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'Idol' judge takes jab at Madonna

Los Angeles -- Not content to crush the spirit of unknowns, "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell is training his sights on one of the biggest stars in the business -- Madonna.

Cowell, promoting Monday's start of the third "American Idol" season, recently was drawn into a discussion with the Television Critics Assn. about the physical attributes of today's stars.

"Britney (Spears) is cute, isn't she?" Cowell said. "Beyonce is good-looking. Jennifer Lopez is good-looking. Madonna used to be good-looking."

His fellow judges, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, groaned.

"She's a housewife!" Cowell said.

Appeals under way in photo case

London -- A judge granted celebrity magazine Hello! permission to appeal a ruling that it acted improperly in publishing unauthorized photos of the wedding of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Judge John Lindsay also gave the celebrity couple permission to appeal part of his decision.

The judge said Friday the magazine could seek to overturn his ruling that it violated the couple's commercial confidence. Zeta-Jones and Douglas won the right to appeal Lindsay's ruling that publication of the photos didn't infringe on their privacy.

The judge didn't set a date for the appeals.

In November, Lindsay ordered the magazine to pay the stars $26,000 in damages. Douglas and Zeta-Jones had sought damages of $900,000.

He also ordered the magazine to pay $1.9 million to the owner of rival celebrity publication OK!, which had an exclusive deal for pictures of the couple's extravagant 2000 wedding at New York's Plaza Hotel.

Cage's classic ride up for sale

Los Angeles -- A 1938 Bugatti once owned by actor Nicolas Cage is on the auction block, but the wheels are only for serious collectors with big bucks.

The Bugatti T57C Atalante coupe, a two-tone black-and-blue two-seater, is expected to fetch $400,000 to $600,000 at next week's RM Auctions event in Phoenix, featuring nearly 100 prized collector cars.

RM's fifth annual Vintage Motor Cars auction also offers a 1948 Tucker Torpedo, No. 43 of the 51 produced ($350,000-$450,000); a 1953 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn drophead coupe ($90,000-$110,000); and a 1930 Duesenberg Model J Tourster ($325,000-$375,000).

Playwright takes academic gig

Houston -- Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson will join Edward Albee this spring at the University of Houston's School of Theatre, the school announced.

Wilson will partner with the university's Distinguished Professor of Theatre in preparing students for Albee's annual Playwright's Workshop.

Albee is the winner of three Pulitzers for drama. Wilson won his Pulitzer for drama in 1979 for "Talley's Folly."

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