Michael Phelps wasn’t totally taken by surprise when the News of the World published a photo of him using what appears to be a bong at a party at the University of South Carolina last November.
According to a source close to the photo deal, Phelps, like many celebrities before him, attempted to get the photo off the market, but he was quite obviously unsuccessful.
“There was an effort to purchase it, there was even talk of him writing a sports column as well for a period of time to in exchange for not running it," the source said. "But the News obviously knew what it had on its hands. They weren’t going to play ball.”
Reps for Phelps didn’t comment.
OK! being helmed from KentuckyPoor newsstand sales, a dearth of exclusives on which to bid, and the poor state of the economy as a whole led to the recent firing of many senior-level staffers — including editor-in-chief Susan Toepfler — at OK! magazine.
So naturally, all eyes are on the magazine this week as the first issue since the bloodbath is published.
It’s a little surprising then to learn — via Facebook no less — that interim editor-in-chief Sarah Ivens was given the green light to shepherd OK! through its Feb. 2 edition from Kentucky, and not the home offices in New York City.
“The magazine is in very good hands for closing day," said publicist Brian Strong. "Sarah is by all means involved in the process. She’s overseeing the close and the foreseeable future, she’s working remotely from Kentucky.”
Strong couldn’t say how long the arrangement would last, but says, “it’s safe to say in the next month or so a permanent replacement will be hired.”
It will be a brave soul who attempts to fill that seat, as newsstand sales are more important than ever to OK!’s owner Richard Desmond.
“Richard might have all the money in the world to put into the magazine, but he’s tired of watching it bleed cash,” said one source close to Desmond.
“Obviously the economy is poor and newsstand sales across the board are poor, but Richard has high expectations of the magazine," Strong said.
‘Betty’ takes a breakA quick update from the TV death watch: ABC continues to assure us that "Ugly Betty" won't be canceled despite an announcement that the show will soon be benched temporarily.
“Samantha Who?” and “In the Motherhood” will take "Betty's" time slot beginning March 26.
“Ugly Betty is fine,” assures one ABC publicist. “It’s a testament to the series that they are using its timeslot to try to launch a comedy block. It will be back on the schedule.”
No word on exactly when, though.
Lohan wasn't bored at Super BowlSeveral reports out of Tampa indicated that Lindsay Lohan looked less than thrilled to be at the Super Bowl festivities.
Slideshow 69 photos
But according to one onlooker at ESPN the Magazine’s Next Big Weekend party held Jan. 30, Lohan really just seemed mad.
“She definitely wasn't bored,” says the source. “She was texting and then she seemed like she was mad at Sam Ronson because she kept looking at Sam every time Sam checked her BlackBerry.”
Mad or not, Lohan wanted to be close to Ronson, “She requested a special couch that needed to be put next to Sam's DJ booth,” says the source.
Super Bowl celebrity sightings
On Jan. 31, NBC threw its "Superfront" event for Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno, "Chuck's" Zachary Levi and Rainn Wilson of "The Office." Other guests spotted there included actors Jeff Goldblum and Benjamin McKenzie, who will star in NBC's new show "Southland," a mature-looking Hayden Panettiere in a tuxedo-style blazer, "Medium" co-stars Patricia Arquette and Jake Weber, as well as Christopher Meloni of "Law & Order: SVU." The same night, the owners of the 10AK nightclub in NYC, Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva, threw a pre-Bowl bash in Tampa. Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore and Nick Lachey attended, took advantage of the Don Julio cocktails, and danced until 2 a.m., thanks to DJ Ross One. Also that night, Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz was spotted sipping on a Pepsi Natural (cola made with all-natural ingredients) backstage watching while watching Rihanna perform at the Smash concert in Tampa.
Belated weekend box officeWhen I received an email from my mom over the weekend that read, “U should have picked ‘New in Town,’ super cute!” I paused. Is it possible I got my box office prediction wrong again?
Slideshow 26 photos
Good news dear reader: "Super cute" didn’t translate into super successful this weekend. “Taken,” as I predicted, was number one at the box office. Because pirated copies had been floating around the Web and the target audience for the thriller (men) would be distracted by the Super Bowl, many thought it would be another “Paul Blart” weekend at the box office.
So not the case — “Taken” made $24.6 million, “Blart” slid into second, and “The Uninvited,” DreamWorks’ new release, came in third with a $10.5 million take.
“New in Town,” starring Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick, Jr. grossed only $6.7 million and came in number 8. Not impressive, but don’t let that stop you from making the film’s acquaintance.
As one moviegoer said upon hearing news that the welcome wagon didn’t exactly make a stop at the film, “It was a cute little movie! Maybe Renee will like me.” I’m sure she will, mom.
More on Michael Phelps
Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com.