+ He may be taking a breather from touring and performing, but Justin Timberlake continues to diversify his already ridiculously long résumé. In addition to the recently announced NBC show My Problem With Women (for which Timberlake, in a collaboration with Reveille, serves as an executive producer) and upcoming movie roles in The Love Guru and The Open Road, the singer is also rumored to be hosting this summer’s ESPY Awards. But his music-production skills remain in high demand: Timberlake worked in London with Madonna, co-writing and co-producing five tracks on her new album, Hard Candy (out April 29). He was also spotted last week in the Austin recording studio of Spoon’s Jim Eno, where he and co-producer Charlie Sexton were wrapping up sessions with noted songwriter Matt Morris, one of the first artists signed to Timberlake’s own Tennman Records. ”He’s kind of like Ray LaMontagne meets Elton John meets Stevie Wonder meets Rufus Wainwright,” Timberlake told us last year. ”It’s time for the birth of the hybrid artist. I’m anxious to create an artist that the press has trouble labeling.” Next up: world domination.
+ One’s an R&B balladeer, the other’s an emo wailer — and now Ne-Yo and Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump exclusively tell HI they’ve recorded a duet. ”We’re trying to figure out if the world is ready for those two [genres] to come together,” says Ne-Yo, who hopes to include ”Finish Your Food,” a bizarre breakup tale, on his upcoming CD, Year of the Gentleman. Adds Stump: ”Hopefully that sees the light of day. I love the sound of our voices together.” — Shirley Halperin and Simon Vozick-Levinson
+ Wondering how the strike affected fake Hollywood? It’ll delay the debut of Entourage’s fifth season until September, and the HBO comedy may deliver 12 episodes instead of 14 — though creator Doug Ellin says he’s ”writing as fast as I can” to reach 14. This season, which starts shooting in late April, will pick up with the fallout from Cannes, where Vince’s Medellin tanked. ”The group dynamic is changing,” hints Ellin. ”Eric [Kevin Connolly] is finding success on his own, grabbing other clients, and Vince [Adrian Grenier] is suddenly having a hard time.” The boys trek to Mexico and Joshua Tree National Park, where they’ll ”eat some psychedelic mushrooms and try to find themselves. It’s one of my favorite episodes. It’s their Into the Wild trip.” With a happier ending, we presume. — Dan Snierson
+ Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are in negotiations to play the leads in Fox Searchlight’s romantic comedy 500 Days of Summer, sources say. Gordon-Levitt, who will next be seen in Paramount’s Iraq-war drama Stop-Loss (out March 28), will play a guy who falls in love with a girl (Deschanel, soon to appear in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening) who doesn’t believe in love. Acclaimed music-video director Marc Webb will make his feature directorial debut from a script by Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter (The Pink Panther 2). The movie is expected to begin filming this spring. — Nicole Sperling