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Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony kept divorce plan secret, but a few knew

Jennifer Lopez brought Marc Anthony Grammys February but lately she’d been going events with other guests. | LARRy Busacca~Getty Images

Jennifer Lopez brought Marc Anthony to the Grammys in February, but lately she’d been going to events with other guests. | LARRy Busacca~Getty Images

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Updated: July 18, 2011 10:44AM

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony’s surprise announcement Friday — that they were splitting — caught off-guard even some of the couple’s very close friends and associates.

However, a longtime J. Lo pal told me Sunday, “I know Marc’s short fuse and explosive temper has been an issue. I’ve always thought Jennifer had learned to deal with that.

“After all, it’s not like she’s not one to handle herself in big verbal battle,” added the friend. “She can let loose herself. … I’ve seen her launch some pretty strong screaming matches!”

That said, only a tiny handle of folks — in Lopez and Anthony’s very tight inner circle — were aware of the couple’s decision to end their marriage after seven years and the birth of their twins Max and Emme, now age 3. While there were hints — Lopez attending the Prince William and Duchess Katherine gala July 9 with her mom as her date and a July 4 party with only her kids — no one picked up on it.

“That’s not surprising. … Their separate careers often prevented them from attending social affairs together,” said an “American Idol” staffer who has come to know Lopez well.

† Speaking of work, I’ve been told by a reliable source close to both artists they will continue to work together on “Q’Viva! The Chosen,” the competition show seeking undiscovered talent across Latin America. While the show has yet to be sold to a network — or even begin filming — reports the couple “will work on it as planned.”

As for “Idol,” while E! News and other outlets have reported that Lopez has a deal in place to return for the hit series’ 11th season, there has yet to be an official announcement that she’ll rejoin fellow judges Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler — who both have confirmed they will be back for the new season.

† While rumors already are flying about a new Lopez romance — with telenovela star William Levy, with whom she filmed that very sexy video for her “I’m Into You” single — a key member of Team Lopez told me Sunday not “to jump to any conclusion. … I think this is just about a marriage falling apart for other reasons after seven years.”

However, when I asked if it was just a coincidence that Levy and his wife, Mexican actress Elizabeth Gutierrez, also had just separated, my source said, “I really can’t comment on that.”

BABY BEAT: Congrats to real estate queen Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner on the arrival of their first child.

Trump gave birth Sunday morning, and almost immediately tweeted, “This morning [Jared] and I welcomed a beautiful and healthy baby girl into the world…We feel incredibly grateful and blessed.”

The “Apprentice” mainstay and Kushner were married in October 2009.

QUITE A MILESTONE! A large collection of industrialist Fred Gohl’s good friends gathered for the heartwarming, elegant fete his wife Susan hosted Saturday night at the Ritz-Carlton — a terrific toast to Fred’s 95th birthday.

In his invocation, Msgr. Ken Velo had the crowd chuckling when he quipped, “I imagine when Fred’s mother gave birth — on that summer day in 1916 — she must have thought, ‘My, it’s been eight years since the Cubs won the World Series!’ ”

TUNE TIMES: Chicago jazz singing fave Spider Saloff is just back from Down Under, where she performed her one-woman musical, “The Roar of the Butterfly” in Melbourne, Australia.

Saloff will perform the show at the Celebration Theatre in West Hollywood in August, with hopes to bring it to Chicago for a longer run.

† Our Town’s cabaret mainstays Nan Mason and Terry Higgins will be back at the Drake Hotel on Saturday (plus July 29, Aug. 13 and Aug. 27).

† The “Monday Night Live” cabaret-style, “open mike” program at Petterino’s on July 25 — hosted by Denise McGowan Tracy and Beckie Menzie — will showcase select cast members from “West Side Story,” coming to the Cadillac Palace through Aug. 14.

SEEN ON THE SCENE: While Matthew Lewis made the rounds here Friday — boosting his eighth and final outing as Neville Longbottom in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” — the actor made a late-night stop at Hub 51 and nearby Studio Paris. … Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, who grew up in Park Forest, was spied enjoying drinks with fans at the Original Mother’s. … Chicago-bred ex-NBA player (and current Comcast SportsNet analyst) Kendall Gill was seen dining at Holy Mackerel! in Lombard. … Miller Beer’s popular man-about-town Fritzy Konstantelos hosted Richard Dent at Gene & Georgetti’s — toasting the Bear great’s upcoming Aug. 8 induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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