NEWSMAKERS: Leo’s Paradise Lost

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 9, 2000 — So he got to shoot on an island off Thailand for months, flying friends in for visits and soaking up an island paradise. But Leonardo DiCaprio, star of “The Beach,” has one little quibble.

Says Leo to the British magazine The Face, “It truly bothered me … that [Richard, DiCaprio‘s character] never had any kind of sexual contact with Francoise,” a stunning Frenchwoman played by Virginie Ledoyen, with whom he does a little smooching and frolicking in the surf.

“The constant foreplay between the two characters never amounted to anything,” the 25-year-old DiCaprio says. “And I really wanted something, whether it be complete and utter rejection or some sort of wild sexual encounter. … It just had to happen.” Well, it just goes to show that even the King of the World can’t have it all.

SCANDAL SHEET: Vanity Fair’s 13-page article this month has revived controversy over Natalie Wood‘s mysterious 1981 drowning by suggesting that she and husband Robert Wagner argued on the night of her death.

The story, written by Sam Kashner, says previously unpublished police records appear to contradict statements that there was no fight between Wood and Wagner that night. The report features a new interview with Christopher Walken, who says he and the couple had been drinking on the night of Nov. 28, 1981, and had a conversation in which “you put all your cards on the table.” The confessionals snowballed into a marital argument, and Walken “stepped outside for some air” and when he returned, everyone was apologizing and everything seemed fine. Wagner says it was a political discussion.

Wood, 43, was found drowned wearing a nightgown, socks and a jacket after apparently trying to leave her yacht off Catalina Island in California to board an inflatable dinghy. Her death was ruled an accident.

DAS FESTIVAL: In Germany, the 50th Berlin Film Festival kicked off today with a screening of “The Million Dollar Hotel,” starring Mel Gibson and Jeremy Davies and co-written by U2 frontman Bono.

In the fest’s coming days, French actress Jeanne Moreau, who recently did a diva walk-off during a planned guest appearance on “ER,” will receive a special homage, as will Robert De Niro.

Other stars to raid Berlin: George Clooney and Ice Cube, on hand to promote “Three Kings” and the aforementioned Leo, a possible for “The Beach.”

HONORS: Legendary writer/director Billy Wilder, who fled Nazi Europe in the 1930s for France (and later the United States), will receive the Federal Republic of Germany’s Knight Commander’s Cross (badge and star) on March 10. The 93-year-old Wilder is also to be honored by the Producers Guild on March 2 at Los Angeles’ Century Plaza on the occasion of his “Some Like it Hot” joining the guild’s landmark movie list …

Blake Edwards will receive the Art Directors Guild’s Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award on Feb. 26 at the Beverly Hilton. The 77-year-old director-writer-producer, who is married to Julie Andrews, is the director of films such as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Days of Wine and Roses” and eight “Pink Panther” movies …

… The U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, running today through Sunday in Aspen, Colo., will honor funnyman Robin Williams with its American Film Institute Star Award. Also on the docket: Baltimore-loving director Barry Levinson receiving the AFI Filmmaker Award and career tributes for Jerry Lewis, Mike Nichols and Elaine May.

QUICK TAKES: Martin Lawrence‘s cop comedy “Big Momma’s House” is getting an early move-in date, says The Hollywood Reporter. Twentieth Century Fox is moving the film’s release up from October to June 2. It was originally moved to fall after Lawrence was hospitalized Aug. 22 from heat stroke after jogging under heavy clothing in 100 degree heat. He fell into a coma but emerged after three days and began production on the film …

James Coburn will join the ranks of presenters at this year’s Academy Awards on March 26 at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium. Coburn won a Best Supporting Actor statue last year for “Affliction,” and, as tradition dictates, will likely present this year’s Best Supporting Actress award …

… And if you turn to the Grammys this year, you’ll see the following artists perform (no, not together): The Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill, Whitney Houston, Kid Rock, Britney Spears, Santana, the Backstreet Boys, TLC and Ricky Martin. The Grammys air Feb. 23 on CBS.

LOVE LINES: In honor of the upcoming Valentine’s Day, we give you the skinny on how to kiss Woody Allen — straight from the lips of his “Mighty Aphrodite” co-star, Helena Bonham Carter.

“He tells you up front certain ways of kissing, he does not want,” Bonham Carter tells the UK Sun. “No exchange of liquid is permitted.”

As if that weren’t enough info, Bonham Carter adds: “There’s absolutely no tongue encounter. … It can be a bit offensive because he makes no effort at all. But he does warn you, and says everyone gets the same treatment. His mouth is a no-go area. It’s like kissing the Berlin Wall, really.”

Somebody get the Listerine.