HITCHING POST Guess Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey really do find each other irresistible. After three years of on-and-off dating, the pop princess and the 98 Degrees singer have announced their engagement. Teen pop’s best-known self-proclaimed celibate couple this side of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, Simpson and Lachey endured a public break-up last spring, with Simpson claiming she needed more time to focus on her career. But the split was short-lived, with the couple soon reportedly buying his-and-hers condos in a Los Angeles high rise. Simpson, 21, says that Lachey, 28, popped the question on Feb. 10, ”on a beautiful yacht in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii.” No word on when the pair will wed. Also no word on what Lachey’s boy band refers to on its website as its ”unclear” future, noting that ”the group is taking an extended break. They have no immediate plans to record or tour.”…
Joan Collins walked down the aisle for the fifth time Sunday to marry a man two years younger than her oldest daughter. The 68-year-old actress married Percy Gibson, a 36-year-old theater manager she met last year during a U.S. touring production of ”Love Letters.” He helped her edit her new novel, ”Star Quality,” and the pair became engaged in December. Among the 175 guests at the ceremony at London’s Claridge’s Hotel were such fellow veterans of the swinging-London era as Michael Caine, Roger Moore, and Shirley Bassey, as well as younger folk like Rupert Everett. (Her sister, Jackie Collins, wasn’t there, pleading that she was too close to deadline on her next novel, but she threw a party in Joan’s honor in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago.) The bride wore a full-length, lilac silk gown designed by Nolan Miller, the shoulder-pad-loving designer who costumed her 20 years ago on ”Dynasty.” Said her spokeswoman, ”It was a very emotional ceremony. They exchanged traditional vows. We all cried, including Joan.”
REEL DEALS Britney Spears may have lost her (on-screen) virginity in a discreet, PG-13 way, but the ”Crossroads” footage left on the cutting-room floor was reportedly not that innocent. All three stars, including Spears, Taryn Manning, and Zoe Saldana, allegedly went topless during a scene where the three young women celebrated their karaoke victory in New Orleans. Manning told Launch.com, ”You know the writer, Shonda [Rhimes])? She said, ‘What’s something crazy that you would do with your friends?’ you know, and we’re, like, ‘Oh, flash people.’ But we got to write that scene in, but it got cut. We flashed, like, when we were at the hotel celebrating, you know? These girls start drinking too much, so we end up going down the hall and flashing a couple doors, but it didn’t make it in the movie.” No doubt it will make it onto the Internet any day now.
Meanwhile, the New York Post reports that Kim Cattrall, after playing Spears’ mother In ”Crossroads,” invited Spears to play her niece in an upcoming ”Sex and the City” episode. She’ll play a seemingly virginal young woman who proves to be competition for Cattrall’s Samantha and steals away Samantha’s lover. No word on how much more mileage Spears expects to get out of the ”I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” routine.
TUBE TALK Has Rosie O’Donnell’s coming-out party reignited the rivalry between ABC newswomen Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters? Sawyer got the ”get,” landing an interview with O’Donnell for ”Prime Time Live” that will air March 14. In a story about a Florida law banning adoption by gay parents, O’Donnell reportedly tells Sawyer that she has supported efforts to overturn the law, saying, ”[I] care about this because I am a gay parent.”
But on Thursday, the day Sawyer taped her interview with O’Donnell, Walters spilled the beans on ”The View,” saying she had just spoken to O’Donnell by phone, and announced that O’Donnell was planning to go public about her sexuality because she had wanted to adopt a Florida girl, but ”because she is gay, [Rosie] would not be allowed to adopt this child [in Florida].”