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When Paris Hilton
strutted down a Vegas runway April 15 for the launch of her sister Nicky's fashion line, it wasn't her Simple Life costar Nicole Richie
at her side but her equally blonde pal Kimberly Stewart. And Paris wasn't shy about hinting that it may be a preview of things to come. "Kim is hysterical and crazy fun, and I love that about her," said Hilton, 24, admitting that she has been lobbying to make Stewart her new sidekick on the reality series. "Nicole and I have been best friends since we were babies, and I love her, but I want to do what's best for the show."
So is it goodbye Nicole, hello Kimberly? FOX says no decision has been made. But one thing is certain: The friendship between Hilton and Richie isn't what it used to be. "I knew months ago they weren't getting along," says a source close to both. "They really hate each other."
A source close to Paris says Richie is jealous of the media attention her costar receives and resents being left out of things like Hilton's Feb. 5 hosting gig on Saturday Night Live
. In fact, says the source, Richie tried to get even for that perceived slight by throwing a party to celebrate the SNL
stint and then screening Paris's infamous 2003 sex video instead. "Paris was very hurt," says the source. "She loves Nicole but believes she is owed an apology." (Reps for Richie deny the incident.) Meanwhile Richie's friends say tensions arose because Nicole has grown out of her wild ways, quitting drinking and spending more time with her fiancé, Adam Goldstein. "She just wants to be with Adam and get married," says one. In the end the only thing that seems indisputable is that with The Simple Life
no longer so simple, both women are moving on. Richie is reportedly shopping a Newlyweds-style series to MTV, while Hilton is promoting her role in the movie House of Wax and waiting to hear if FOX will hire Stewart. And, according to the source close to Hilton, with their onscreen duo a bust, a reconciliation seems unlikely any time soon. "Nicole sees [the show] as a business that's separate from the personal," says the source, "but Paris doesn't separate the two."