NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Former Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, are separating after 40 years of marriage that included a White House run when their sunny relationship offered a counterpoint to President Bill Clinton’s philandering.

According to an e-mail circulated among the couple’s associates on Tuesday, the Gores said it was “a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration.”

Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider confirmed the statement came from the Gores, but declined to comment further.

The Gores were telling friends they “grew apart” after 40 years of marriage and there was no affair involved, according to two longtime close associates and family friends.

The associates said the Gores, over time, had carved out separate lives, with the former vice president on the road frequently.

Al Gore lost the 2000 presidential election to Republican George W. Bush. He has since campaigned worldwide to draw attention to climate change, which in 2007 led to a Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar for the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

The couple famously exchanged a long kiss during the 2000 Democratic presidential convention.

 

Star acts as star witness against accused burglar 

NEW YORK – It was witness stand, the sequel, for Kirsten Dunst.

The “Spider-Man” star reprised her role Tuesday as a star witness against a mechanic being tried — for the second time — on charges of helping steal her designer purse from a Manhattan hotel suite during a 2007 movie shoot.

The actress gave jurors a clipped, subdued account of returning from filming to find her $2,000 Balenciaga handbag gone from a SoHo Grand Hotel penthouse suite.

Her assistant’s bag and co-star Simon Pegg’s cell phone and other possessions also were taken from the room, which was being used as an actors’ lounge while the 2008 comedy “How to Lose Friends & Alienate People” was shot downstairs.

“All our belongings were gone everything was gone,” Dunst testified. Inside the bag were her wallet, cards, vintage Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses and $2,000 in cash, she said.

The mechanic, James Jimenez, was convicted last fall of trespassing, but jurors deadlocked on a more serious burglary charge. He’s being retried.

 

Cast to celebrate ‘Goodfellas’

NEW YORK – Spike TV is bringing together Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the mob classic “Goodfellas.”

The two stars will be at Spike’s fourth annual “Guy’s Choice” awards, to be televised June 20.

Event producer Casey Patterson says “Goodfellas” is considered a touchstone for Spike’s target audience of 18- to 34-year-old men. Spike is working on getting cast member Joe Pesci to attend.

 

Blagojevich will proclaim innocence from stand

CHICAGO – Rod Blagojevich has traveled the talk show circuit for months, telling anyone who would listen that he’s innocent of federal charges that he conspired to profit from his power as governor of Illinois to fill President Obama’s former Senate seat.

Now the impeached former governor and his lawyers are finally going to plead their case to a federal court jury in one of the biggest such trials in the annals of this corruption-battered state. At the trial, which begins Thursday, Blagojevich plans to take the stand himself and tell the tale again — but this time, planting enough doubt to overcome the evidence against him could be a tough sell.

Federal prosecutors have 500 hours of secretly made FBI wiretap tapes in which they say Blagojevich is plainly heard saying that he wants something in return for the Senate seat.