Stephen M. Silverman
May 10, 2005 07:00 AM

Despite the apparent wishes of Paris Hilton to replace Nicole Richie with Kimberly Stewart as the hotel heiress’s The Simple Life sidekick next season, FOX TV has yet to cement a deal with Stewart, the 25-year-old daughter of rocker Rod.

Furthermore, reports the New York Post, Richie remains under contract for next season when the show goes to Hawaii, and she has yet to be relieved of her duties – which the newspaper terms merely “wish fulfillment on Hilton’s part.”

ABC News suggests that, in the great tradition of such feuding teams as Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (and even Abbott and Costello), Hilton and Richie may even patch things up – especially if there’s a big paycheck at stake.

Last month, PEOPLE reported that the rift between Hilton and Richie, both 24, escalated into an all-out war. On April 20, Hilton said in a statement: “It’s no big secret that Nicole and I are no longer friends. … Nicole knows what she did, and that’s all I’m ever going to say about it.”

A source close to Paris told PEOPLE that Richie is jealous of the media attention her blonder costar receives and resents being left out of such things as Hilton’s Feb. 5 hosting gig on Saturday Night Live. In fact, said the source, Richie tried to get even for that perceived slight by throwing a party to celebrate the SNL stint and then screening Paris’s infamous 2003 sex video instead. (Reps for Richie deny the incident.)

“Paris was very hurt,” said the source. “She loves Nicole but believes she is owed an apology.”

Richie’s friends told PEOPLE that tensions arose because Nicole has grown out of her wild ways, quitting drinking and spending more time with her fiance, DJ Adam Goldstein. “She just wants to be with Adam and get married,” said one. There have also been reports that should Richie indeed ankle Simple Life it would be to walk into a new reality show with her husband-to-be.

In a statement by FOX in Tuesday’s Post, the network says: “We are currently discussing internally the creative direction of the next The Simple Life. We are huge fans of both Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie and look forward to solidifying our plans for the next installment.”

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