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US diary: Orla Healy

TWO of television's most popular dramas, Mad Men and Downton Abbey, will square off tonight in what is shaping up to be a nail-biting climax to the 64th annual Emmy Awards.

The ladies and gents of Sterling Cooper, who had been hotly tipped to score a fifth consecutive win for Emmy's Most Outstanding Drama series (breaking the record four statuettes they currently share with legendary shows like Hill Street Blues, The West Wing and LA Law), are now facing a credible threat from the Brits -- whom odds-makers say have picked up significant steam in the final stretch of one of Hollywood's most competitive races.

Lady Grantham (said to be a shoo-in for Best Actress in a drama) and the rest of the Crawleys, however, aren't the only dark horses nipping at the well-polished heels of Don, Betty, Joan, Roger and Peggy.

Homeland, the post-9/11 psychological thriller, is being talked about as a potential upset, as is the cult-favourite dark drug drama Breaking Bad, whose star Bryan Cranston is considered most likely to scoop the Best Actor slot despite stiff competition from Damien Lewis, Homeland; Jon Hamm, Mad Men; Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey; Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire; and Michael C Hall, Dexter.

Jen makes a smart move

Golden girl Jennifer Aniston is going all out to prove what a good sport she is, mercilessly poking fun at the sad sack image she's had to endure ever since Brad Pitt left her (childless!) for the darker charms of you-know-who. In a new (by now, viral) digital ad for Smartwater, Aniston spoofs everything from her iconic "Rachel" hairdo to the robust fertility of the Jolie-Pitts, as faux black-and-white security footage from inside her home purports to show her up as a ditzy self-absorbed Hollywood princess with a large baby bump and an impressive collection of wigs.

The video -- which opens with a shot of Aniston leaving her house in a shiny new car (absent-mindedly, natch, calling her PA Demi instead of Mimi) and promptly reversing into a wall ("I forgot my Smartwater!" she exclaims) -- takes potshots at many of the tabloid-induced rumours (she's secretly pregnant/she's too body-con to carry a baby, etc) that regularly circulate about the newly engaged actress.

In one scene, Aniston rips a thick Velcro contraption from her waist to reveal a honking baby bulge. "How are my little triplets doing? You must be so thirsty," she mumbles towards her prosthetic tummy, glugging down a bottle of the designer H2O.

Another frame shows the svelte 41-year-old being hoisted high by four strapping pool-boys and trilling about how the "workout" really helps burn the fat in her upper thigh.

Aniston wraps up the two-and-a-half minute gag-routine with a dry, "Good night, Rachel," to herself in the mirror before removing a blonde wig from her head to reveal an unruly head of black frizzy curls. The ad closes with the tagline: "Even more refreshing than the truth." Touche.

Romance in a twilight stage?

News that scandal-plagued actress Kristen Stewart managed to snag some face-time with former beau Robert Pattinson in LA last weekend is being celebrated by certain media outlets as a heart-warming sign that the sun hasn't yet set on the romance between the young Twilight stars.

Pattinson -- who moved out of the couple's Los Feliz home in July just days after photos of Stewart kissing her Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders surfaced -- instigated the reunion according to People magazine, which quotes a source to explain the break- up was "easier said than done... and clearly harder than expected".

US Weekly puts an equally uplifting spin on the couple's chance of reconciliation. "They're working it out," it reports, claiming Pattinson can't shake his feelings. "He's still in love with her."

Industry types without the vested interest of, say, propelling magazines off newsstands, are taking a different view: Breaking Dawn Part 2, opening in November, will require a worldwide promotional push and the reported meeting was possibly nothing more than a paving of the way for a pout-free press tour.

Monica calls for a recount

Monica Lewinsky is really going for it. The former White House intern, who is reportedly looking for a payoff in the region of $12m (€9.2m) to put pen back on paper about her affair with Bill Clinton, is apparently so broke that she feels she has nothing to lose by writing an X-rated tell-all that will undoubtedly mortify anyone even vaguely involved in the 14-year-old sex scandal.

Anonymous friends tell the National Enquirer that the 39-year-old brunette has offered to frankly discuss the more sordid details of the affair which failed to make it into the Starr Report, including descriptions of Clinton's "insatiable desire for three-way sex, orgies and the use of sex toys of all kinds".

Described as a girl who dreamed of nothing more than marrying a nice guy, moving to the leafy NY suburb of Westchester and having babies, Lewinsky is said to be desperate to find a way to support herself.

"No one will hire her and she can't get a job because of Clinton," a sympathetic source tells the NY Post. "She needs to make money somehow."

Sunday Independent