NEWSFLASH: Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson are in love.
(Is that the sound of cars crashing in our heads?
Okay okay, so not with each other. Yeah, it was a cheap stunt to get you to read this. WHATever. But then again, nearly a year after the world's most famous Newlyweds became the No-lyweds (wouldn't that make a great reality show) it does appear Cupid's aim is true – and the little devil has a sense of humour. You see Nick (the dumped one), is indeed gaga, but over MTV hot-hot-hostess Vanessa Minnillo. While Jess (the dumper), also appears to be in love ... but with herself. Hey, don't shoot the messenger: She said it. "Right now, who I am I am so in love with," Jessica, 26, babbled recently while Ellen Degeneres resisted the urge to roll her eyes and note her guest sounded like Popeye the Sailor Man. And then, Jessica made a profound statement: "I think I'm too hard to be in love with." Gee, 'ya think? Karma's a female dog, babe.
"I am so happy with who I am. It's all about the journey."
Aw-w-w, listen to Jess be all brave and stuff. But she is right about the journey part. And so without further ado, we're going to insert ourselves into this thing and see who's winning the divorce PR battle thus far down the yellow brick road.
Let's do a quick recap. Right around this time last year the Simpson-Lachey union was disintegrating. The details have been spun to death, so let's just say that weeks of rabid tabloid stories predicting doom, somehow managed to get it right and the couple finally split in November. (Though it sounded from Nick's corner that he was the only one on the planet broadsided by the final blow. Snap.) And while Jess moved on, we all assumed for some woo-hoo new life, Nick licked his wounds, and in fact to this day doesn't even really get it, saying recently, "I still don't think I have clarity on that. There are many factors that could be blamed, but I'm not sure I completely understand what they were."
But something interesting happened on the way to the divorce, which became final on June 30. Nick dusted himself off – channeling his pain into a new album of catchy angst – and after what appeared to be a stream of hot-and-cold running women, has settled for the delightful Minnillo, 25, with whom it's rumoured he's close to moving in with in NYC's trendy Tribeca hood. (It won't hurt that it will cut down on those unexpected L.A. night-club run-ins with the 'ex and her hairdresser posse – dance-offs can be such a drag.
And, even though there wasn't a pre-nup and he could have raked in half the estimated $36 million they earned as a married couple, it's said Nick walked away for a lot less to avoid a messy court battle. Class usually gets you points in the PR department.
Meanwhile Jessica, though linked in the press with a slew of guys post-split, is in reality still waiting for Mr. Right. "I wish I was in love, I need to be in love," she whimpered. "I'm a good person, I promise." Waaah. She's also clearly not averse to the t'il-death-do-us-part-or-I-get-bored-tha
So, it's suddenly September and here's Nick smiling like the cat with a canary from all the mags with his new love. Minnillo even went to Nick's hometown Cincinnati to meet his folks over Labor Day weekend. He just launched his solo tour to support his hit album "What's Left of Me," which debuted in May at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and first-week sales of 172,000 copies.
And he's getting solid reviews. Many of the songs are inspired by divorce heart-ache and he has confirmed suspicions that he's so fine now, by revealing he's "in a vastly different place in my life than I was then [post-split]. At the time they were written and recorded, I was living those moments. Now those songs just represent a memory, a moment in time that's come and gone, and I think, emotionally, I'm not invested in those the way I'm sure I was at that time." Ouch.
Meanwhile, our girl has just released her own album, "A Public Affair." (Subtle). But despite an onslaught of publicity, including commercial endorsements, dispatches on her not-so private affairs including incredibly well-timed magazine cover-stories booming her, uh, luv for John Mayer (!), the album landed it's first week at No. 5 on Billboard with mere sales of 104,000 units. Uh oh.
"Nick is way out in front with his public, his romance and his career," says our Hollywood insider.
Funny, earlier this month it looked as if Jess's luck had changed as the rumours of a hot new hook-up with Grammy winner Mayer sprang up seemingly from nowhere. Hi conspiracy theorists. It was conveniently the same week her album dropped. Gee willickers, nothing like a great new romance to plug a new project. Wow, how serendipitous. But y'know some are saying it was a publicity stunt gone wrong? Gosh.
Golly then, as soon as you can say two well-placed cover stories, Jessica and John were both almost instantly on record with denials. Gosh, golly gee. She told The View's Rosie O'Donnell, "I'm not actually dating John Mayer," while in his own blog Mayer cleverly directed readers "Don't Believe the Hype."
Then, Simpson and her publicist are said to have parted ways in the wake of Sayer-gate.
Oh dear, it looks as if our girl is lagging in the polls. To top it off, and we can hardly bear to write this, she's reportedly still sleeping in Nick's old T-shirts. We're almost moved to cue the violin section. "I love Nick with all my heart. He's still a dear friend," she said. So, like ... ???
But hang on, it's not all bad inJessica's world. She has finally learned to bake, and proudly reveals that she provided cupcakes to her male co-stars while working on her new flick Employee of the Month which debutsOct. 6. That's the spirit. "I'm so excited about it. People are going to laugh," she crowed at the film's premiere. Let's hope not.
Well, in the end who wins the battle? Frankly, we say John Mayer. A) We'd vote for anyone who can come up with the words "your body's a wonderland." B) Since the Simpson debacle, suddenly he's everywhere – even Lance Armstrong's hanging around (though thaaat's another story).
When Lane (Lane Garrison who played Tweener on PB) was 17, he was unable to get along with his mom, so he left home and moved in with Joe Simpson, father of pop stars Jessica and Ashlee Simpson. Lane and Jessica grew up together, they still remain friends.