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People in the News

Eds: Updates with items on Jessica Simpson, Janet Jackson, Viggo Mortensen, blink-182 and Billy Graham. Contains items on Sarah Jessica Parker, Yuuya Yagira, Jacquie Dorrance and Sarah Ferguson.

AP Photo NYET187, NYET188, NYET189, NYET190, NY107, TOK106, NY108

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) – Jessica Simpson says she’s this close to slipping into a pair of Daisy Dukes.

The singer and reality TV star told The Associated Press she’s in the lead to star as Daisy Duke in a movie version of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” which is scheduled to come out sometime next year.

Catherine Bach played the sexy Duke cousin, known for wearing denim micro-shorts, in the TV series that ran from 1979-85. Britney Spears had been among the stars reportedly vying for the movie role, but Simpson, who’s starting a summer tour next month, says she’s the first choice.

“That’s looking very, very good and that will happen after my tour. As of right now, I’m (in) the No. 1 slot for Daisy, so hopefully nothing changes,” she said Wednesday.

If Simpson does get the part, it could be a consolation. This month, ABC passed on her comedy pilot, in which she played a not-too-bright starlet named Jessica Sampson who joins a television news program.

The 23-year-old – whose fame has skyrocketed with the success of the MTV reality series “Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica” – said ABC wanted to recast the show, something she wasn’t willing to do.

“I connected with my cast, and I loved how it turned out, and I think that it could have been successful the way it was,” she said.

In the end, she says it worked out for the best, because with her upcoming tour and movie plans, she didn’t have time for a series. And she’ll still do variety specials with her husband, Nick Lachey; the couple’s variety special in April pulled in strong ratings for ABC.

“Everything works out for a reason and I’m glad there was a compromise,” she said.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during the Super Bowl halftime show may be a lot of things, but it’s apparently not worth $5,000.

A judge didn’t buy a Farmington lawyer’s claim that CBS Television owner Viacom should pay him $5,000 for having to see Jackson’s bare breast during the Feb. 1 show. Eric Stephenson had sued Viacom for false advertising in small-claims court.

Stephenson claimed he was led to believe this year’s Super Bowl halftime show would be a family oriented, patriotic celebration.

The father of three children, ages 2, 4 and 6, said pre-game advertising and information in television guides led him to believe he would see marching bands, balloons and a patriotic celebration during the program.

Instead, Stephenson claimed he was exposed to explicit song lyrics, Jackson’s bare breast following a “wardrobe malfunction,” Jackson and her dancers simulating sex acts on stage and what he called singer Kid Rock’s desecration of the American flag by wearing it as a poncho.

Salt Lake City attorney Jeff Hunt, who represented Viacom, says Stephenson complained in the wrong venue.

He should have filed a federal lawsuit or voiced his concerns to the Federal Communications Commission, which already is investigating the halftime show, Hunt said.

Stephenson said he was disappointed with Wednesday’s ruling and hasn’t decided whether he will appeal to district court.

“The real loser here is the consumer,” he said. “Without a victory here it gives advertisers a license to lie and get away with it.”

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – The organizers of Denmark’s annual celebrations of U.S. Independence Day said Thursday that Vigor Mortensen, who played the world-weary Aragorn in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, won’t be the main speaker at this year’s festivities after all.

“Viggo Mortensen sent us a letter saying he could not attend, which unfortunately the Rebild Society didn’t receive in time,” said Lars Hoegh Hansen, secretary general of the association that has organized the annual Rebild festival since 1912.

The event is billed as the biggest Fourth of July party outside the United States.

“Right now we’re working on getting another personality of the same caliber,” Hoegh Hansen told The Associated Press, adding they hope to have the new name by early next week. He declined to name any potential replacement.

On Monday, organizers said the 45-year-old Mortensen, whose father emigrated to the United States, would speak at the annual Rebild festival in northern Denmark. Mortensen’s letter came after the announcement was made to the media.

The other speaker at the event is Etta Cameron, an 84-year-old American-born gospel and jazz singer who lives in the capital, Copenhagen.

Danes and descendants of emigrants have celebrated the U.S. Independence Day with barbecues, square dancing and country music outside Rebild, a village 155 miles northwest of Copenhagen, since 1912.


On the Net:


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – The trio blink-182 went from punk rock to house painting when they helped complete a Habitat for Humanity project.

While drummer Travis Barker sat in a folding chair eating a burrito – he’s on crutches and wearing a cast after foot surgery – guitarist Tom DeLonge and bassist Mark Hoppus applied white paint to the home on 13th Street in Harrisburg.

“I usually paint unicorns and leprechauns,” DeLonge joked in Thursday’s editions of The Patriot-News. “That’s not needed here, but it’s always an option.”

The band’s volunteer work Wednesday was part of Raise The Roof, a partnership between Clear Channel Entertainment and Habitat for Humanity, which provides homes for people in need using volunteers. The band, which spent about 40 minutes at the Habitat site, played a show at the Star Pavilion in nearby Hershey on Wednesday night.

“This program is awesome, really cool,” Hoppus said. “We’re stoked to be a part of it.”

BOONE, N.C. (AP) – The Billy Graham crusades scheduled for Kansas City next month and the Los Angeles area in July will be postponed until autumn, the evangelist’s son said.

The Rev. Franklin Graham said his father needs more time to heal from the pelvic fracture he suffered in a fall at home a week ago.

Arrangements are being made to reschedule the crusades in Arrowhead Stadium and the Rose Bowl for this coming fall, Franklin Graham said Wednesday. Plans also are going forward for a 2005 Billy Graham crusade in New York’s Madison Square Garden, he said.

The 85-year-old Graham, who had surgery last week, is still in pain but is healing, his son said.

At the time of his most recent fall, Graham was recovering from a partial hip replacement performed in January. That procedure was performed after Graham broke his left hip during a fall in a Jacksonville, Fla., hotel room.

In recent years, Graham has been treated for a variety of ailments, including Parkinson’s disease, skin cancer and a sinus condition.

NEW YORK (AP) – Sarah Jessica Parker, who wore designer clothes on HBO’s “Sex and the City” for six seasons, has agreed to represent the Gap in a marketing campaign that will debut in August.

“Gap has always been about individual style, and no one represents this philosophy better than Sarah Jessica Parker,” Gary Muto, president of Gap, said Wednesday in a statement. “She looks as amazing in jeans as she does in couture.”

It’s the first time the Gap will be working with a celebrity on a broader scale than a one-time appearance in a print or TV ad campaign, the company said. As part of the new campaign, Parker also will be featured in a series of TV spots and print ads, both alone and in conjunction with other artists.

Parker played columnist Carrie Bradshaw on “Sex and the City,” which ended this year. Carrie’s mixing and matching of Bohemian, over-the-top sexy, romantic and even prim fashions was mimicked by women all over the country.

TOKYO (AP) – Yuuya Yagira, winner of the best actor prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, missed the awards ceremony because he had more pressing business: exams at his junior high school in Tokyo.

The 14-year-old, who won the award for his role in the Japanese film “Nobody Knows,” received the crystal trophy Wednesday from Hiraokazu Koreeda, the film’s director.

Yagira plays the eldest of four siblings who takes charge of the family when their mother leaves. The film opens in Japan in July.

“It’s my first trophy or award ever. I couldn’t be happier,” Yagira told a news conference. “I want to become a fine actor.”

Asked where he plans to put his trophy, the teen replied: “Can I take it home?”

PHOENIX (AP) – A $3 million gift from the heirs to the Campbell Soup fortune is the single largest donation ever to the Phoenix Art Museum.

The gift from the Dorrance Family Foundation, which the museum announced Tuesday, includes $2 million for the design and construction of a secured outdoor sculpture court.

It also includes a $1 million endowment for education in the form of a matching challenge gift. The foundation said it will match every $100,000 in endowment funds raised by the museum up to $1 million.

Jacquie Dorrance of Paradise Valley said the family was thrilled to help the museum move ahead.

On the Net:


NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. (AP) – Sarah Ferguson, Britain’s Duchess of York, is appearing in a new ad campaign for an abdominal toning belt.

The ads for the Flex abdominal belt began running this week. They’ll continue throughout the year on about a dozen network and cable channels.

Ferguson also will make personal appearances.

“She is the most real and down to earth of the British royals,” said Marshall Masko, vice president of marketing for Compex Technologies, based in suburban Minneapolis. “She’s known as having overcome some obstacles – her weight, her divorce.”

Ferguson was married for 10 years to Prince Andrew, son of Queen Elizabeth. The couple divorced in 1996.

Masko said Ferguson’s contract specifies that her pay not be revealed, but added, “We spent a lot of money, frankly, to get her.”

AP-ES-05-27-04 1434EDT

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