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PROOF OF STRIFE: With his latest bar brawl not a week old, Russell Crowe has decided he is suffering from massive stress and will take a break from performing.

Crowe, who recently finished filming a movie in Mexico, said Monday he is returning to Australia for an indefinite time to be with his girlfriend, Danielle Spencer, and his father, Alex, who has carpal tunnel syndrome and will have several operations next month. "Though I love all aspects of my work . . . the success of the last three or four years has also brought with it an undeniably massive level of stress, not only to me but to my immediate and extended family and to my friends and friendships," Crowe said in a statement he signed "Love, Russell."

A fight in a London bar with a New Zealand rugby player last week capped a year in which Crowe has contributed his fair share to his stress level: In February he pushed a British TV executive against a wall and reamed him out for cutting short his speech at the British Oscars, and in August reports out of Mexico said he threw an actor across a bar while waiting for a drink.

His nonpugilistic problems have included stories that he flew his personal hair stylist to the Mexico movie site and excoriation in Australia when he backed out of a commitment to film a Red Cross telethon appeal for the country's Bali bombing victims. (Crowe said he wasn't happy with the way the Red Cross was accounting for the money it was raising.)

Crowe had been scheduled to do two movies next year, and Monday he canceled an early 2003 U.S. tour for his band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, to open for the Pretenders.

The Grunts' manager, Andrew Watt, tells Australia's Herald Sun that Crowe's decision is "very much from the heart."

KEEP YOUR MONEY: British bookmaker William Hill is offering 4-1 odds on Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck splitting up within a year of marriage, reports. Odds for the two being together for 10 years are a surprisingly low 20-1.

YOU DIDN'T WANT TO SEE ANYTHING ELSE ANYWAY: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is playing on roughly one of every four movie screens in North America, the New York Times reports.

THE FUR FLIES: Little will be left to the imagination during Wednesday's CBS showing of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, but this will be:

Four animal rights activists stormed the stage as supermodel Gisele Bundchen walked down the runway during the taping of the show Thursday night. The party crashers, carrying signs that said "Gisele: Fur Scum," were from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a group that had no problem letting the Benihana steakhouse chain co-sponsor its annual banquet last year but thinks Bundchen is a reprobate for working for Blackglama, a fur coat company.

The protesters were removed by security guards, according to an Associated Press report. Three received summonses for disorderly conduct.

The runway segment was restaged and retaped.