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Blonde Paris Hilton Turns Brunette

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DARKENED: Trademark blonde Paris Hilton has gone brunette – at least temporarily. The hotel heiress and Simple Life star, 23, was photographed en route to Jerry’s Deli in Beverly Hills with brown tresses instead of her trademark platinum blonde. But according to Hilton’s rep, the socialite’s new look was not permanent. “It’s a wig. She just wore a wig,” says her rep, who didn’t know why Paris toned down her hair. Meanwhile, Hilton can also be seen on Wednesday’s episode of South Park as the idol of 4th-grade girls with their very own Paris-style video cameras. Hilton did not participate in the show.

CAST: Murphy Brown star Candice Bergen is making a return to the small screen, Reuters reports. The actress is joining the cast of Boston Legal as one of the legal firm’s partners, Shirley Schmidt. The leap back to television is Bergen’s first regular role since her Emmy-wining turn on Murphy Brown, which went off the air in 1998.

DIED: Passions actor David Bailey died in an accidental drowning on Thanksgiving, producers for the NBC soap opera said Tuesday. He was 71. Bailey played Alistair Crane on the popular daytime drama. “It is with great sadness that we learned of the sudden passing of David Bailey,” executive producer Lisa de Cazotte tells the Associated Press. “He was a man of great compassion and kindness as well as an extraordinary actor.” During his career, Bailey also appeared on Ryan’s Hope and Another World. He is survived by his wife, Yvonne and his son, Xander.

NOMINATED: The wine country comedy Sideways led the IFP Independent Spirit Awards nominations Tuesday, scoring six nominations, including best film, lead actor for Paul Giamatti and director for Alexander Payne. Other films to get multiple nominations include Maria Full of Grace and Kinsey. The winners of the awards, which honor independent films, will be announced in a ceremony on Feb. 26, 2005, the day before the Oscars.

RATED: Desperate Housewives earned its highest ratings to date with its Sunday night episode, in which the character of nosey neighbor Martha Huber (Christine Estabrook) died: Some 27 million viewers, according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research. Already the newest hit of the season, Housewives looks like it will give CBS’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation serious competition to be this season’s top-rated program overall. In its second half-hour, the audience for Housewives peaked at 28.4 million viewers.

RECOVERED: The body of Edward "Teddy" Ebersol, the 14-year-old son of NBC executive Dick Ebersol, was recovered late Monday after a fiery jet crash in Colorado on Sunday that injured Ebersol and another son. The youngster’s body was found underneath the wreckage, authorities said at a press conference, where condolences to the Ebersole family were extended. Dick Ebersol, 57, and his son Charles were hospitalized in stable condition, Mike McCarley, spokesman for NBC Sports, said Monday night.

REFUSED: In a blow to Michael Jackson’s defense, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville refused on Monday to order the teenage boy who accuses the pop star, 46, of molesting him to be examined by a psychiatrist chosen by the star’s lawyers, Reuters reports. Jackson, who has pleaded not guilty to the child molestation charges, did not attend the hearing. The trial is set to begin Jan. 31.

DIVULGED: Elizabeth Taylor, 72, is in good spirits despite suffering from congestive heart failure, her publicist tells the Associated Press. Taylor has revealed she suffers fatigue, shortness of breath, fluid buildup and other symptoms related to her condition, as well as scoliosis that has twisted her spine, resulting in constant pain. “My body’s a real mess,” the famed beauty tells W magazine. “If you look at it in the mirror, it’s just completely convex and concave.” Yet her spokeswoman, Sally Morrison, says the cheerful actress is coping well and recently attended a friend’s birthday party.

SENTENCED: “Guys Do It All the Time” country singer Mindy McCready, who turns 29 on Tuesday, pleaded guilty in a Tennessee court on Monday to purchasing the painkiller OxyContin with a false prescription, AP reports. She was fined $4,000, sentenced to three years of supervised probation and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.

WED: Magician Penn Jillette, 49, married longtime girlfriend, TV producer Emily Zolten, 38, during an impromptu Nov. 23 ceremony at a Las Vegas wedding chapel, his rep said Monday. The couple, after dating for about two years, skipped a honeymoon. “Penn has to get back to work,” spokesman Glenn Alai said.

ANNOUNCED: Washington-based National Public Radio talk-show host Tavis Smiley, 40, said Monday he will be signing off, saying he has tried hard but fallen short of reaching “a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio.” Dec. 16 will be his last day as host of The Tavis Smiley Show, which was launched in January 2002 and offered up such guests as Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton as well as Halle Berry and Bill Maher.

CAST: Lucy Liu has signed to guest star on at least two upcoming episodes of NBC’s Joey, reuniting her with Charlie’s Angels love interest Matt LeBlanc, reports Variety. Liu, 36, will play a tough-talking TV executive producer for the nighttime soap where Joey recently scored a role as the father of one of the show’s main characters. The shows will air in late December or early January.

SCHEDULED: Sting, 53, will tour in April for a streamlined “The Broken Music” tour of North American college campuses, kicking off April 1 at San Jose State University and including stops at the University of Oregon in Eugene, the University of Montana in Missoula and the University of Missouri in Columbia. Other initial stops, with more to be added, include Spokane, Wash., London, Ontario, and Atlantic City. Phantom Planet will be the opening act.

HONORED: Godzilla, 50, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Monday, just before the premiere of his latest screen adventure, Godzilla: Final Wars. “I’m here representing Godzilla. Unfortunately, he cannot speak English,” said the film’s producer, Shogo Tomiyama. In other audioanimatronic news, the fussy duck featured in commercials for insurer AFLAC is slated to pop up in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (it opens Dec. 17) and a series of ads promoting the movie, AP reports. No word on how the duck is, er, billed – below or between Jim Carrey and Jude Law.