Orla Healy: US diary
$1bn 'girl next door' gets down to business
News that Jessica Simpson is insisting on having a pre-nuptial agreement before walking up the aisle with her finance, the ex-footballer Eric Johnson, didn't surprise any of the number-crunchers in the fashion industry.
But Simpson's decision has less to do with the financial bickering that followed the break-up of her first marriage to Nick Lachey than it does with her surprising -- some would say shocking -- success as a businesswoman.
According to new reports, the 30-year-old is set to become the top celebrity-turned-fashion-brand ever, with her signature clothing line expected to generate $750m in sales for 2010.
If you add on the $150m-$200m predicted to come in from her denim collection, not to mention her substantial music royalties, then Simpson's net worth for the year could tip the $1bn mark.
Ironically, industry analysts say Simpson's appeal owes much to her "girl-next-door" struggles with her weight, and her love life.
So much for Simpson being a ditzy blonde.
MTV ball is a 'Shore' thing
The folks at Waterford Crystal have their work cut out for them. MTV just announced that on New Year's Eve it will put pint-sized Jersey Shore star Snooki inside a ball which will be lowered into Times Square at midnight.
Whether or not the ball is the same 12ft Waterford model that has been dropping for more than 100 years isn't clear, but the tone of the night is definitely changing, as per MTV's confirmation that all Snooki's castmates will be on hand to lead the crowd in an effort to break the Guinness World Record for (you guessed it) group fist-pumping. Classy.
White House smokescreen
Talk about pressure. As if he didn't have enough to deal with, Prez Obama now has the nation giving him a high-five for successfully quitting smoking. Thing is, we don't actually know if he's beaten his battle with the butts.
On Thursday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked if the Commander-in-Chief was still sneaking the occasional cigarette.
In a carefully worded reply, Gibbs reported: "I've not seen or witnessed evidence of any smoking in probably nine months."
Gibbs, who appeared to be enjoying this particular Q&A a little too much, later acknowledged that the Boss continues to "wrestle" with his habit by "chewing gum".
Guess a quick puff on the portico outside the Oval Office, one of the few secure private spots around the White House, is now totally out of the question.
Ire at grisly Palin scene
Sarah Palin sure knows how to wind up even the coolest of customers. West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin lost it last week after watching what he calls Palin's "truly awful reality show", witnessing the "phoney pioneer girl" hunt and carve up a caribou in a scene that he likened to "a snuff film".
"You weren't killing that animal for food, shelter or even fashion. You enjoy killing animals," an irate Sorkin blogged on The Huffington Post, while making fun of Palin's "grizzly mama" persona, sniping: "I'm in film and television, Cruella, and there was an insert close-up of your manicure while you were roughing it in God's country. I know exactly how many feet off camera your hair and make-up trailer was ... "
Although Palin had tried to pre-empt criticism via her Facebook page ("Unless you've never worn leather shoes, sat upon a leather couch or eaten a piece of meat, save your condemnation"), Sorkin refused to cut her any slack.
"Like 95 per cent of the people I know, I don't have a visceral (look it up) problem eating meat or wearing a belt," he writes. "But like absolutely everybody I know, I don't relish the idea of torturing animals." Strong words from a man who may soon be in hot water himself. Although Sorkin has earned kudos for his work to date, its uncertain how his next project will be received.
The book he is adapting for the big screen, The Politician, is by Andrew Young, one-time aide and affair-accomplice to John Edwards, whose late wife Elizabeth isn't exactly portrayed in a positive light.