NEWS BRIEFS: Jessica Simpson Lands Pilot

02/13/2004 at 11:00 AM EST

CAST: If you can't get enough of Jessica Simpson, you may have a chance to see more of her next fall. ABC has picked up a TV pilot featuring the "Is this tuna ... or fish" singer-actress. The 23-year-old Simpson will play reporter Jessica Sampson, a fictional version of herself, in the unnamed pilot about a TV newsmagazine, says the Hollywood Reporter. Whether the pilot is developed into a recurring show remains to be seen, but there's no doubt about Simpson's popularity. She's currently appearing in the second season of MTV's reality series "Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica," with husband Nick Lachey, and she also recently signed on for her first feature film, "Walk On," due out next year.

DENIED: Michael Jackson's music manager is denying reports this week that the troubled pop star is having money problems. Countering a story in The New York Times about Jackson's withering finances, Charles Koppelman tells the Associated Press, "Michael is an individual who has the ability to generate huge sums of money," but Koppelman gives no further explanation. A hearing for Jackson's child-molestation case will take place Friday, but Jackson is not expected to attend.


QUOTED: "Like other celebrity couples, their Hollywood romance has come to an end." -- Russell Arons, vice president of marketing for Mattel, announcing the "breakup" after 43 years of the company's popular Barbie and Ken dolls, AP reports


SERVED: Diana Ross, who was sentenced to two days of jail on Monday for her guilty plea in a 2002 drunk-driving case in Arizona, has apparently completed her time -- in Greenwich, Conn., AP reports. "That obligation was fulfilled here," Greenwich Police Chief James Walters said.

DISPUTED: Despite a paternity test that cleared Latin singer Marc Anthony as the father of a Miami waitress's 2-month-old son, the mother's attorney is claiming Anthony might still be responsible, Reuters reports. Elizabeth Leyva's lawyer says that Anthony, 35, did not follow the correct procedure for submitting the DNA that was tested. "Our client is 100 percent confident that he is the father," her attorney said. The allegations caused Anthony's wife to file for divorce. Through his lawyer, Anthony has demanded Leyva stop her allegations.

SUPPORTED: Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott are among the new spokespeople for MAC cosmetics' Viva Glam products, according to published reports. Proceeds from Viva Glam V Lipstick will benefit the MAC AIDS Fund, the cosmetic maker says. Aguilera and Elliott are joined by actress Chloe Sevigny and former "Taboo" star Boy George.

JOINED: As if he was not busy enough already, "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest has officially agreed to join Los Angeles's KIIS morning radio program, replacing long-time disc jockey Rick Dees. Seacrest, 29, already has a full schedule. In addition to his duties as "AI" host, Seacrest has taken over for DJ Casey Kasem on the "American Top 40" radio show, and he hosts his own TV talk show "On-Air With Ryan Seacrest." The KIIS show will be called "On-Air With Ryan Seacrest," as well.

REVISITED: Turns out the future was in cars, as much as in plastic. Actor Dustin Hoffman is updating his role in the 1967 film "The Graduate" for the German automaker Audi, AP reports. In the film, Hoffman pulls Mrs. Robinson's daughter from the church as she is about to be married, and the pair leave on a bus. In the ad, Hoffman, 66, rushes to a church to stop his daughter's wedding, after which they leave in a 2005 Audi. The commercial, which will only air in Europe, is only the second that Hoffman has made.

CONVICTED: Shandi Sullivan, star of UPN's "America's Next Top Model," has not always offered a paradigm of good behavior, The Smoking Gun Web site reports. Documents posted on the site reveal that the 21-year-old finalist on the show was arrested and charged with burglary of a Kansas City, Miss., candy store in 2001. Sullivan pleaded guilty to the theft and received two year's probation.

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