Pop Culture

Ashlee’s new album to go up against Mariah’s

Ashlee Simpson's new album, "Bittersweet World," has had anything but a sweet start. The release date first had to be pushed from fall of 2007 to the first quarter of 2008 at the last minute. And now that the April 22 release date is fast approaching, Simpson faces competition she hadn't been counting on —Mariah Carey.

Carey, who last week surpassed Elvis Presley as solo artist with the most No. 1 singles, will release her new album, "E=MC2," just days before Simpson, and that's got the Simpson camp concerned.

"Ashlee needs to hit a home run with this album," said a source close to the pop star. "She really had great success with her early work, but ever since the lip synching on 'Saturday Night Live,' she's had something to prove. Her career literally depends on this album being successful."

The first single from Carey's new album, "Touch My Body," was released ahead of the album (it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart), but other tracks from "E=MC2" have leaked onto the Internet since the single's release.

One record industry source thinks the culprit could be someone from the Simpson camp hoping to dilute the impact of Carey's release. "Joe Simpson has every right to be nervous about Ashlee going up against Mariah. They (the Simpson camp) are backed into a corner with this release date since they already changed it once. Their only option in fighting the Mariah machine would be to create a way to make the album's release less newsworthy."

Regarding the release date of the Simpson's album, her rep says "Ashlee is committed to giving her fans the best album possible and that is what she has done with "Bittersweet World," there was never an official release date for the album in the fall." And as for Carey? Simpson's rep brushes off any concern: "Mariah is a great artist but the only album release Ashlee is focussed on right now is her own." 

Concern over Clooney's opening weekend
Not long after I told Willie Geist of "Morning Joe" that winning the box office week in and week out for 14 weeks was becoming passé did my winning streak begin slipping away. And not only did my prediction, "Nim's Island" not win, but I'd never considered "21" to be a contender for top earner. The casino caper took in $15.1 million over the weekend, whereas "Nim's" earned $13.3 million according to most estimates. My good friend George Clooney's film "Leatherheads" fumbled and reinforced the sentiment expressed by many of Clooney's critics, that he isn't the right guy to open films. It's also worth noting that "Horton Hears a Who" earned another $9.1 million, bringing its total to an impressive $131 million. Wonder when they're going to get started on that sequel ...

Celebrity SightingsIn New York City, Kanye West, Robin Thicke, Nick Cannon, Christian Siriano, Richie Rich and Charlotte Ronson celebrated Nylon Magazine’s 9th Anniversary. Partygoers enjoyed Moët & Chandon champagne and music by Paul Sevigny. Robert Iler had a night out with the boys at Tenjune.

In Las Vegas, Hugh Hefner and his girlfriends Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson celebrated Hefner’s birthday at the Tower at the Palms Casino Resort.

In L.A., Debra Messing was spotted wearing Gilles Montezin; Kim Kardashian hit Koi for dinner, then Il Sole later in the week; Kim Raver and Maria Menounos both participated in Barnes & Noble’s Autism Speaks Storytimes.

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