Let's Get This Party Started: Top Stories for 07/21/06

7/21/2006 9:14 AM PDT

Let's Get This Party Started: Top Stories for 07/21/06

Did Jessica skip out on her own little sister's big performance in New York on Wednesday night to avoid bumping into her ex-hubby's new girlfriend?

After exclaiming how excited she was to see Ashlee perform earlier in the day, she was a very big no-show later that night – and it might've been because Vanessa Minnillo was planning to swing by.

Ashlee gave a highly hyped-up performance at Manhattan's Pier 54 Wednesday night at a party celebrating Victoria's Secret's Pink line, and Jessica bailed at the last minute, claiming that she "didn't want to steal Ashlee's spotlight," and leaving frustrated reporters and camera crews cooling their heels. According to Page Six, Minnillo, who's dating Nick Lachey and to whom Jessica seems to make a rather pointed reference in her new video, was planning to come but decided against it at the last minute. The two avoided each other on MTV's "TRL" – which Minnillo co-hosts – when Minnillo was given the day off.

In other news of what Jessica Simpson isn't doing, Lloyd Grove reports that the issue of OK! magazine's July 24 issue with Jessica on the cover sold 10% fewer copies than the Vaughniston cover the week before, and 15% fewer than the Britney cover three weeks prior. Given OK!'s reported $1 million deal with Simpson to pose for half a dozen covers, the numbers are bad news for the magazine – and for Jess, whom an "insider" quoted by Grove says has become "a bargain-basement star." Her flack, Rob Shuter, disagrees, noting that his client will be on the cover of Glamour in October.

K-Fed Plans Shock! And Surprise! For First Performance

Kevin Federline says that viewers of the Teen Choice 2006 awards show this year will be "shocked" and "surprised" by his performance of his new single "Lose Control" on the show, his first ever and perhaps the most eagerly, er, anticipated by an entirely new artist in the history of entertainment.

K-Fed tells USA Today that Britney will be there, and that he needs and wants her support for his big night. "If she's feeling under the weather because of the baby, obviously she won't be able to be there. But she'll want to be there for me."

He adds that he and Britney – despite her gravid state – have already completed three duets in the studio, and that he's chosen one to be on his album, which will be called "Playing With Fire."

Post-Star Glow Fading At "The View"

Ratings for ABC's gabfest "The View" have simmered down a bit after their massive spike following the firing of Star Jones three weeks ago. The numbers for the week of July 10, reports the New York Post, were more in line with its normal viewership – though its teen girl audience doubled, due in large part to summer vacation.

But in its first week post-Jones, the show tied for fourth overall in the daytime category, which was its best showing since its 1997 premiere, in the women 18-49 years old demographic, the real sweet spot for networks. 980,000 of those viewers watched during the first week after Star got canned, while 748,000 tuned in the next week. No doubt the audience will be huge next Tuesday, when Debbie Matenopoulos returns to her old seat at the table.

"Biggest" and "Dirtiest" Scandal in Hollywood History Still Not As Big and Dirty As Expected

The investigation in private investigator Anthony Pellicano's alleged wiretapping has yet to provide the sizzle and boom that everyone predicted, says Variety, and most of the predictions of heads rolling and titans falling haven't yet materialized.

There's still plenty of time before the trial begins in October, and Assistant US Attorney Dan Saunders has said that he was planning to bring more indictments, but none of the 14 people who have been indicted or have plead guilty thus far are major players.

Variety notes that the major newspapers, especially the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times have assigned multiple reporters to the case, and that the New Yorker's Ken Auletta has even weighed in with rare access to lawyer Bert Fields and ex-agent Michael Ovitz, but that their exhaustive efforts have yet to uncover that one big scoop.

Paris and Wayne Newton Together? It Could Happen

Former Brat Packer Anthony Michael Hall does not want for casting ambition. He's trying to get Paris Hilton to act in his feature-directing debut, "Life and Death in Las Vegas," he tells Page Six, and says that the lodging heiress would play the daughter of a commune leader, played by George Carlin. Also, he's getting Wayne Newton to portray a "'Donald Trump-Steve Wynn' kind of guy who screws all these people out of their inheritance." Still, says Hall, it's Paris who "will end up with all the money."

Friday Flicks: "Lady" Takes On "Super Ex-," "Monster House," and "Clerks 2"

After two weeks of all pirates, all the time, a slew of new films debut today, including M. Night Shyamalan's "Lady in the Water," the latest kooky confection from M. Night Shyamalan starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Paul Giamatti (right), which is getting decidedly lukewarm response, with Entertainment Weekly calling it "self-absorbed" and even critics who liked it, like the Chicago Sun-Times' Richard Roeper, predict that it'll be on those "10 worst" lists at the end of the year. "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" is getting similarly mixed reviews, with the New York Times calling the Ivan Reitman comedy "shaky." "Monster House" is faring better at critics' hands: the New York Times says that its' "marvelously creepy" and the Los Angeles Times says it "stands out from the crowd." But "Clerks 2" is the early winner by the critics' reckoning, with various writers calling writer-director Kevin Smith "a master," "a dynamo," and "wickedly irreverent." Of course, we all know how important the critics are to box-office success.

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