Sometimes, we wonder if Jennifer Aniston just likes to yank the tabloids' chain every now and then. Case in point: The same week photos surfaced showing her walking arm-in-arm with co-star Gerard Butler on the paparazzi-staked-out set of "The Bounty," she was spotted picking out a trousseau's worth of lacy unmentionables at a New York boutique.
"Jen's Revenge!" predictably blares the latest cover of Star magazine, which features a shot of the strolling pair. Seems the tab is convinced that the everlasting love- and adult-stable-male-seeking actress, after failing to ignite with Bradley Cooper, now has a budding love connection with her leading man.
"Let me put it this way, they're both hot and single!" an overenthusiastic production spy tells the tab. "After they finish a scene, they stick around so they can hang out with each other. Neither is in a rush to leave."
On the day Jen and Gerry were snapped walking together, they were joking around and seemed "very intimate," an eyewitness relays to photo agency InfDaily.com (we're not sure if the fact that Butler is carrying a bowl and a fork in his hand makes their moseying more or less intimate). They allegedly broke contact once they saw the photographer.
Also fueling the rumor mill is the position of Aniston's arm on Butler's barrel chest, a pose that has raised eyebrows (and led to some shaky conclusion leaping) because it sort of mirrors her body language with Brad Pitt in a picture taken on Jan. 6, 2005, the day before they announced their marriage was kaput.
Other less-than-convincing evidence that the Butler did it: Star claims that Jen has asked for repeated takes of their lip-lock scenes ("She says Gerard's a great kisser," points out the snitch) and contends that the co-stars have enjoyed one-on-one rehearsal sessions in the actor's hotel room.
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Sure, the more cynical types out there might note how the romance reports conveniently come on the heels of Aniston's non-starter of a dinner date last month with Cooper, who has insisted she's "simply, simply just a friend," a point he appeared to drive home when he stepped out with Renee Zellweger a couple of weeks later. The whispers also arrive just as Butler starts promoting the heck out of his Katherine Heigl romcom, "The Ugly Truth."
But it seems Gerard, who once colorfully squashed rumors that he was wooing Cameron Diaz by saying, "If I take a dog for a walk, apparently I'm [bleeping] my dog," is fed up with his new tabloid status.
"That is just annoying. People say I'm always dating so and so, and sometimes it's three people in one day," the beefy actor tells People magazine. "I'm trying to make movies, work hard and do my best. Then this kind of thing happens and people start to associate me more with that. It gets ridiculous."
Aniston, he's quick to point out, "is one classy lady. Everyday I go to work with her, I'm always surprised about how cool, easy and down to earth and real she is."
But it appears sweet talk won't get him anywhere. "They get along really well, but Jen only likes him as a friend," explains a source. "She can't see herself dating him."
And Butler apparently won't get to see the spoils of Jen's lacy retail therapy on Tuesday, despite OK! magazine speculating that it could "aid in her pursuit" of him.
She reportedly dropped $1,128.53 on a variety of "very sexy" and silky foundation garments at Manhattan boutique Only Hearts, selecting, among other things, a purple babydoll, green boyshorts, a mocha thong and several slips.
"She wouldn't give away who she was buying them for!" says a staffer.
By the by, the store is reportedly located just a block from ex-boyfriend John Mayer's apartment, which will likely provide next week's tabloid headline: "Jen's Revenge Undies Shopping!"