Consumerist spiritualist

Oprah Winfrey

and actor

Denzel Washington

sat down with Parade mag to share lessons from their earliest mentors.

Oprah, dubbed by Parade "one of the most influential people on the planet," said, "My fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Benton, was the first person that I really could see believed in me. She would tell me that I was just the smartest little girl she'd ever seen."

Oprah said she tries to instill that confidence in young girls she meets.

Denzel said the spark that got him going was lit by "a young counselor at the Boys Club who told me, 'You know, with all your smarts, you can do anything you want to do in life.'

"I can remember like it was yesterday, walking out of the club . . . going, 'I can do anything.' "

Jodie speaks; world reacts

Gossipers around the globe are abuzz this weekend after word began to spread about a comment

Jodie Foster

made Dec. 4 at the Women in Entertainment Power 100 breakfast in Los Angeles.

Foster, who was presented with the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award, gave a shout-out to "my beautiful Cydney," referring to movie producer Cydney (with a C) Bernard.

Jodie's expression of gratitude to Bernard is being widely interpreted as public acknowledgment of a female lover, laying to rest years of speculation and idle chatter about Foster's sexuality.

"Jodie Foster comes out . . . finally," declared the Times of London.

The Oscar-winning actress has opted never to discuss her personal life. Her natural reticence is possibly bolstered by her name being associated years ago with would-be presidential assassin John W. Hinckley, who claimed he had shot Ronald Reagan to impress her. (She and Hinckley did not know each other.)

According to the Times, Jodie and Cydney (with a C) met in '93 on the set of Sommersby. Since then, Jodie has given birth to two boys, Charles, 9, and Kit, 6. She has never revealed the identity of their father(s).

Scary revelations from Kat

In an interview with In Style mag (excerpted by MSNBC.com),

Katie Holmes

, 28, gives the public a glimpse into one of the greatest mysteries in history: What turns on

Tom Cruise

?

"Tom likes me in a suit and a mini every now and then," says Kat, the latter half of that alchemically bonded alloy, TomKat.

"I like it when he likes it," Kat says, suggestively. Then she's pure - albeit white-hot sexy - innocence: "It makes me blush."

Brit: A shambles all around

Britney Spears

, who has recently been called a bad parent, a lifeless lip-syncher, a dangerous driver, and an all-around terrible human being, has now been declared a sartorial disaster.

US Weekly has named Brit the worst-dressed star of the year. The mag cites the singer's "crazy wig collection and continuing downward style spiral."

Brit is in good company: The list includes Beyonce, Kate Bosworth, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz.

Late night to reappear?

USAToday.com says NBC will announce this week that the

Tonight Show With

Jay Leno

and

Late Night With

Conan O'Brien

will resume airing new episodes next month, after nine weeks of repeats because of the writers' strike. CBS' late-night dudes,

David Letterman

and

Craig Ferguson

, also are thinking about a January return.

Carson Daly, who resumed his NBC show two weeks ago, has had to face picketers and hecklers.

Her lotus tree

Hilary Swank

traveled to India upon her traumatic separation from

Chad Lowe

. She went to the land of the

Buddha

, who began as a know-nothing, selfish prince only to transcend self altogether. Such a wonderful place to begin to go through and beyond the craving, hungry ego. Speaking to Ladies Home Journal, Hilary said, "I just sat with myself and thought, 'What do I need right now?' "

" 'What do I need to do for myself?' "

So much for transcending the ego.

Contact "SideShow" at sideshow@phillynews.com.
This column contains information from Inquirer wire services.