June 12, 2006 12:00 PM

NICK’S NEW GAL

Nick Lachey has been quietly romancing stylist Kim Kardashian. Who knew?

What’s left of Nick Lachey six months after the breakup of his marriage to Jessica Simpson? Plenty, it seems. The singer—while managing to escape the attention of the press—has been dating stylist Kim Kardashian for the past month, sources tell Scoop. The twosome chatted the night away at Hollywood hot spot Shag May 15 and were photographed May 24 at an afternoon showing of The Da Vinci Code in Westwood. (The pair held hands as they exited the theater, but separated when photographers started snapping.) “They’re sweet on each other,” says a source close to the couple. “It’s the beginning stages of a relationship.” (His rep had no comment.)

What’s the attraction? Friends point out that Lachey, 32, and Kardashian, 25—who met at a party for Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart last month—have at least one thing in common: failed marriages. “Part of the attraction is they have both gone through similar life situations,” says the source. “They developed a bond.” Still, Lachey may be going slow. “For Nick to settle down,” says a pal, “it will take someone who is a lifelong partner.”

WHO IS KIM KARDASHIAN?

• Her dad: The late O.J. Simpson trial attorney Robert Kardashian

• Her past: Messy 2004 divorce from music producer Damon Thomas, who called her a “compulsive shopper”

• Her biz: Revamping closets and selling clothes for celebs like Serena Williams

• What’s next: Opening a high-end clothes boutique Dash in Calabasas with her sisters

• Best party pal: Paris Hilton

ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROMANCE

For Nick and Kim, it’s a small world after all

[This article contains a complex diagram. Please see hard copy or pdf.]

MATT LEINART, who is a pal of …

… parties with PARIS HILTON, who has been linked with …

O.J. SIMPSON, who played football for USC, just like …

KIM KARDASHIAN

… is daughter of lawyer ROBERT KARDASHIAN, who defended …

NICK LACHEY

KOURTNEY KARDASHIAN, sister of …

… is stepsister to BRODY JENNER, who’s seeing …

… was married to JESSICA SIMPSON, whose dad …

JOE SIMPSON, worked with …

KRISTIN CAVALLARI, who went out with …

MUSCLE BEACH

Heather and Denise’s playdates parade pectoral pulchritude

It’s show-and-tell on summer break: School’s out and the shirts are off. Denise Richards was photographed in Italy May 22 with Heather Locklear‘s estranged (and topless) husband, Richie Sambora. Across the globe, Locklear slathered sunscreen on David Spade in Malibu May 28. Scoop wants to know: Will the boys battle it out in the surf, beach-movie style, before classes start in the fall? Stay tuned.

CAMP IT UP

At upstate New York’s 31-year-old Stagedoor Manor theater camp (the subject of a recent documentary, Stagedoor, by director Alexandra Shiva), pint-sized theater geeks come to perform—and many wind up on much larger stages:

NATALIE PORTMAN, 1996

Two years after her turn in The Professional, 15-year-old Portman (with Bryce Dallas Howard, who will costar in Spider-Man 3) was “absolutely petrified” to sing in Cabaret, says Stagedoor’s production director Konnie Kittrell. “She was just another kid here.”

ZACH BRAFF, 1988

“Always a 1,000-watt light bulb,” Kittrell says of the Scrubs star (who played Judas in Godspell). “He had that mischievous little smile.” Most days, anyway. “One year his mother called to say his hamster died. He was very upset.”

ROBERT DOWNEY JR., 1976

“People loved him but he was a terror,” says Downey’s former counselor Todd Graff. “He was always missing when you needed him, impossible to get to bed … a lot of bouncing off the walls. And he was girl crazy!”

MANDY MOORE, 1996

“She was a quiet, sweet girl,” says Kittrell. “Big voice.” The future pop star (now dating fellow camp veteran Braff) often snagged solos. But, the director adds, “she wasn’t a spotlight seeker.”

Britney & Kevin: In Trouble?

In the last month a pregnant Britney Spears has crisscrossed the country—from L.A. to New York City to Malibu—with Sean Preston, 9 months. And the other man in her life? Kevin Federline hasn’t been photographed with his wife since March 25. (They were briefly spotted May 29 in Malibu.) Are they splitting? Federline’s rep had no comment, and Spears’s camp did not return calls. But the writing may be on the wall—or the Web. Check out his downloadable single and her online poem:

SPEARS’S POETRY

My crown is back / And it’s way too high / For you to be in my presence … You trick me one, twice, now it’s three / Look who’s smiling now / Damn, it’s good to be me!

FEDERLINE’S LYRICS

This marijuana got me heavily sedated…. I’m Kevin Federline, America’s most hated…. All these model chicks wanna do me…. I got 50 mill, I can do whatever I want….

CLAY’S MOD MAKEOVER

Clay Aiken set Idol fans buzzing when he turned up at the May 24 finale without his usual spiky do. “He looks sharp and very cool,” says Aiken’s hairstylist Steeve Daviault. Maybe too cool. “People would recognize his entourage and ask, ‘Where’s Clay?’ He’d be standing right there.”

PAUL & HEATHER: NO DEAL

Forget that quickie $47 million divorce settlement Paul McCartney reportedly desired. A landmark May 24 ruling in Britain’s House of Lords has some Britons speculating that Heather Mills, 38, could get up to $376 million. But not soon. Says a Mills pal: “They have not even started thinking about [money].”

Q + A

Harry Takes A Bow

As the curtain comes down on The Pajama Game, Broadway’s hottest leading man gets ready for his next act

Harry Connick Jr. has plenty to sing about. On June 11, the three-time Grammy winner—who just released his new double CD Harry on Broadway, Act I—could take home a Tony Award for his role as sexy Sid in The Pajama Game. The Big Easy-born musician, 38, takes a brief intermission with Scoop to discuss life on the stage, his final show, and how he got those well-reviewed pecs:

How did you hear about your Tony nomination?

I was listening to the radio [and] I was blown away. I didn’t [have time to] celebrate. But I’m gonna buy myself a drink one of these nights!

You wrap up your run on June 17. Had any big onstage bloopers?

Every night there is some kind of mishap. Either I’m screwing up a line or forgetting a dance move or a lyric. But it’s a tremendous amount of fun.

The New York Post declared, “All of Broadway is talking about the Chest.” What’s your workout secret?

I’ve never [gone shirtless] before. If you’re going to do it, I felt like I should try to get in shape. So I got on the treadmill and lifted some weights. I probably lost 25 lbs. I’m stronger and lighter on my feet.

Between music, movies and, until recently, Will & Grace, you’re quite the multitasker.

I get that from my parents. You have one shot at your life. I just want to push it as hard as I can.

What will you do when the show is over?

First, I’ll take my kids [Georgia, 10, Sara, 8, and Charlotte, 3, with wife Jill Goodacre] to school. Then I’ll sleep for 30 days and 30 nights.

Do your daughters have the performing bug?

They’re always dancing around the house to whatever’s on the radio. They’ve seen the show about 25 times. They think it’s the coolest thing ever. I’m enjoying that while it lasts. I know it won’t forever.

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