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A major hassle for poor Rich

Wed., June 3, 2009

John Rich says the publicity he’s received from the legal dispute with a former “Nashville Star” contestant has been stressful and a huge distraction as he promotes his recent solo album and prepares for a summer Big & Rich tour.

The 35-year-old country star denies all charges, adding: “I’m disappointed that something like this has to be in the press when so many things are going on in the world that are important.”

Rich turned himself in to police last week to face charges filed by Jared Ashley, a country singer from the fourth season of the TV talent show.

He says the charges were filed in retaliation for a defamation suit he brought against Ashley for claiming Rich hit him in the face, and that Ashley offered to drop the charges in return for $2.9 million.

But Ashley’s attorney says: “A criminal case can’t be decided by money. If he’s saying (Ashley) was trying to pay to have the criminal case go away, that’s improper.”

According to Ashley, Rich assaulted him on two separate occasions and left him a threatening phone message.

Look out, it’s Tank Girl!

“Tank Girl” actress Lori Petty has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after she struck and injured a skateboarder over the weekend.

Petty, 45, has also appeared in “Point Break” and “A League of Their Own.”

One more for Kimora

It’s a boy for former fashion model Kimora Lee Simmons and actor Djimon Hounsou.

Simmons, 34, also has two daughters with hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, whom she divorced in 2008 after seven years of marriage.

The birthday bunch

Actor Tony Curtis is 84. Game show host Chuck Barris (“The Gong Show”) is 80. Singer Suzi Quatro is 59. Actor Scott Valentine (“Family Ties”) is 51. Newsman Anderson Cooper is 42. Country singer Jamie O’Neal is 41. Actress Lalaine Dupree (“Lizzie McGuire”) is 22.


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