancee, her parents, and an army of lawyers and publicists. On the other, Lynch and his "legal adviser," Gary Sir John Carlson III, who the Robbins camp contends is neither a knight nor a lawyer.

Lynch, 39, says his marriage to the woman he knew as Bonnie Pearl Lynch started heading south soon after she attended a Robbins seminar in 1999. But she says they separated in May 1998.

Lynch says the breakup has left him depressed and suicidal and has hurt business at his company, Instant Bedrooms. Robbins and his fiancee say Lynch is making a stink because Robbins is rich.

The Stork Report

It's a boy for "Today" show host Matt Lauer and his model wife, Annette Roque Lauer. Jack Matthew Lauer weighed in at 7 pounds, 3 ounces in New York on Tuesday. It's the couple's first child.

The Niki Watch

Supermodel Niki Taylor has recovered enough from liver and lung injuries to leave the hospital and enter a private nursing home, where she'll undergo physical rehabilitation.

Taylor, whose condition was upgraded last week from critical to good, was released from Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital on Tuesday. The name of the center where she continues her recuperation wasn't released. Taylor, 26, was a passenger in a Nissan Maxima that swerved off the road and hit a telephone pole on April 30.

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