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The pseudo-improvised reality series The Hills, as it plays out beyond MTV, on celebrity gossip covers and in nearly every other byway of the modern media, is above all a vicious decimator of hope. It mocks our hearts; it plays with our allegiances, and we welcome the abuse, the New York Times observes.

In its third season, which picks up tonight at 10 p.m., The Hills, set among young aspirants of the Hollywood Hills' music and fashion industries, has continued to track the emotional warfare between former best friends Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag, while delving more deeply into the twistedness and superficiality of the boyfriends who ensure that the tortured rivals treat each other like Crips and Bloods.

A Trophy Wife

Lauren Conrad and the rest of The Hills cast return at 10 p.m. tonight.

Defying our expectations, Heidi has emerged as a kind of feminist hero this season, climbing her way to a bigger position at the event-planning company where she orchestrates Nascar parties and the like, and refusing to acquiesce to the demands of her fiancé, Spencer Pratt, that she get herself home on time.

Her career-mindedness sets their relationship off course.

The 21-year-old Heidi Montag identifies the problem with no name: a boyfriend who sits around an apartment decorated to look like an '80s video arcade while trying to deny Heidi a real wedding with the glory of registering.

As you recall, her groundswell of self-assertion begins when Spencer Pratt insisted on eloping, prompting Heidi to, like, boldly declare:

"This isn't, like, Spencer's relationship and you decide what we do."

The full-on joyous Oprah-fication of Heidi Montag culminates with the show's return and gives The Hills a new momentum.

Continue Reading...

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That didn't take long.

Rejected American Idol hopeful David Hernandez has come to the Big Apple to audition for the cast of Broadway's "Rent."

Guess that beats stripping for a living.

Celebrity news site TMZ spotted David on his way into town, and when pressed about his tryout, all he said was he was auditioning for a show called "Lease."

"Lease" ... "Rent" ... Hmm ... What's David Hernandez telling us?

Hernandez also seemed bewildered by the big city, asking random strangers for help finding a car and asking a Hasidic Jew if he was a "Pilgrim."

When contacted for comment, "Rent" had none, but the Broadway production ends its 12-year run on June 1. Hopefully David can get on before then.

Hernandez was the first of the 12 finalists ousted from the Fox reality show this season, in what some pundits believe was a conspiracy.

The remaining 10 American Idol contestants go at it again tomorrow.

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Who's on the rise, who's stock is falling faster than a subprime mortgage lender's and who (cough, Kristy Lee Cook) will defy the odds and simply not go away?

It's time, once again, for our American Idol Power Poll!

His Final Song

Feel free to write in and voice your thoughts on our rankings. We welcome all comments as we're just fans like you. Here's how we see it right now ...

1. David Archuleta: Back on top of the poll after a solid rendition of "The Long and Winding Road." Most American Idol hopefuls suffered through the latest Beatles Week, but David Archuleta thrived a week after his toughest outing.

2. David Cook: Dark horse rocker may no longer be a dark horse - he's rising too high in opinion polls! He has a serious shot at capturing the title, we think.

David Archuleta (#1 in our poll) and Carly Smithson (#4) are in the hunt.

3. Brooke White: She was a bit uncomfortable away from the piano, but still the best of the ladies in the hunt to become the next American Idol so far.

4. Carly Smithson. Despite the controversy surrounding her background, Carly Smithson has been solid so far - one of the few consistent performers among the entire bunch, in fact - and we expect her to make the top five at least.

5. Michael Johns. Tough week last week, and that's putting it mildly. Still, we like his chances and expect a rebound from Johns tomorrow night.

On the bubble: Jason Castro, Ramiele Malubay, Syesha Mercado

On the block: Kristy Lee Cook, Chikezie

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Last week was certainly a banner week for shocking photos of nude celebrities - but even after those events, we didn't see this latest one coming.

To celebrate her 50th birthday, Jamie Lee Curtis has ditched her bathing suit in favor of her birthday suit â€" at least partially. She looks good, too.

It's true, people. The cover of the new issue of AARP The Magazine shows Jamie Lee Curtis topless, standing up to her chest in a swimming pool.

"If I can challenge the old ideas about aging, I will feel more and more invigorated," Curtis said in an interview for the May/June issue.

This isn't the first time that Jamie Lee Curtis has "dared to bare" to challenge Hollywood's traditional definition of beauty.

In 2002, she posed for More magazine in only her underwear and bra, sans any sort of makeup, stylists and flattering camera angles or lenses.

The resulting photos showed a nearly-nude Jamie Lee Curtis as middle-aged mom, not glamour queen â€" complete with sagging belly and chunky thighs.

Basically, they resembled Britney Spears photos, circa 2006-present. Not that we are complaining - we prefer a few more pounds to waifs like Kate Bosworth.

This from a woman known for a bodacious body and starring roles in movies like Trading Places, A Fish Called Wanda and Halloween.

"Much of the shoot was Jamie Lee Curtis' idea â€" she became very involved in the creative concept," AARP The Magazine deputy editor Nancy Graham said. "It is certainly groundbreaking for us, and for women of this age."

"We're thrilled to have such a known Hollywood icon embrace her age and show everyone it's OK to be comfortable in your own skin."

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Just when you thought she might crawl back under the slimy rock from whence she came, Heather Mills' divorce battle with Paul McCartney may erupt again.

The legendary gold digger plans to return to court in a bid to get the gag order lifted on her case, according to the UK's Daily Star.

Heather Mills' Bad Hair

If she succeeds, Mills, dubbed Mucca because of her porn past, will make millions in media deals, on top of the tens of millions in gold she's already dug.

She was evidently left reeling by Mr. Justice Bennett's judgment last week, in which he branded her a "fantasist" who "wholly exaggerated" the extent of her personal wealth before she met Sir Paul McCartney, 65.

Heather Mills' lawyer yesterday described the judge's 58-page verdict as a "prolonged hanging" which led to her suffering "blanket vilification."

Solicitor David Rosen revealed: "Heather is frustrated... She feels it is very unfair that the judgment should be printed in full when she cannot defend herself. She's planning to apply to lift the ban. It was damning enough that the judge made his judgment so clear and vividly ... no-one deserves that. It's like a prolonged hanging."

Allow us a brief pause in which we cry Heather Mills a frickin' river.

Beyond what the judge chose to disclose to the press, the hearings were covered by a confidentiality agreement, enforced by a court order. That means neither party is allowed to elaborate on what was said in the case.

But the upcoming Miss USA judge argues that now the judge has lifted the lid on some details, she wants to be able to put all her side of the exchanges.

She wants every word that was said during the nine days in the court made public. And she wants to be free to say what she wants about it.

A source said last night: "If she succeeds, her interviews will make amazing viewing and Sir Paul had better take cover."

So, expect a deluge of Heather Mills naked pics then?

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Jason Rae, musician husband of singer Corinne Bailey Rae, has been discovered dead from a suspected drug overdose, numerous reports have said.

The body of Jason Rae was discovered in a flat in Leeds, England, on Saturday. The 32-year-old was a saxophonist with the Haggis Horns.

A post mortem examination on Rae carried out proved inconclusive. Police said they were awaiting the results of toxicology reports.

Officers investigating the surprise death of Jason Rae say that they have arrested a 32-year-old man on suspicion of supplying controlled drugs.

He has been released on bail pending further inquiries, West Yorkshire Police have said. More details on this story as it develops.

Corinne Bailey Rae (left) received critical acclaim for her self-titled album in 2006, which featured the hit single "Put Your Records On."

Jason Rae's own group, the Haggis Horns, performed with Corinne Bailey Rae and other acts in the UK, as well as on their own in recent years.

The group had performed with the acclaimed R&B/soul singer Amy Winehouse, as well as producer Mark Ronson and Nightmares On Wax.

The band describes itself as "an eight-piece live funk extravaganza" who combine funk, soul, hip-hop and afrobeat with jazz virtuosity.

They released their debut album, Hot Damn!, last September.

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Well, about half of it anyway. Which is pretty solid.

One young voter who has been squarely in the camp of Hillary Rodham Clinton throughout the 2008 presidential race is Ugly Betty star America Ferrera, 23.

What's Up Hillary?

The actress, a native Californian of Honduran descent, has been a vocal supporter of the former First Lady and attended a seminar called Breaking Barriers: Women in Politics at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Saturday.

The Ugly Betty star, who also attended two other campaign events Saturday, was seen travelling in New York with boyfriend Ryan Piers Williams on Friday.

Hillary Clinton narrowly trails Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in the tight race for the Democratic presidential nomination - and celebrity endorsements - but is closing the gap in both departments. The Pennsylvania primary is April 22.

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The Hills' Lauren Conrad is famous for being on reality TV. But what she really wants is to run a merchandising empire.

MTV's highest-rated program last fall, The Hills' cameras have captured her days as a fashion-magazine intern (Teen Vogue) and nights as a club-hopper who flirts with guys and spars with friends (and frenemies). How we love it so.

In an effort to translate her fame into a legit fashion career, she and her father, Jim Conrad, have assembled a team of Hollywood-industry advisers and signed several licensing and endorsement deals, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The process isn't always smooth.

The network that made her famous won't promote her enterprises on air. And Lauren Conrad, determined to assert her fashion vision, sometimes ignores the suggestions of her more seasoned advisers.

"I'm sure a lot of people don't take me seriously," she says.

Many young celebrities are trying to emulate the success of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who parlayed roles on TV sitcom Full House into a multimillion-dollar conglomerate that has sold books, videos, films and clothes.

Lauren Conrad represents the next generation of branding - reality stars famous only for their willingness to let cameras into their private lives.

Last week, Ms. Conrad's nemesis on The Hills, Heidi Montag, announced her own plans to launch a clothing line. It will be known as Heidiwood.

And from E! reality show Sunset Tan, tanning-salon owners Devin Haman and Jeff Bozz recently came out with a line of tanning moisturizers.

To keep themselves in the spotlight, Lauren Conrad and her reality TV contemporaries are willing citizens of a celebrity gossip world.

During a recent breakfast interview at an outdoor café in Los Angeles, Conrad said she suspected a celebrity news photographer was taking pictures of her from across the street. She declined to move to an inside table.

Instead, she looked left and right before taking quick bites of her egg whites. "No one eats pretty," she said.

Continue reading in the Wall Street Journal ...

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Most of the time these days, he's best known as a doting father to Sean Preston and Jayden James. And his other kids Kaleb and Kori.

But on Friday night, Britney Spears' ex-husband took a break from parenting to ring in his 30th birthday at Pure Nightclub in Las Vegas.

Also known as Kevin Federline's home away from home.

A dapper-looking Federline - the subject of this week's Caption Contest at The Hollywood Gossip - said he felt "great" about turning 30.

Flanked by a group of 20 pals, including his family members and attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan, Federline headed straight to his VIP table.

Also on hand? Ex-girlfriend and baby mama Shar Jackson!

K-Fed: A year older, not necessarily wiser.

Throughout the evening, K-Fed and his entourage sang along to tunes by Jay-Z, Kanye West and other hip-hop artists.

At one point, the DJs played Federline's own song "Lose Control," familiar to the club considering its music video was shot there in 2006.

Close to midnight, Kevin Federline danced on a couch by his table and held up a California license plate saying "FDRLINE" while drinking Jack Daniel's.

Later on, the FedEx man grabbed the mic for a rambling profanity-laced speech in which he encouraged everyone to have "a good time."

"I lost my voice at the craps tables and I lost all my money," he went on to say in a raspy voice, before a friend dragged him away.

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Pamela Anderson isn't the only one claiming fraud in her (most recent) brief marriage. Estranged husband Rick Salomon is making the same allegation.

A month after Pamela Anderson sought an annulment rather than a divorce, Rick Salomon also filed papers to annul the two-month union.

Pamela Anderson, Damian Whitewood Picture

Like Anderson, the jackass checked the box marked "fraud" as the reason for the annulment, say the Superior Court documents filed Friday.

Neither has explained why the fraud allegation is being made.

After just two months of marriage, Pamela Anderson, 40, filed for divorce from Rick Salomon, 39, in December, citing irreconcilable differences.

Absolutely no one saw that coming.

They were married last October in Las Vegas during a 90-minute break between the magic shows in which Anderson was appearing. Really.

Salomon, of course, is probably most famous for starring in the Paris Hilton sex tape. He's an extremely classy fellow.

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